Sit Back, Because It May Be A Long Time Before Tesla Can Fulfill Model 3 Orders

Sit Back, Because It May Be A Long Time Before Tesla Can Fulfill Model 3 Orders
Photo credit: AP Photo/Justin Pritchard

In one day, Tesla Motors crushed the numbers for total electric vehicles sold in the U.S. during 2015 with a single model—the Tesla Model 3. Half of the orders came before anyone had even seen it. But now the real wait begins, and it looks as if it may be three to four years before prospective owners receive their car.

The Model 3 received 232,000 reservations in the first 24 hours, according to a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Friday evening. Musk warned of the Model 3 wait time “growing rapidly” hours earlier via Twitter, and even mentioned that the company would definitely need to rethink its production planning. But as is right now, Fortune calculations put nearly half of the current reservations as not being fulfilled until 2019 at the earliest—with some orders trickling into 2020.

Sit Back, Because It May Be A Long Time Before Tesla Can Fulfill Model 3 Orders
Prospective owners reserve the Tesla Model 3 on Thursday night in Hawthorne, California before the car’s unveiling. Photo credit: AP Photo/Justin Pritchard

The orders don’t seem to be slowing down much, either. On top of a long wait for the Model 3, Fortune added that those who purchase the car later could also miss out on the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles that begins to phase out when sales hit 200,000. The vehicle starts at $35,000, and CNBC predicts it could reach $60,000 with add ons. Musk estimated the average option mix of a Model 3 to be around $42,000, so a lower tax break could be a big hit.


As for actual order fulfillment for the Model 3, Fortune broke down the numbers with Cairn Energy Research Advisors. Tesla expects to begin shipping the car at the end of 2017, and an optimistic estimate for Model 3 production rate would be 76,860 total by the end of 2018. The Tesla factory in Fremont, California can churn out 500,000 cars in one year—including the Model S and Model X—and according to Fortune, Tesla has only shipped just over 100,000 in its existence.

With those estimated numbers, about 40,000 of the people who registered prior to the unveiling of the car—seeing as every person completes the order—won’t even receive a Model 3 by the end of 2018. By the end of 2019, the Cairn Energy analysts predict a total of 212,646 Model 3 cars to have been shipped.


That fulfillment statistic still leaves about 20,000 of the first-day orders out of the mix if every registered person ends up buying the car, and those folks will roll over into the next decade waiting for their Model 3. These statistics aren’t from Tesla and can’t be certain, but keep in mind that the company had to lower its Model X delivery expectations in 2015 due to assembly snags.

If the above wasn’t enough of a catch, Fortune reports that Tesla said it may give preference to certain people on the order list—those living near the company’s California headquarters and former owners of the Model S and Model X may get a bit of a bump for receiving a Model 3.

For those who are into the whole “good things come to those who wait” logic, you’ll probably be in luck when it comes to the Model 3. But these numbers remain estimates for now, so we’ll just have to see what Tesla can do—and if Musk is able to rework production planning in his favor.


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