Last Call To Order A Tesla For 2018 … Or Should You Wait For The $35,000 Model 3?

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Sometimes I feel like the boy who cried wolf. On October 12, I wrote an article that you should order a Tesla Model 3 by October 15 or you wouldn’t be guaranteed delivery by year end. Then, on November 11, I wrote about 5 options to still get a Tesla in 2018. Tesla didn’t want that to be the end of the story. As we wrote on November 15, the company secured extra trucking capacity and announced to the world it won’t use rail to ship to the East Coast (since it takes too long and Tesla wouldn’t want you to miss out on getting your Tesla by year end).

Further, Tesla has announced that it is expediting all orders that are received by November 30th. That’s this Friday, folks!

So, why are you here reading this article instead of waiting for your Tesla to be delivered? You can post your answer in the comments below, but I’ll speculate (because that is what I do) that you didn’t order before because you:

  1. You just realized how awesome Teslas are when a friend gave you a ride in his or her new Tesla.
  2. You were waiting for your lease to end.
  3. You wanted a Tesla before but you were waiting for the money (bonus, inheritance from your rich uncle, etc.).
  4. You didn’t have a good place to charge and they just installed a convenient charging station at your work or apartment.
  5. Your spouse really screwed up, so now he or she owes you a favor and is suddenly willing to let you spend your emergency fund on the Tesla (not that that is sound financial advice, but we all know you have no self-control).
  6. You are just a really bad procrastinator.

If you still haven’t gotten that inheritance, don’t worry, if you miss this deadline, I’m going to write an article in a couple of weeks giving you the options on still getting a Tesla before the end of the year, but the hoops you will have to go through will be much greater than what you have to do today (just order one from the comfort of your own home), so if you are just a procrastinator, get off that couch!

Actually, you don’t have to get off that couch — you can order without getting up (unless you left your debit card in the next room).

Tax Credit Update

So, to recap the federal tax situation for Tesla, the company sold its 200,000th car in July of this year, and we covered here and here that the full credit starts phasing out on January 1st, 2019, by being cut in half to $3,750 for two quarters. After that, there is a cut in half again to $1,875 on July 1st, 2019, and then the credit is fully eliminated (for Tesla) on January 1st, 2020, as shown in the table below.

There are some bills in Congress right now that will change this, but given that the oil industry has recently requested Congress not extend it (and the industry donates a LOT of money to help reelect members of Congress), that seems unlikely for now. Also, Congress has other priorities for the lame duck session, so I wouldn’t bet on the extension to save your bacon.

Should You Wait for the $35,000 Car?

Many people who have been waiting for the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 are coming to the conclusion that it may not be available for a while and maybe they should buy one of the models that is available now to take advantage of the tax credit, the fuel savings, and the fun this year.

In addition, the resale value of a car with a larger battery and the premium interior should also be enhanced. So, if you can swing it, it might be about the same financially in the long run to buy the Mid-Range Model 3 now as if you waited for the cheaper car and got the lower tax credit and the lower resale value.

Looking at the chart below, are you willing to wait another 6 to 9 months to save $42 bucks a month?

If you are a first day reservation holder, you might be able to get the a short range Model 3 in the first half of 2019, but I haven’t heard anything about the standard interior in a while, so in the chart below, I’m assuming that you can get the car with the shorter-range battery but not the standard interior in the first half of 2019. In that case, it looks like you save $12 a month over ordering now.

This is an update to my last “Total Cost of Ownership” articles. Please click here to read more about how I adapted the Edmunds model to estimate costs.


Whether you have been waiting for close to 3 years for a Model 3 or just heard about the car recently, I’ve tried to make the case that it is better to order now than wait till later to order a car (depending on your personal situation, of course). Agree or disagree, I’d like to hear from you in the comments section below.

You can use my Tesla referral link to get 6 months free Supercharging on a Model S, Model X, or Model 3. Here’s the code:

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Paul Fosse

I have been a software engineer for over 30 years, first developing EDI software, then developing data warehouse systems. Along the way, I've also had the chance to help start a software consulting firm and do portfolio management. In 2010, I took an interest in electric cars because gas was getting expensive. In 2015, I started reading CleanTechnica and took an interest in solar, mainly because it was a threat to my oil and gas investments. Follow me on Twitter @atj721 Tesla investor. Tesla referral code:

Paul Fosse has 230 posts and counting. See all posts by Paul Fosse