- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Customers have waited over three years for the $35,000, base-price version of Tesla‘s Model 3 sedan.
- On February 28, Tesla began allowing customers to place orders for the $35,000 Model 3, known as the standard-range trim, saying the vehicles would be delivered in two to four weeks.
- Less than two weeks later, the electric-car maker said deliveries for new orders would take six to eight weeks.
- Five customers who’ve ordered the standard-range Model 3 who spoke with Business Insider have been given indefinite delivery timelines.
- Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Customers have waited over three years for the $35,000, base-price version of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan. In March, they received the latest in a series of delays.
On February 28, Tesla began allowing customers to place orders for the $35,000 Model 3, known as the standard-range trim, saying the vehicles would be delivered in two to four weeks. Less than two weeks later, the electric carmaker said deliveries for new orders would take six to eight weeks. Five standard-range-Model 3 customers who spoke with Business Insider have been given indefinite delivery timelines.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
“This sure as hell sounds like a bait and switch to me,” said Bob Whiteman, who lives in San Francisco and made a $1,000 reservation for the standard-range Model 3 on the first possible day: March 31, 2016.
Whiteman paid a $2,500 deposit to order the vehicle on February 28. He says that while he was given a two- to four-week delivery timeline when he placed his order, he was skeptical.
“Considering I had seen estimate ranges like that from Tesla many, many times over – all of them dramatically broken – I put very little stake in that,” he said.
On March 22, Whiteman received a text from Tesla setting a tentative delivery date of March 30, which gave him confidence his Model 3 would arrive soon. Two days later, however, Tesla sent him a text delaying his delivery indefinitely.
“Our apologies, we will need to reschedule your delivery appointment to a later date,” the text said. “A Tesla representative will reach out when we have a better estimate of your delivery timing.”
Whiteman said he no longer trusted Tesla’s projections for when his Model 3 would arrive.
“I have no reason to believe any dates from Tesla,” he said.
Three other Model 3 customers who spoke with Business Insider received the same text as Whiteman after getting tentative delivery dates scheduled for late March. Another Model 3 customer was sent a similar message via email, though he had not been given a delivery date.
“I am not able to give you a firm estimation on delivery for your car,” the email said. “However, you will get a notification when your Model 3 is almost at the end of line.”
‘I just don’t want to feel like I’m being taken advantage of’
Brent Hyden, who lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, reserved his standard-range Model 3 in March 2016. When he placed his order on March 1, he recalls, he found the two- to four-week delivery time frame “kind of odd” since he suspected there would be high demand for the $35,000 model.
On March 22, Tesla gave Hyden a tentative March 28 delivery date; on March 24, he received the rescheduling text. A few days later, a Tesla employee called Hyden and told him he could receive a Model 3 by the end of March if he upgraded from the standard-range trim to the standard-range-plus trim, which adds 20 miles of range for an extra $2,500. Hyden said he wasn’t interested.
The employee told Hyden the standard-range Model 3 probably wouldn’t be available until the end of June, Hyden said. While he’s still excited for his Model 3, Hyden said, he’s been disappointed with Tesla’s communication.
“I’d feel a lot better about my experience with the company if they were just up front, open, and honest,” he said. “I just don’t want to feel like I’m being taken advantage of.”
Not all standard-range Model 3 customers are upset with Tesla. Celia Chiang, who lives in San Jose, California, made a March 2016 reservation and ordered her Model 3 on February 28. While she didn’t expect a three-year wait, she said she understood why, from a financial perspective, Tesla had delayed standard-range deliveries.
“It’s completely OK with me,” she said. “I want them to do well. I want them to make money.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk expressed a similar sentiment in May, saying Tesla would “lose money and die” if it started building and delivering the standard-range Model 3 back then. In June, Musk said Tesla would most likely begin making $35,000 Model 3s near the end of 2018 and aim for mass production in early 2019.
Tesla did not respond when asked whether production for the standard-range Model 3 had begun.
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