Tesla has officially opened up its Model 3 "configurator" to everybody who can thrown down $1,000. Well, everybody except those searching for the coveted "cheap", entry-level $35,000 Model 3.
Just as questions about the production quality of the Model 3 have started to resonate not only with Tesla vehicle owners, but also with Tesla investors and those simply following the saga on Twitter and on Tesla Motor Club forums, it was revealed on Monday that the Model 3 reservation process looks like it could be over. From Electrek:
After two years of Model 3 reservations, Electrek has learned that Tesla plans to open the Model 3 Online Design Studio this week to let anyone order a car in the US and Canada – bypassing the reservation process.
At the same time, it invited all reservation holders in North America to place an order for all configurations except for the standard battery pack, which is still not in production.
Now that everyone in North America has access to the design studio with a reservation, which requires a $1,000 deposit, Tesla is skipping that part of the process and opening the Model 3 design studio to everyone without having to place a reservation first.
This leaves investors closely following the story to assume that one of several scenarios is unfolding:
- Tesla has run through all of its Model 3 reservations already and is now essentially caught up production-wise. This would be an troubling scenario for the company heading into the back end of this year.
- The company still has a backlog of reservations but now needs to take on additional reservations in order to get the $1000 cash upfront deposit that potential customers have to make when using Tesla's design studio to configure their vehicle.
- The company is simply over building and overshooting demand by a wide margin – another beacon of inefficiency and misallocation of resources from the Musk camp.
Meanwhile, one wonder how those original $35,000 standard model reservation holders must feel, knowing that everybody in the United States is being welcomed to configure their Model 3 ahead of them, as long as they aren’t buying the entrylevel version that was pitched and sold to the public to give the "common man" vehicle its mainstream appeal.
Oddly, the move to allow anybody to configure a Tesla Model 3 was first reported on by the auxiliary arm of Tesla's public relations machine over at Electrek. The article concluded by reminding us that some reservations are now over 2 years old and that tomorrow, everyone else will have access to configure their vehicle ahead of them:
Despite the change, sources told Electrek that Tesla is still going to prioritize the orders from reservation holders.
For example, reservation holders hanging on for the standard battery pack, which is not planned to enter production until the end of the year, are still going to be able to order based on when they placed their reservation, which could have been over 2 years ago at this point.
The Model 3 design studio should be available to everyone tomorrow.
Sources have also told Electrek that Tesla informed its sales staff that stores will get Performance Model 3 vehicles by the end of the month.
Worth noting even further is the fact that this news comes after Electrek also reported that Tesla is going to stop "anti-selling" the Model 3 and is now going to push its salespeople to sell the vehicle - what a novel concept!
Which leads to one troubling - for Elon Musk - conclusion: demand for the Model 3 well could by drying up.
Ever since Tesla launched the Model 3 in 2017, CEO Elon Musk said that the automaker has been ‘anti-selling’ the new electric vehicle in favor of Tesla’s current Model S and Model X as it ramps up production.
Now Electrek has learned that Tesla will finally start promoting the vehicle, or at least the performance version, by incentivizing its sales team to sell the vehicle and offering test drives.
At a press briefing for the delivery of the first few Model 3 vehicleslast year, Musk said that they are actively “anti-selling” the Model 3:
“We do everything we can to not sell the car.”
We have seen examples of this “anti-selling” where Tesla salespeople would call Model 3 reservation holders and try to sell them on the Model S instead.
Further hinting at subdued demand, Tesla is going to start offering commissions to salespeople:
It’s now becoming clear that Tesla is moving away from this ‘anti-selling’ as it is finally starting to offer test drives in the Model 3 and it is even incentivizing its sales staff to sell the Performance version Model 3.
A source familiar with the matter told Electrek that as part of Tesla’s latest update to its commission plan, the automaker plans to start giving out $300 commission for each sale of new Model 3 Performance version.
Until now, Tesla’s Model 3 sales were handled by Tesla’s inside sales team and owner advisors in stores weren’t given extra compensation to sell the vehicle.
It seems more and more - with the tent outside of the Fremont factory and the launch of the conventional commission sales model about to be employed for the sale of Model 3s - that Tesla is trying very hard to turn itself into the "traditional" car company that it swore it wasn’t going to become.
Shifting the company's strategy on such a grand scale could wind up costing even more time and resources - and if demand has faded the way that it seems to have for the Model 3, it may be too little too late for Tesla.