By: Kimberly Doherty, Senior Project Manager; Pam Cunningham, Research Manager
With 373,000 deposits in for the Tesla Model 3, questions are circulating around consumers’ expectations: How long do they plan to wait for delivery? What features do they expect the vehicle to come equipped with, and what do they want to add on? In search of answers, we reached out to our MyDrivingPower (MDP) community members who put down a deposit to uncover their insight and opinions.
The Model 3’s competitive price has captured the attention of EV and gas-powered vehicle owners alike, not to mention current Tesla owners. How much it will cost to equip the vehicle with additional features though is still unknown. Curious about consumers’ willingness to pay for add-ons, we asked MDP members that placed deposits on the Model 3 how they plan to configure their new vehicle. In true vehicle enthusiast fashion, none plan to drive off with a base model.
Most members we reached out to are realistic about the upgrades they want. They do not plan to buy a ‘fully loaded’ vehicle, but will weigh the cost against benefits of each individual feature. Typically, these consumers estimate they will spend $45,000 – $50,000 for the final product. Some of the ‘must have’ features are functional, including extended battery range, all-wheel drive (dual motor), and supercharging. A few expressed an interest in autopilot, but it generally is not a ‘must have’. The possibility of a tax credit will also factor in how much extra they are willing to spend on their vehicle.
For example, here were two direct member quotes:
“I assumed I would spend ~$50k to get what I want. All-wheel drive is mandatory. Longer range is mandatory. All other options will be decided on costs/benefits.”
“I plan to get all-wheel drive, a battery that is close to 85kwHr as they have a supercharger (if there is a fee), and autopilot. Once the prices are known, I’m hopeful that will price the car near $45,000.”
There is a significant gap between when deposits were made for the vehicle and when the Model 3 will be released (many industry experts estimate mid 2018 at the earliest). But how long are people actually willing to wait to buy? Many MDP members claim they are committed to their planned purchase and don’t mind the long wait. Some are trying to manipulate their current lease-end date to coincide with the release of the Model 3. Still others say they will try to extend their current lease or see if the dealership will allow them to continue to lease on a month-to-month basis, or will make due with another vehicle in their household. Additional member quotes highlight this:
“I’m considering this an EV pioneer experience so…as long as it takes.”
“I’ll wait until the end of February 2018 when my Model S lease is up. That seems pretty consistent with the time they are saying deliveries will begin. If there is a delay beyond that date, I guess I’ll be stuck driving my Spark EV for a while.”
Placing a $1,000 down payment indicates a level of consumer interest and commitment, and our community members are a historically dedicated group, but do they have faith in their fellow enthusiasts? Many believe at least 50% of those who placed a deposit will follow through with an actual purchase. Timing may play a role, they say, as not everyone has control over when they need a new vehicle. Moreover, a person’s ability to purchase may be affected should their financial situation change between deposit date and vehicle availability.
Other MDP members speculate the potential for competitors to release new EV products before the Model 3 is ready, which may sway shoppers hoping to get their hands on a vehicle sooner. As seen from the member comments below, there is doubt as to whether another automaker could introduce a true competitor before the Model 3 is ready, but some admit they would consider other options they see as tempting.
“Perhaps[people will be swayed] if the enhanced CCS [Combined Charging System] network I read about last week actually takes off and becomes competitive with supercharging, and Nissan or GM bring out cars able to take advantage of it, but there’s no sign of that happening.”
“I feel approximately 50% will follow through. Why not a higher percentage? The very long period of time between deposit and delivery. This results in two issues, first, changes in buyers’ personal/financial situation and second, time for competition to take business.”
As seen in two quotes below, MDP members anticipate Model 3 production to begin in December 2017, with a 6-month grace period. Although these consumers have no idea where they are ‘in line’, they suspect their vehicle will be ready sometime between mid and late 2018. While their rank in the waitlist is unclear, Tesla did announce that current Tesla owners will be given priority, and those who reside in California–home of Tesla headquarters –will be among the first to obtain their vehicles.
“I will be pleasantly surprised if I see my car in 2018. 2019 is a safer bet. And for the record, I’d far rather wait for a car that’s done right, than get one soon that needs to be fixed in short order…costing me time and Tesla more money.”
“I am hopeful that deliveries will start in Dec. 2017, but I have allowed for up to 6 months to take delivery of mine specifically. I really have no idea my place in line.”
Many MDP members indicated that they are not familiar with the Tesla delivery process, but do expect to be able to pick up their Model 3 at a local dealer. Some would not mind driving a considerable distance to pick up their EV (up to 90 miles one-way), while others consumers expect it to be delivered directly to their home.
“I am not familiar with the delivery process on a Tesla, but I plan to take delivery in my home state of CA.”
“I hope to go to the factory to pick it up–it is only 90 minutes away. Or get home delivery–like my Model S.”
“I’ll pick it up from the Tesla store in Portland, OR, which is about 80 miles north of me.”
Plans are already in place for their next electric vehicle and based on feedback, most community members plan to do whatever it takes to get their own Model 3. How things evolve as more vehicle details are released and the release gets closer remains to be seen. We’ll be following up to see what MyDrivingPower members think as time goes on.