Tesla Motor Inc.’s first mass-production electric car, the Model 3, will be introduced on Thursday evening. But if you want one soon—and particularly if you want to have any hope of taking full advantage of government subsidies—you should probably get in line now.
This isn’t a figure of speech. Eager Model 3 buyers can go join the queue at the nearest Tesla showroom, where starting Thursday morning you can put down a $1,000 deposit in person. Nevermind that no one has even seen the car yet and that the first delivery won’t happen for at least another year.
It sounds ludicrous, but that’s exactly what thousands of people around the world are going to do: Put down a $1,000 without so much as a test drive or a single review. Some analysts are anticipating more than 100,000 reservations in the next few weeks. People started camping out, iPhone-style, at several showrooms in California on Wednesday, and a man in Australia reportedly stood in line for 48 hours to be first to put down a deposit. This isn’t to drive away with a shiny new Tesla; this is for a reservation to buy one many months in the future.
There’s a rational case for the frenzy. Early buyers might save as much as $7,500 off the $35,000 sticker price of the Model 3. The rush is on, in part, because a crucial U.S. federal tax credit set up to encourage development of electric cars is nearing its expiration. The tax credit’s complicated phase-out begins for each carmaker several months after achieving a cumulative 200,000 in U.S. sales of electric cars. For Tesla, that threshold isn’t far off. Read More