Tesla Chaos Continues: Musk Begs for Delivery Help, Company Reinstates Referrals Weeks After Eliminating Them

The revolving door of Tesla business model changes and shifts in focus continues, as an internal e-mail from Elon Musk to employees pleading for delivery help leaked on Thursday night, hours before the company announced that they were bringing back their referral program that they had ditched just weeks prior.

CEO Elon Musk sent the e-mail to his employees to let them know that car delivery should be everybody’s "top priority" until the end of the quarter, which is in nine days. This "push" to get vehicles delivered comes just days after we reported that the company was asking employees to "volunteer" to deliver vehicles. 

Business Insider, who viewed the email and first broke its contents, said that its subject line was “Vehicle Delivery Help Needed!”.

The e-mail stated:

“For the last ten days of the quarter, please consider your primary priority to be helping with vehicle deliveries. This applies to everyone. As challenges go, this is a good one to have, as we’ve built the cars and people have bought the cars, so we just need to get the cars to their new owners!

“What has made this particularly difficult is that Europe and China are simultaneously experiencing the same massive increase in delivery volume that North America experienced last year. In some locations, the delivery rate is over 600% higher than its previous peak! This was further exacerbated by supplier shortages of EU spec components and a sticker printing error on our part in China that were only resolved in the past few weeks.

“North America is also stressed, as the final month of this quarter is almost all North America builds. Moreover, for the first two weeks of march most cars were sent from our factory in California to the East Coast to ensure arrival before the end of the quarter.

“The net result is a massive wave of deliveries needed throughout Europe, China and North America. This is the biggest wave in Tesla’s history, but it is primarily a function of our first delivery of mass manufactured cars on two continents simultaneously, and will not be repeated in subsequent quarters.

Many company skeptics pondered whether or not the "leaked" e-mail's content constituted a material change in Tesla's guidance for the upcoming quarter. 

A similar internal email was sent on Friday, March 15 from senior vice president Sanjay Shah, who reportedly said: "We need your help to make more progress in volunteer sign ups. We have to deliver 30,000 more cars in next 15 days." 

Just hours after Musk's e-mail leaked, and days after changing its mind about closing stores and price hikes, Tesla has also (again) changed its mind on another part of its business model, re-implementing a referral program that it had shut down just weeks ago due to it being "too costly to maintain". The company said in an a blog statement:

“While our previous Referral Program was very successful, it came with significant costs, and ending the program last year allowed us to pass those savings along to customers. We’ve since restructured the program to save the company money while also offering rewards that are super exclusive.”

The referral program now comes off like a raffle you'd participate in at a carnival, rather than a serious program that will legitimately drive business to the company. 

A referral now nets the new and existing customer 1,000 miles of free Supercharging and, in raffle-like fashion, "gives people a chance to win a Founder’s Series Model Y each month and a Founder’s series Roadster supercar quarterly, both signed by Elon Musk and Franz von Holzhausen". Each referrer can only win each prize once, according to the new rules. 

Musk admitted on Twitter that the change in rules would help prevent those with a "massive social media presence" from repeatedly winning prizes. Maybe that's why pro-Tesla blog electrek's Fred Lambert appears to have soured on the company, as we reported days ago.