The impending release of the Model 3 will be interesting for a number of reasons. Even if we assume that Model 3 deliveries will begin in late 2017 — as the company has promised — it remains to be seen how quickly Tesla will be able to get vehicles out to a staggering number of reservation holders.
While Tesla hasn’t issued any updated figures as of late, it’s widely believed that the total number of Model 3 reservations currently falls somewhere in the 390,00-400,000 range. That’s an impressive figure to be sure, but it puts a whole a lot of pressure on Tesla to deliver Model 3 vehicles to customers in a timely manner. Indeed, it’s quite possible that existing Model 3 reservation holders may not even get the car until late 2018.
Underscoring the challenge Tesla faces with upwards of 400,000 reservations on the books, consider this: the company last year sold 76,230 vehicles. In short, Tesla will need to do everything in its power to streamline not only the manufacturing process, but its delivery process as well.
Recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took part in a call with investors where he detailed how the company plans to hasten the Model 3 delivery process. In remarks originally published by Electrek, Musk explains that the company wants to do everything it can to remove points of friction that traditionally hamper and slow down the purchasing and delivery process.
“The delivery of the cars is where the investment is needed,” Musk reportedly said. “We need to deliver three or four times as many cars. But we don’t want to have three or four times as many delivery centers.
“How do we make that delivery process more streamlined, less paperwork, less bureaucracy and get people really ahead of time with really well-produced instruction videos for how to use their car,” Musk added. “And well, of course, the best instruction is like not having instructions. And you will actually be able to play all of the instructions needed for your car on your car.”
Now as to whether or not Tesla can pull this off and prevent a frustrating backlog of orders remains to be seen. Deliveries aside, it also remains to be seen if Tesla can meet their planned 2017 delivery date. Last we heard, Tesla is still planning to ship upwards of 100,000 Model 3 vehicles before 2018. During a recent letter to shareholders, the company said that mass production is still on track to begin in July:
Model 3 vehicle development, supply chain and manufacturing are on track to support volume deliveries in the second half of 2017. In early February, we began building Model 3 prototypes as part of our ongoing testing of the vehicle design and manufacturing processes. Initial crash test results have been positive, and all Model 3-related sourcing is on plan to support the start of production in July
The next few months will certainly be interesting.