As Tesla Model 3 Reservation Holders Wait (and Wait and Wait), GM Says It'll Play Nice

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The number of people willing to plunk down a $1,000 deposit for a Tesla Model 3 currently stands at about 455,000. In the third quarter of 2017, Tesla delivered 220 units of its smallest and most affordable electric car. Last quarter, some 1,550 buyers took ownership.

If it looks like it’s shaping up to be a long wait for the newest reservation holders, you’re right. Tesla claims it has succeeded in working out some of the issues hampering production at its Fremont, California assembly plant, but the pushed-back ramp-up of Model 3 production means some reservation holders won’t see their new car this decade. Meanwhile, you can not only walk into a General Motors dealer and order a Chevrolet Bolt today, but you can expect delivery well before the 2020 election campaign gets into full swing.

Is GM planning to exploit its competitor’s production woes? Not us, the automaker claims.

Speaking to Automotive News, Steve Majoros, marketing director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers, said a targeted campaign is “not in the cards.”

If it did, it wouldn’t be first time an automaker tried to lure Model 3 groupies away from the band. In early 2016, Nissan launched an ad aimed at those waiting for Tesla’s upcoming wundersedan. “Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf today?” the cheeky company stated, hammering the point home by saying, “No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today.”

Nissan also tossed incentives at would-be buyers in the hopes of picking up some fence sitters. of course, brand loyalty plays a big part in electric vehicle purchasing, and there’s no group of people more willing to wait for a car than Tesla devotees. Should any of these reservation holders grow tired of sitting by the phone, Nissan’s second-generation Leaf is currently waiting at the door, flowers in hand. It’s part of a growing segment that includes the Bolt and Hyundai Ioniq.

One of the reasons for GM’s attitude could be the Bolt’s strong sales numbers. Since availability reached all 50 states last summer, GM has seen Bolt sales rise each consecutive month. No need to rock the EV boat, perhaps. December saw the model top the 3,000-unit mark in the U.S. (3,227, to be exact), with volume for the whole year standing at 23,297 vehicles.

Both Bolt and Model 3 share a similar entry price, with the GM vehicle edging out the base Model 3 in terms of range. Pricier, 300-mile Long Range variants were first off the Tesla assembly line.

In a statement, Tesla claims it is “very appreciative” of the customers who “continue to stick by” the company. GM says a study group held last year showed early Bolt buyers remained fairly interested in the Model 3, though Majoros told AN that Chevy has seen an unspecified number of Tesla buyers show up looking for an EV. It’s quite possible that, in some cases, the Bolt is the model holding over the buyer until the Model 3 wait window closes.

In its quarterly update, Tesla said it expects to produce 3,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the second quarter of 2018. When production kicked off, the company hoped to hit that mark by the end of 2017.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jan 08, 2018

    " Tesla claims it has succeeded in working out some of the issues hampering production " Someone found the on-off switch on that Michigan-made pre-built production line, perhaps? Sedan sales are falling off everywhere, but up to 445,000 deposit-waving semi-delusional folk like them just fine in Model 3 duds. They want to be part of a religious movement. Judging by the 550 per month build rate in QTR 4, they're being built by people wielding rubber mallets and tinsnips while trireme-trained taskmasters flick whips over the straining crew. Of course, the official reason is that the Gigafactory cannot weld those cells into battery packs quickly enough. This charade has gone on long enough, surely. It's time to sh!t or get off the pot when you are so vertically integrated, responsible for most of the bits and pieces yourself. Next we'll find out that the $35K price really was a come-on.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 09, 2018

      Are you saying that because sedans are losing popularity, Model 3 buyers have a misplaced interest in that car and really ought to buy a CUV? Is it possible they just prefer low operating costs in a nice-looking car that does 0-60 in 4.7 seconds? No, that's not possible; it must be a religious thing because stereotypes work best on TTAC.

  • John Horner John Horner on Jan 08, 2018

    About a year ago I took a tour of Tesla's factory. The tour guides were oh so proud of how the company had reinvented automotive manufacturing. Meanwhile I was wondering why they were turning out one vehicle per hour from a factory Toyota used to make one vehicles per 30 seconds in. It is cliche, but still true, so say that Toyota has forgotten more about high quality volume production than Tesla management knows.

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 09, 2018

      John, I think the biggest problem at Tesla is Musk. His visions, which he has many visions (some are interesting) are complicating the production side of his business. Musk should just let the subject matter experts do their job. He must listen to them. I think the best chance anyone has of ever seeing a Model 3 is someone/s need to force Musk into offloading Tesla. I had a "Big Al" vision, many will lose lots of money soon in Tesla or dealing with Tesla. I think Sergio is a far better operator than Musk.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!
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