Tesla Delays Model 3 Delivery Dates for Anxious Would-Be Drivers

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Tesla Inc. customers who waited in line in March 2016 to place deposits for the first Model 3s will have to be patient even longer after delivery dates for many reservation holders have slipped again.

Several would-be drivers said they received e-mails from the electric-car maker on Wednesday night -- after the company reported its fourth quarter earnings -- saying their expected delivery dates had been pushed back. Some Day 1 reservation holders are now seeing “late 2018” for the $35,000 Model 3 with the standard battery pack, while others who placed orders the following day have reported their date is now “early 2019.”

“As we work hard to meet demand, we wanted to let you know that your estimated delivery timing has been adjusted to a slightly later window,” the e-mail from Tesla said. “Thank you for your patience.”

The new date depends on when the reservation was placed and what model was ordered. Tesla is making the more expensive Model 3s with a long-range battery first. That’s a tough pill to swallow for cost-conscious drivers who ordered the cheapest version with hopes of qualifying for the full $7,500 federal tax credit. That credit begins to phase out once U.S. automakers hit 200,000 cars sold in the U.S., which Tesla is expected to reach sometime this year.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on the earnings call Wednesday that Tesla remains on track to meet its goal to build 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week by the end of June, a target that’s been delayed several times. Musk, also head of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., reassured Wall Street that “if we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production.”

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But consumers aren’t so sure. “My bad @Tesla Model 3 news finally came, friends. My estimate in MyTesla got updated and ... it’s not good if you’re wanting the standard battery or all-wheel drive. I’m in the latter camp,” Ryan McCaffrey, a Model 3 reservation holder, wrote on Twitter. “Very bummed out right now, as this has serious tax credit implications.”

Still, he says he’s not changing his plans. “It’s frustrating but I’m gonna have this car for 10+ years,” he wrote. “I’m not gonna let a few months delay alter my plan.”

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