When I read that international deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 would only start in “Late 2018,” I wasn’t much surprised, because it has been the usual Tesla modus operandi. In earlier launches, US deliveries were prioritized as well. (The first European Tesla Model S arrived in June 2013, one year after the first Model S arrived in the US. Volume deliveries started in September 2013. The same timing pattern occurred for the Model X in 2016.) The surprising part was the word “late,” which could mean Q4 2018, later than usual.
Is this a Model 3 anti-selling strategy from Tesla? Or is there some substance to it?
After reading this article, I realized the possible reason for this delay in international deliveries. With Tesla right now having ~134,000 vehicles registered in the USA (through June 2017), and some 20,000 Model S & X expected to be delivered by the end of the year, we get to ~154,000 Tesla vehicles registered in the US by the end of Q4.
Add the expected 20,000–30,000 deliveries of the Model 3 in 2017, and we have Tesla only 15,000–25,000 vehicles away from the 200,000th registration, which triggers the phase-out process for the US federal tax credits for EVs. That’s December 31st, 2017.
At this point, and depending on whether the difference will be closer to 15,000 or 25,000, Tesla will have two choices to proceed:
1) Go all out in Q1 to reach the 200,000 regustrations as soon as possible, so it can have the better part of Q1 and the subsequent Q2 to deliver as many Model 3s as possible in the USA — so Tesla’s customers can profit from the full $7,500 federal tax credit.
2) Manage deliveries in a way that it only passes the 200,000 mark in the first days of April, so that it has two full quarters (Q2 and Q3) for its customers to profit from the full tax credit.
I don’t think even Elon Musk himself knows how this will roll out. Many things can go wrong, or not. Either way, the international launch will depend on the production ramp up of the Model 3. If all goes well and Tesla proceeds with the #1 scenario, then first deliveries abroad should happen in Q3 2018, with Canada, Mexico, and China having priority over the rest (the first two because of proximity, and China, because … well … it’s China, Tesla’s second largest market, with 20% of this year’s sales). Although, some markets in Europe — like Norway, Switzerland, and Germany — should get their first units in that quarter too.
If something delays the ramp up and the #2 scenario occurs, then expect the schedules mentioned above to be delayed by one quarter, with first overseas deliveries to happen only in Q4 2018, and then with volumes increasing during the first months of 2019.
But back to scenario #1, if all goes well, real volume-waiting-list-busting deliveries would be happening in Q4 2018. Just keep in mind that half of the production at that time (40,000/month?) should still be going to the US, so we are talking about 20,000 units left each month to be delivered elsewhere.
Assuming that 250,000 of the current reservations are from markets outside the US, and taking into account the history of Tesla sales when it comes to regional distribution of reservations, we should have something like the following distribution of reservations:
Canada & Mexico: 20,000
Norway and Switzerland: 20,000
With 20,000 to 30,000 units per month available to reduce the 250,000 reservation backlog, Tesla will need some three quarters to fulfill the current backlog. So, if you made your Model 3 reservation now and live outside the USA — in Belgium, for example — expect your delivery to be somewhere in … mid 2019.
Even assuming that Tesla continues to improve production — to, let’s say, 60,000 units/month in 2019 — 20,000 would still be needed to feed its home market (I expect Model 3 sales to be around 250,000/year in the USA), leaving 40,000 to others, which means that the Belgian that just made the reservation now will wait only three months less, so should have delivery by late Q1 or early Q2 2019.
As for others that made the reservation sooner, expect your deliveries to be between Q3 2018 and Q2 2019, depending on when you made the reservation. The sooner you made the reservation, the sooner you will get it (generally speaking).
Long story short, the expected “Late 2018” arrival to overseas markets is ambiguous enough to cover a Q3 2018 launch in scenario #1 or a Q4 2018 launch in more pessimistic scenario #2. In any case, prepare yourself for a loooong wait.
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