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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tesla's Clever Plan to Time The 200k US Delivery

We've been tracking Tesla's 200,000th US vehicle delivery here for over a year. This is an important delivery since it will trigger the countdown to the phaseout of the federal EV tax credit.

Our latest estimate is that Tesla will cross the 200k mark in June of this year. Since the incentive operates on 3-month increments (quarters of a year), it is much more beneficial to EV buyers if the 200k mark is crossed in the beginning of a quarter than at the end of a quarter. If our estimate is correct and Tesla would cross the mark in June, it would be much better for their US customers if they delayed this event a few weeks and waited until July to cross the 200k mark. This will give their customers nearly 3 more months of the full $7500 federal tax incentive.

Elon Musk has commented that Tesla would do the right thing for their customers in this regards. Here's his tweet from 2016:

Now that the day is approaching, how will Tesla "beget loyalty"? The answer is to delay the 200k delivery into early Q3. This would mean that the full $7500 tax credit would last until the end of 2018. This will allow many more buyers to enjoy the full incentive as their production will be in much higher gear by the end of the year.

Additionally, I like the poetry of delivering the milestone car on July 4th; making it an "End Dependence" day. Perhaps Tesla could hold an event and deliver dozens of Red, White, & Blue cars that day. Topped off with a big evening flying droneworks (rather than fireworks) show (after all drones are electric vehicles).

Red, White, & Blue Teslas
Specifically, how would Tesla bump the milestone delivery into July? There are two things that have recently happened that potentially hint at Tesla's plan.

1) Some Canadian Model 3 reservation holders are reporting that their delivery estimation dates have changed from Late 2018 to Mid 2018. Diverting a couple weeks worth of Model 3 production to our neighbor to the North would allow Tesla to move the US milestone delivery out.

2) Tesla has delayed the Model X deliveries. Earlier this month (Feb 2018), many people began to notice that the delivery estimate for new Model X orders had moved from the typical 6 weeks to "June 2018". There is a speculation that this is for a Model X refresh. This speculation may be right, Tesla could be using this time when they need to temporarily slow down deliveries to refresh their high-end vehicle. The Model 3 has, for example, a much more responsive touchscreen and a better sound system. This feature "inversion" has to be resolved soon. A vehicle that costs ~twice as much should have at least as good of a touchscreen. Putting a gap between the current Model X and the refreshed X does two things: one, it allows the current inventory to sell before the refresh is announced, this avoids the need to discount the current stock and second, it helps delay the 200k vehicle by a couple months of Model X deliveries.

These are the two things that Tesla could be doing to time the golden ticket. If this is their plan, I say bravo and congratulations to the lucky Canadians that will be getting their cars sooner and (if the rumors are true) to the soon to be Model X owners that will be receiving an upgraded car in July of this year. And most importantly, to everyone that takes delivery of a Model 3 in October, November, and December of this year and qualifies for the entire $7500 incentive instead of just $3750.