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Published on September 29th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Tesla CEO Elon Musk Responds To reddit Controversy About Discounts

September 29th, 2016 by  

A recent post on reddit about a Tesla buyer’s experience purchasing a discounted inventory car really blew up over the last day or so, leading even to CEO Elon Musk responding to the situation himself with several tweets and an internal company letter.

The main issue at stake for the reddit poster was the apparent push being made by sales staff to finalize the sale of the inventory car before it was actually delivered — with a loaner car filling in until it was. However, a critical issue that arose more broadly was the claim (apparently correct, given Elon’s email to staff) that the buyer was offered a discount. (As noted previously, Elon’s family doesn’t even get a discount on Teslas, and it is company policy not to negotiate and offer special deals.)

Here’s the full initial comment (by “watupmane”), to explain more fully:

So, my owner adviser called last night and confirmed my inventory car will not be delivered on Friday as they were shooting for. I ordered on the 17th of this month. They are asking me to finalize the sale on Friday regardless of the car being here and pushing the sale through. They are offering to then send me home with a loaner car until my car actually comes in. This is obviously frustrating but sounds like others are going through the same thing. He insinuated that if I don’t agree to this then the discounted pricing we already agreed on wouldn’t be honored so I guess the deposit I put down only holds me to the terms of the sale not them. I think if I really pressed them on that they would fold but not entirely sure. I am obviously very eager to get my car but any Tesla is better than what I am currently driving and finalizing the sale would at least remove any risk on my side of losing the pricing or my current car breaking down etc. I am kind of concerned about how my insurance company is going to handle this situation(this ended up being moot as they were more than fine with it). I am also a little concerned about finalizing sale of a car I have never actually seen. They did reassure me that when my car gets here if I see any issues with it they will resolve them. Still a big purchase to treat in this way. Anyone else being told similar things or in the same situation? Did you press them on anything? I am probably going to try and get something out of this on their side since they are also going to try and send me home with a 70 when I ordered a 90D so I will be paying for more car than I am leaving there with which is also annoying. Any advice on what I could ask for as compensation for the whole situation?

**Wow so this kind of blew up in an unexpected way for sure. Guess this is my 15 mins of Reddit “fame”.Hi Elon 🙂 I think the whole comment above was taken pretty harshly when that was not my intention. I tried to clear that up in comments below but not sure that sticks for whatever reason. I was never threatened on my deal changing in any way and even saying they insinuated was probably a bad choice of words. I am not getting some special deal others aren’t getting (trust me I wish) nor is anyone saying any part of my purchase would change whether I finalize this Friday or wait until sometime next month.

I’m sure the world has moved on at this point but I also just want to say that the whole process with Tesla has been incredible smooth, no pressure, very information heavy process that will ultimately put other dealers out of business. My Owner Adviser has easily been the best part of this entire process and has been available any time night or day for whatever stupid question I had. He also was very understanding as I struggled to make up my mind on the purchase which most dealers wouldn’t have tolerated.

While the situation as a whole was clearly interesting, Musk himself was, understandingly, mostly concerned with the apparent practice of discounting new vehicles, and also of counting a vehicle as delivered before it was actually delivered.

Here’s his eventual tweet of an internal company email he penned (read: typed) on the matter:

As some noted in the original reddit thread, the practice of discounting essentially new cars and selling them as inventory vehicles likely has something to do with the recent Q3 sales push — it didn’t appear out of nowhere, even if it probably wasn’t what management wanted to happen.


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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