awful delivery logistics at Tesla

awful delivery logistics at Tesla

I have never seen a more poorly organized, painfully slow delivery process than the one Tesla now has in place.

It takes a week to get the car from the factory to a rail depot in San Francisco. Then it takes more than three weeks to ship the car by 19th-century rail transportation to Birmingham, Alabama. Then it takes Tesla a week to find a driver willing to ship the car from Birmingham, Alabama to Orlando Florida. And then it takes a minimum of three days to drive the car from Birmingham, Alabama to Orlando Florida - a distance of about 580 miles.

So far, those last two steps haven't been completed and it may even take longer.

If the car ever gets to Orlando store/service center, it must sit at the store for at least a day for inspection. Inspection is a good idea but Tesla sells so few cars, why does that require an entire day?

Tesla may make a great product, but the company's logistics are just awful. | September 3, 2015

If you pick it up from the factory you eliminate all those delays!

Blueshift | September 3, 2015

The trick is to deliver 1,000 personally-customized cars per week to customers in 18 countries on four continents while burning through investor cash and trying to scale the company and market to sufficient size fast enough to eventually be profitable at scale. This while simultaneously building the largest battery factory on earth, opening 500 supercharger sites in 21 counties and continuing to design and build revolutionary (truly revolutionary, as in no one has done it before) products.

mgtesla1 | September 3, 2015

I am in the same boat as ewtriplett and have very similar thoughts. 3.5 weeks now, and I suspect another week to get the thing actually ready for pickup here in Minnesota. All this with no transparency at all and pretty much no voluntary feedback from my "DS". Yes, Tesla could do much better. This experience sucks.

Ponyotoro | September 4, 2015

Tesla could do better. That is for sure. Tesla is still a relatively new auto company. It doesn't help that they have to fight state by state to sell and deliver their products. If you make enough complaints and express your discontent in the right places and the right people you might get things to go your way a bit. You might even help spark changes to take place that is needed. Which in turn will help improve the whole operation. Keep in mind that Tesla is different from other car companies. They are also not the dealership process that you are used to. So, make sure your intentions are to help improve the operation and not just blatant bashing. I'm sure if Tesla could beam your car right on your driveway after its assembled, they would. Waiting for delivery of any product across multiple state lines is always the worst and longest part of ordering online. Specially for vehicles. Once the product leaves the factory, it's out of Tesla's hands. Once you get it, though, you will forgive and forget pretty quickly.

Uncle Paul | September 4, 2015

This is not unusual for any custom built cars. They cannot just air freight them due to costs.
If volume is light, then the factory can just store their cars in their lots until they have enough going to one location to make a full load (6 cars). If your location does not have 6 cars coming, you need to wait until others in your area order additional cars.

Now that Tesla is pumping out significant volume, they will be moving to freight trains. That is the only way to get their volume of vehicles out of the factory. The logistics get important where the company needs to balance the needs of their finances with the expectations of their customers.

Most customers want their cars ASAP, however doing this would be very inefficient. Gotta find a balance.

Rocky_H | September 4, 2015

@phawker1, Quote: "This is not unusual for any custom built cars."

Yes, this. I was just talking with someone who knew someone who had ordered a Corvette, and it took something like 3 to 4 months to get it.

ram1901 | September 4, 2015

The big three use rail because they send large quantities of vehicles to regions. Tesla is so specialized they should consider using something like this until they are really pumping out 500,000 cars a year..

These kinds of Carriers take about 5 business days from the West to the East coast for delivery and it's more of a one-on-one transport arrangement rather than the convoluted scenario mentioned above.
I suspect the $1,200 delivery charge would be sufficient to cover such a cost, particularly considering the volume of business they would receive from Tesla.

Hard to believe they using the system mentioned by @ewtriplett

DougJohnson | September 5, 2015

Once upon a time, I ordered a BMW on Saturday, it came out of the factory on Monday, was on a truck on Tuesday, arrived at the dealer on Thursday, and I picked it up on Saturday. -- Doug

Captain_Zap | September 5, 2015


Are you sure it wasn't just coming off another dealer's lot?

gloriall | September 5, 2015

Yes my car arrived in Alabama on a Thursday or Friday by rail. By Monday it was sitting in the parking lot of a Hardees in Rome, Ga on a car transport with five other Teslas. I was supposed to pick it up on Tuesday or Wedsnesday. It arrived in Marietta, Ga. ( a distance of 54 miles from Rome) on Thursday afternoon. I drove past it on Wednesday morning on the way from Knoxville and talked to the ladies in Hardees who told me that the driver of the transport frequently left the transport truck with vehicles on it sitting in the Hardees parking lot for several days.
My delivery specialist (who had told me pick could easily be done on Tuesday, at the latest Wednesday) arranged to have my car detailed and the dual charger installed and met me at 7am friday morning for delivery.
I had repeatedly emphasized that I had a commitment to be in Louisville, Kentucky no later than 8pm on Friday, a distance of 450 miles. My other hobby is keeping and showing nishikigoi -Ko,i and I had to drive home,to Knoxville, catch, examine and select 5-7 25+ inch koi, bag and box them, then drive to Louisville for the Louisville koi show where they had to be unboxed and placed in their show tanks before 8pm.
The crazy part of all of this is that I chose to go to a Tesla store to take delivery of my vehicle so I could get the
"Full delivery experience". I live 200 miles from any Tesla store and could have had the car delivered to me. The delivery itself ended up being very rushed because I was under time constraints by that point. I actually learned everything from online videos and reading this forum.

DougJohnson | September 5, 2015


It was already in the production queue for another dealer. My dealer did a swap. The particular model had a limited set of options and colors so it shouldn't have been real hard to find a car already being built that met my order.

Yeah, I know. It is kind of apples to oranges with the OP's situation, but I've always liked the story.
-- Doug

Bparekh19 | September 13, 2017

This is an older thread but nothing has changed. My car has been in transit since a million light years and god knows when it will be delivered to NJ. Last I know since a few days it's sitting in Birmingham aL. They can't find a truck to put it on it's way to NJ.

SO | September 13, 2017

Tesla relies on 3rd party transit for many cars. The car carrier that delivered my car also delivers for other manufacturers.

carlk | September 13, 2017

Next time buy your car from Amazon perhaps.

DTsea | September 13, 2017

Bparekh is getting his car from Andromeda galaxy apparently. Or the pleistocene.

rxlawdude | September 13, 2017

Except a light-year isn't a unit of time.;-)

dmm1240 | September 14, 2017

I received delivery of my Model X last Friday, well within the window promised when I ordered the car. Taking delivery went smooth as silk. I have no complaints.

Well, Tesla could do some work on their website to keep anxious soon-to-be owners updated closer to real time. Tesla buyers are an impatient bunch. | September 14, 2017

@Bparekh19 - So you've been waiting over 2 years for your car? Are you sure you actually ordered the car? Current lead time is about 6 weeks for a factory car.

Bparekh19 | September 15, 2017

teslatap = where did i say i ordered 2 years ago? I just meant to say it's taking way too long in transit!!!!!! and yes i know i ordered the car. thank you for asking lol

carlk | September 16, 2017

@Bparekh19 It's the same if you order a car from any car company. My Porsche dealer had no idea where the car was until it reached the Oakland port and still no idea where is was for the next 30 miles. Go buy an inventory car if you don't like to wait.

Bparekh19 | September 16, 2017

thank you carlk for your suggestions. i will try amazon!

jeffrey.herrera | June 2, 2018

I just got told my delivery appointment was pushed back to Wednesday because my car is sitting in Alabama. It's very frustrating to have waited for two years and then to feel like things go wrong at the very end. I can't imagine what the impact of this kind of experience will be if they keep doing this for 400k people? I'm certainly not happy after all the planning and money paid in advance. And I got the same comment from Tesla saying if I could beam it over I would. That's insulting to me and so is the "go get an inventory car". I'm a big believer in Tesla but I'm a bigger believer in quality and service from my business side. Bad experiences like this times 400k can definitely destroy a company no matter how good the vision or intent is.

dmm1240 | June 2, 2018

Sigh. There is nothing out of the ordinary about waiting longer than you’d like for a factory ordered car to arrive. It’s pretty much standard in the industry. Order a car, Tesla or ICE, the best case scenario is 2-3 months after you confirm your order, 4 if something happens. Tesla uses both rail and trucks just as all car manufacturers do. Some ship by ships if the factory is overseas. That’s just the way it works.

The only way to get a car in a day or two is: 1) It’s already in production and has been for a while; and 2) you purchase off a dealer’s lot. If you purchase a Tesla you can’t one off a lot because all are custom made. You can buy a used one through Tesla that will arrive in 7-14 days.

You guys are waiting on a model that was nothing more than a prototype two years ago. A production version didn’t exist. Extensive road tests hadn’t been done. No assembly line existed to build it. Ground had just been broken on the factory that would produce the batteries to power it.

As has been said ad nauseum, the flood of 455,000 deposits surprised Tesla, surprised the entire industry. The original schedule was to scale up to the level Tesla is at now at the start of 2019. Full blown production (10,000 weekly) was to occur in 2020. To respond to the unforeseen demand, Tesla shortened the ramp up schedule by two years. They are currently 6 months behind on that schedule, 18 months ahead on the original schedule.

Want a Tesla in 2-3 months? You can get one. Order an X or S. Yours will arrive 8-12 weeks after you configure. I originally had a M3 reservation, releazied around this time last year that it would be quite a while before mine arrived, longer than I was willing to wait. So, I cancelled my M3 reservation and decided to buy a MX. I configured the MX I wanted and put down the $2,500 deposit 6/7/17. Tesla gave me a delivery window starting on 8/8/17. I asked to defer it a month because I would be gone most of the summer and couldn’t accept delivery in August. Tesla obligingly rescheduled for around 9/15/17. After it shipped, my MX took around 3 weeks to make it from California to Georgia. I took delivery on 9/8/17, a week ahead of the schedule Tesla had provided.

One more thing, go over to the MX forum and look at the threads there. Pretty tame compared to this one. A year ago that same forum was just as hot as this one. Folks were complaining their FWDs weren’t functioning properly, about fit and trim problems, about what’s known as MX shudder. Now? You don’t see much. Tesla ironed all those problems (except the shudder) out. The FWD software was improved operating the doors faster while making them more reliable. Fit and trim improved. New owners who had problems cars were repaired at no charge.

That is the way it will go here as well.

There is one thing Tesla has never figured out, no one in this country anyway, and that is how to make the trains run faster. Europe and Asia? Yeah, but we’ve got our heads stuck up our keisters when it comes to railroads.

sbeggs | June 2, 2018

Nice analysis. And you are right about our railroads, compared to everyone else's.

sosmerc | June 3, 2018

Perhaps someday Tesla will have store/showrooms with enough product on display that you might be able to select and purchase a car on the spot. Some people might complain that this would be too much like a "dealership".....but shouldn't Tesla be able to improve the experience? I am not an Apple product user, but I do hear many positive comments about the Apple Store experience so maybe that could be a model.

dmm1240 | June 3, 2018

Tesla stores are modeled after Apple Stores. For the past few years, Tesla has been moving away from locating its stores on car row — areas where a number of dealerships are located — in favor of shopping malls. The Apple Store benefits in that its products are small. They can stock iMacs, iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches in the back room. Tesla doesn't have that luxury. There is simply not enough room to keep several acres of unsold cars out there.

There is another advantage for Tesla and its customers using the factory order model. If you buy a car off a dealer's lot the odds of getting it with exactly the colors and options you want are small. I've bought new cars for decades and have never found one that was exactly what I wanted. When you order from the website will be driving a new car with exactly the choices you want. IMO, it's worth the wait. Two years? No, but in this case that's the product of bringing something entirely new to market that's difficult to make. Two to three months? Surely we aren't so spoiled as to be that impatient.

lilbean | June 3, 2018

It’s so much more fun to go to a dealership and wait for six hours while smelling the saleman’s cheap cologne and watching him walk back and forth to the manager’s office.

sosmerc | June 3, 2018

It is easy to understand why so many "veteran" car buyers are down on their past dealership experiences. I am old enough to have experienced it more than a few times as well. However, I must say, the last time I bought a brand new car (last year) from a dealership, the experience was much improved. I didn't feel pressured and they made the experience pretty easy. They didn't have the exact car I wanted, but they found one in short order and got it to me in short order. I would definitely consider that same dealership again.....IF they sold a pure EV that is what I am looking for.
They are also located conveniently close such that routine service is easy. I have had no issue to date with my one year old Volt and I am enjoying it as an awesome "transition" vehicle.....while I wait for my Tesla or similar vehicle. I don't mind the wait because I do not want to have to deal with some of the many issues that SOME new Tesla owners have had. I am a shareholder as well, so I do have skin in the game and want Tesla to succeed with all of their goals.
Expanding their service centers, showrooms and supercharging stations has to be high on the list of their goals.

beardco | June 3, 2018

The underlying issue in the production/delivery frustration is the service center behavior; including their lack of communication.
The service center employees have a list of behaviors they are expected to conform to. This includes everything from the moment you schedule a test drive appointment to taking delivery.

The first telephone appointment I made was with a very confused person who didn't understand the battery sizes, or much else. When I took the actual test drive, the middle aged female sales agent was contemptuous and derisive. She continually spoke about herself and her children. I asked her to quit talking so I could hear the premium audio upgrade; she couldn't do it. She made fun of the fact that I had a pen with me to take notes. She got frustrated about my questions regarding auto park, and angrily told me to just park it myself.

The manager emailed me about my experience. I told her it was poor. She offered a vehicle delivered to my home to keep overnight with instructions to the sales agent to explain the car to me. To basically do a reset on this experience. Sales agent and delivery guy show up one morning, full of attitude, ask if there are any questions. I said yes, and they said they had no time. They had a store to open. Good bye.

A year later I did another test drive. This time I got a 20 something guy who was just too cool to tell me anything about the car. We drove slowly through residential neighborhoods and then back to the dealer. Still no sale.

Another year goes by. I telephone the service center and get the same 20 something on the phone. His attitude is a complete turnaround. He is polite, helpful and urges me to call his cell so I can reach him directly and immediately.

I order a model S and the delivery guy tells me he will contact when vehicle goes into production. Doesn't happen. I use the Tesla website chat function to ask Fremont about the production schedule for my car. They are polite and tell me the time frame. Also indicating that they will contact the service center. Meaning the service center is not doing their job.

I'm contacted the next day by the service center (surprise!). They're sorry. The will contact me when the car finishes production and we will discuss timing of transit and delivery. Didn't happen. So, on Tuesday, we are back to contacting Fremont, and Fremont is back to using the cattle prod on the service center.

Also what I found out is that last week's production delays (of model S, at least) were due to the production line stopping for a few days. My frame was built and then sat for four days. Which means production updates and improvements, and I certainly don't mind that. But no one was going to tell me because the delivery guy wasn't doing his job.

I mention all of this to encourage those with non-responsive service centers to do what I did. Do an end-run around the service center and let Tesla deal with their miscreant employees. That way Tesla knows what is going on, and the experience will improve. What I left out was that in every instance listed above, I told Fremont about my experience.

I feel pretty confident that Elon has little to no tolerance for those collecting paychecks and not performing.

Don't get mad, get even. (Insert evil laugh.)

sosmerc | June 3, 2018

Whenever we use the word "Tesla" in our discussions we have to remember that we are talking about people. Just like when we talk about "the government"....we are talking about people. When either one of them fails to is their people that have failed to deliver. Elon can't personally manage every single person so instead he has got to create an atmosphere where everyone strives for the best they can be. Clearly there is a great deal of room for improvement.

johnyi | June 3, 2018

@sosmerc, it may be years before Tesla will have enough supply to stock a show room for drive-off-the-lot sales. So far they have haven't been able to keep up with demand, so every car made is already sold before it leaves the factory!

Though, for those in a hurry, there are sometimes "inventory" car available on short notice (S/X). These are cars that someone ordered but canceled last minute. The two times I test drove a MS, they said they found an inventory car that was close (not exact) to what I wanted and could have it in 7-10 days. And sometimes these inventory cars are demo's, but never registered so they are still new and qualify for the tax rebate. I was offered on of those (P100D with 1500 miles, $12K discount) just two weeks ago as I was ordering my 100D.

This is no different than any other brand whose cars sell faster than they can make them. You can't walk into a Ferrari dealer and drive a new one off the lot either :-)

My guess is once the M3 production is at full tilt and the backlog is worked down, there will be some M3's in this inventory as well. As well as M3's to test drive at each show room. But I don't see them having lots full of unsold Tesla's for a long time. Maybe once all the "Tesla Killers" finally actually show up :-)

sosmerc | June 4, 2018

I suspect you will be may take years. And that's probably why the other manufacturers are sort of "dragging their feet" into the EV world.

julieoh212 | June 6, 2018

Customer Service at the "dealership" (or whatever it's called) is unbelievably sub-par, especially for a luxury product. I can't get them to send me wire instructions, etc! I'm trying to pay them, for goodness sakes. It's Wednesday and I'm supposed to pick up Monday. Is this normal?

PLEASE tell me the MAINTENANCE department is more service oriented. And I don't have to ask a dozen times for direction.

nbjohnson1017 | August 4, 2018

I'm having the same issue. The stupid website has been saying my vehicle is in transport for weeks now. I'm not cure how fast that train travels , but a camel could have gotten it here faster then this. Telsa still cant give me a delivery date as of yet and my delivery specialist is I'mpossible to contact. I am really be coming frustrated with tesla due to its poor communication and unprofessional shipping methods. They must do better.

SO | August 4, 2018

Tesla is overwhelmed at the moment. Tesla thought at most they demand would be 200,000 Model 3’s. It ended up being more than double that.

I think it will be somewhat painful dealing with tesla for the next few years until they can stabilize the entire process. But still absolutely worth having the car, no doubt!

bawaj | March 3, 2020

are there any updates to this thread in 2020. Have they improved the delivery time from Factory to buyer?

PrescottRichard | March 3, 2020

I received my car over a year ago, everything went pretty quickly (it is a pre-owned 2016 S 90D).

That’s prolly not the info you’re looking for, but I can report that based on posts I’m seeing on the AZ FaceBook page quite a few are getting cars, mostly 3s. There’s even a Y or two that should be shipping soon. From what I can tell most of the orders are close to the anticipated delivery dates, but there is at least one person who is waiting still on a car ordered in January.

There’s an Oder to how Tesla builds cars, something like the right-hand drive cars get built for Europe first each quarter. I don’t know specifics and that could change of course.

Where are you located? That may factor in as well. Seems like Tesla has gotten this down much better now but that is just my impression. There’s always one or two that go sideways, I suspect people are more likely to complain about a bad experience than rave about a good one. Most of the new owner posts I see are asking for recommendations for tinting or chrome delete places. That’s a good sign!