If you haven’t noticed, there’s a small nation of people collecting clues around Tesla’s Model 3 production progress. One of the top clue databases is the place where new VINs drop. (VINs = vehicle identification numbers.)
Tracking VINs is a major way that Bloomberg creates its production estimates. I’m not a VIN sleuth, but we’ve got a number of them in our readership. Consider these to be the people who like to get all information first and don’t mind marching through the weeds to do so. One of them notified me of some fun discoveries today.
To get into the news, here are two recently registered VINs:
The first one is a rear-wheel drive (RWD) car and the second is an all-wheel drive (AWD) car. But the more important difference is not what’s different about them — it’s what is the same about them that’s different from tens of thousands of previously registered Model 3s. As the tipster who notified me of the news nicely summarized, “Note that the restraint type (digit 6) on the following vins is ‘7’ which is used by the Model S as indicating EU.”
In total, it appears that there are currently 17 of these LHD European VINs registered.
Our reader friend offered some thoughtful prognostication based on this initial info:
So what does this mean? Well, it looks like Tesla is well on its way to ramping up the Model 3 for delivery to the EU in Q1 2019. Here’s my reasoning:
AWD Model 3 North America timeline:
Mid October 2017 — First NHTSA AWD vins spotted — likely internal testing.
Mid Jan 2018 — Small batch of 18 AWD vins registered to NHTSA — likely for testing and regulations.
Late June 2018 — Substantial AWD vins registered with NHTSA — production starts.
Late July 2018 — First deliveries.
Note that this gap between testing and production is about 5 months. Just about enough time to test the differences between North American and EU: airbags, restraints, type 2 and 3-phase charging, and exterior lighting. This lines up nicely with Q1 deliveries to EU after the first phase of the US federal tax credit is reduced.
Hence, expect EU deliveries in 2019 Q1 with all configurations of RWD, AWD and Performance!
Naturally, Model 3 demand in Europe is jumping through the roof. Some customers are bitter (had to wait it out while spoiled Americans gobbled up tens of thousands of Model 3s — some of whom might have even voted for Donald). Some customers are twitching, and struggling to not settle for another electric car or — gasp — plug-in hybrid in order to retire their smelly diesel burner. Some customers are just patiently waiting as they meditate and dream about the peace of a minimalist Tesla Model 3. In any case, all of them are eager for a sign that Model 3 deliveries will indeed start in high volume in Europe in Q1. Hopefully all of this VIN sleuthing is as accurate and helpful as we think. (By the way, you can learn more about Tesla VINs from the NHTSA/DOT here.)
Here are the 17 LHD Model 3 VINs we’ve uncovered:
But that’s not all. Our tipster also noted, “VIN counting seems to have stopped at 108729, but in actuality, the current highest vin is 5YJ3E1EBXJF110104. This seems to have been missed due to EU vins registered with the NHTSA.” That’s over 1,000 VINs in between.
We don’t have any 100% firm conclusions on what’s going on behind Tesla’s walls, but I presume my European friends will be celebrating initial arrivals in a reasonable timeframe.