Tesla Spills The Beans On The Model 3 Reservation Process

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The excitement in the air is palpable. Fans are making plans for insane cross-country or across-the-world trips, paying exorbitant amounts for last-minute plane tickets, and posting pleading requests for a +1 ticket from anyone who won a pass to the Model 3 event in Hawthorne. It’s a bit crazy, actually, that people are getting so crazy about a car. Just another new car… that in all likelihood, won’t even be delivered to customers until 2018.


Okay, enough of that. The Tesla Model 3 is a huge launch, perhaps even the biggest vehicle launch of our lifetimes. It brings the perfection and the promise of the Tesla Model S to the mainstream… it brings the zero-emission lifestyle to the masses. Tesla has delivered the sedan and now the SUV of the future to us — but at a price point that is beyond most customers, and so we have been left to read up on it, take test drives, and drool over every iteration and improvement it brings. Crazy 0–60 times, uber-quiet rides, a massive touchscreen, and the car even learned how to drive itself after a few years. These vehicles great, but super expensive. Until now.

Model 3 will bring all the allure of Tesla at a price point most can afford, with the car starting at $35,000 — just above the average purchase price of a new car in the US. There may still be some federal rebates available by the time it comes out, but it’s not likely.

To quell the masses and put more meat on the bones than it normally does for a launch, Tesla opted to put up a blog post detailing what customers can expect from the Model 3 reservation process and for launch day. Here are the big nuggets from the post:

Tesla Wants You To Be Happy — This one is tucked in at the very end but really captures the essence of what it is trying to accomplish. This real talk about why Tesla exists and what lengths it goes to for customer service is maybe the biggest reason I’m a huge fan. I can’t say it better, so here’s what Tesla said: “Our overarching goal is to maximize total customer happiness within the bounds of what is physically possible.” 😀

Online Reservations Start March 31st At 8:30pm Pacific — Tesla had previously shared that reservations would start on 4/1, the day after the event, but it seems to have taken a more aggressive timeline. This means that the people securing the first online reservations won’t have seen the car either, joining the tens of thousands of enthusiasts who drop $1,000 in stores around the world earlier on the 31st to lock in a reservation. I’m hoping Tesla has locked in some insane bandwidth, as it will be live-streaming the event… which consumes massive bandwidth… and opening reservations at the same time… from the same domain — TeslaMotors.com. Good luck, comrades. Good luck.

Existing Owners Get Priority — This fact has been touted around but now it is confirmed. We learned that Tesla employees get priority over the normal queue, and now we have confirmation that Tesla owners are also one step up on the priority list. This makes sense for a few reasons. First, Tesla owners are the ones who believed in the company enough to drop tens of thousands of dollars on a car they had not seen before. Most early buyers had never seen one in person or driven one, which is crazy when you figure they were all in on a car that cost ~$100,000… but I digress. The second reason it makes sense is that someone who spent $100,000 on a Model S may well shell out more money for a better-optioned Model 3. They have the money and love Teslas… why not sell them another car?

Production Begins Late 2017 — The wording is important because they are not saying when customers get cars. This decouples delivery timing completely. They can start production and take their time ironing out the kinks in supply chain, quality, and production without worry that they’ll miss a publicly committed deadline. It’s similarly a bummer for customers, as this means orders might not even show up until 2018, with who knows how long of a ramp-up until Model 3 reaches full production, let alone fulfilling the orders from launch week.

Each Region Will Have Its Own Queue — Given that regions will likely be bulked up into unique “go live” dates to support the unique supply chain logistics required, this makes sense. Put the orders in buckets by market, then arrange for them to be built, shipped, etc. For example, most Teslas in Europe are shipping partially assembled to the Tesla factory in Tilburg, where they are skillfully reassembled and delivered to customers.

West Coast Customers Will Get Deliveries First — Based on physical proximity to the factory and the fact that over 40% of EVs sold today land in California, this makes sense. Not a surprise but interesting to see it confirmed in an official post. We recently saw this same thing with X shipments.

Production of Right Hand Drive Cars Happens Later — This is a bummer for RHD markets, but given the complexity of swapping the cockpit to the other side of the car, from a production standpoint, it makes sense. RHD is essentially a different model to build, though how different they are when compared to the complexity of all the other options on the car, it’s hard to say.

It is definitely an exciting time to be a human. It’s even more exciting to be a human that just happens to love electric cars and all the cleantech goodness they come with. Thanks, Tesla.

Below is the full text of the official Tesla Blog post:

Along with the excitement and anticipation for Model 3, we know everyone has a few questions. Here are the details so that you know what to expect both on March 31st when reservations open and in the months ahead before you take delivery of your Model 3.

Reservations for Model 3 begin on March 31st worldwide. Reservation amounts in each currency can be found here. There are two ways to make a reservation. The first, which will allow you to get a better spot in the queue, is to visit your local Tesla store when it opens on March 31st. Find your closest Tesla store here. The second is to make a reservation online at Tesla.com when the live unveil starts at 8:30pm PT.

In order to be as fair as possible, there will be a different queue for each region. And as a thank you to our current owners, existing customers will get priority in each region, meaning that the fastest way to own a Model 3 is to own a Model S or Model X.

Model 3 production is scheduled to begin in late 2017. When production begins, we will begin deliveries in North America starting on the West Coast, moving east. As we continue to ramp production, we will begin deliveries in Europe, APAC and right-hand drive markets. It is not possible to ship to all regions simultaneously because regulators in each part of the world have slightly different production requirements. Staggering deliveries in this way also allows us to provide the best possible customer experience.

We recognize that everyone wants to get their Model 3 as quickly as possible. Our overarching goal is to maximize total customer happiness within the bounds of what is physically possible.

Tune in to the Model 3 unveil on March 31st at 8:30pm PT on Tesla.com. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.

Image courtesy Tesla Motors

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

22 thoughts on “Tesla Spills The Beans On The Model 3 Reservation Process

  • Be part of the EV Revolution! Be the first to drive Tesla Model 3 across America. Be first to drive it across three countries of North America!

    Excitement is fever pitch and drives the ICE car pundits insane. Too bad, the reservation is now filled and waiting list… is there a waiting list site?

    • Isn’t it all a waiting list?

      • Yeah. What’s likely to be a LONG waiting list 🙂

        • A very long waiting list. And if you aren’t a Tesla employee, the wait is going to be a minimum of a year and 9 months if you’re at the *top* of the list. Probably longer!

          On another point… $1000 per reservation. I wonder how much capital Tesla can raise with this. $20 million? $200 million?

          • How many Tesla employees are you speculating will reserve before “regular” people? Or did you mean Tesla owners as well because apparently they will receive queue priority as well?

            20,000 reservations would be $20mil and I strongly believe this is a simple target. $200million? Thats 200,000 reservations, I don’t think we will get there but I would love to be wrong! I just don’t see people willingly making deposits after the line gets too long so initial reservations will slow and/or churn away over time reducing overall numbers.

          • I am speculating that *all* 12,000 – 15,000 Tesla employees (I’m not quite sure how many people they’re employing right now) will reserve Model 3.

            Given that the production ramp-up will be slow at first, and they’re only promising to produce (not deliver!) the first car in “late 2017”, employees will probably account for *all* the deliveries in 2017, and possibly as late as March of 2018.

            Really anyone placing their reservation now should expect to wait a full two years before delivery. Of course things should ramp up faster after that, and Tesla should start really pumping the cars out in the second quarter of 2018, so then they’ll start eating through the reservations backlog.

            “I just don’t see people willingly making deposits after the line gets too long ”
            Yeah. I’m wondering about that myself. Tesla had enough people banging down their door to make reservations for Powerwall and Powerpack to completely occupy their first year production before they shut down the reservations (for a while). I certainly do think that the long wait and long line will deter people, but is it possible that the entire 2018 Model 3 production will be reserved well before the first car rolls off the line? Yes, I think it is possible. We’ll see…

          • Very optimistic and I don’t disagree. I do wonder if all employees will reserve a Model 3… I guess its not unreasonable as many of us here are already Tesla fans, if I were an employee of the company on top of it I suppose I probably would be quite smitten with Tesla =)

            Another interesting point you just made is Tesla shut down reservations after a year’s production of the powerwall was reserved. So even if Model 3 demand is huge (how could it not be) it will likely be Tesla themselves that stop reservations.

            This may actual discourage me from trying to be a first to reserve since it seems unlikely to get early production… interesting indeed. I suspect I will still give it a try and at the very least I will have a good story to tell here and Tesla will have no shortage of good publicity from this launch.

          • Excited to see what they come up with! 🙂

            I agree that it’ll be a long queue, but ALL or even most Tesla employees being in it is probably a stretch. I’m sure some will be there. Although a huge price improvement over an S or X, we’re still talking about a car that, realistically optioned, will easily cost north of $40k. The tax incentive helps (assuming you can get it), but it’s still a lot. Tesla isn’t known for super high salaries.

            If I were a Tesla employee and wanted one, I might wait until I could buy a more entry level version of the car.

  • The “within the bounds of what is physically possible” line sounds something the main man would write.

  • So, do I wait around 9 months and snag a Bolt when it comes out or can I manage to wait 1 – 1 1/2 years longer and get a Model 3? Definitely torn on this one…

    • Or option 3 – get a Model S CPO 😀

    • You want to make a financially sound decision on this? Figure out when your current car is going to die or require major repairs. (If it already has done so and you’re just putting off replacing it until you can get an electric car… been there done that, get the Tesla.)

      • This is interesting. A couple hours ago I replied by email and the comment has not yet appeared. Thanks, Disqus.

        I’ll repeat.

        Or if you are in real need of a car right now consider a used Leaf or Volt. Or if your budget permits, a used Tesla S as Kyle suggests.

  • I’m giddy with excitement. My University has spring break next week. I’ll be one of the fanboys waiting in line before the doors open.

  • One wonders how much giddy excitement there is in the “real” world. How prominently has the reveal been featured in mainstream media?
    At production rates of hundreds of thousands per annum, this vehicle will need more than employees and fanboys as customers. Going to be interesting to see if “normal” people are going to get in line…

  • Does anyone have an invitation to the event yet??

  • I happen to be going to a city with a Tesla store for business on the 31st. I don’t even need a car and it’s still tempting to pull the trigger.

  • I’ve been looking forward to the unveiling since they announced it. Tension is high. I’m ready to make the deposit, but do we have to decide all the options at that time? Like wheel size…how do I know what wheel size to order? I’d like to read some reviews of options before I order, but it doesn’t sound like there will be enough time. Anyone know?

    • From the posts so far, it’s just locking in a spot. If anyone was able to get to customize the car, we would have pics. How would you know what rims you want if you don’t know what the car looks like? How would you know if you want a sunroof or dual motors if you don’t know what the performance spec deltas are? Not sure when that’s coming yet…

      • I’m pretty sure dual motors is off the table…it’s probably a good thing because I’d be sorely tempted to bite on it.

        • Dunno…It doesn’t seem like it adds that much complexity but it does add immense value in areas where all wheel drive is needed/wanted.

          • Hey, I’m all for it because of the extended range, but I think I saw a mention that in an effort to keep the costs down, it wouldn’t be available.

            I wonder what the possibilities would be to build a pickup on Model 3 platform?

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