Updated Projection of US Tax Credit Phase Out (UPDATED 10/02/17 after announcement of Q3 on M3 deliveries)

Updated Projection of US Tax Credit Phase Out (UPDATED 10/02/17 after announcement of Q3 on M3 deliveries)

(UPDATED 10/02/17)
With the announcement of 26150 MS's and MX's and 220 M3's delivered in Q3, I have updated my "US Tax Credit Phase Out" projection numbers. (Skip to the last to paragraphs of this post if you don't care to see the math worked out.)

Total cars sold by Tesla (worldwide):
Through 2012 = 5,100
In 2013 = 22,442
In 2014 = 31,665 (41% increase over 2013)
In 2015 = 50,658 (60% increase over 2014)
In 2016 = 76,234 (51% increase over 2015)
Cumulative at end of 2016 = 186,098 (worldwide)
Assume 58% of sales are in the US = Total US Sales through 2016 = 107,937 (will round up to 107,950)
(58% of the sales from the US - seemed to be a historical average, and may be lower in future quarters as Tesla expands into more countries)

With the assumption of a continued 10% increase of MS and MX sales per quarter (equivalent to a 46% yearly increase) - then .....

Quarter : Future quarterly US sales / Cumulative US Sales (including M3, assuming 100% of M3's go to US customers)

Q1-2017 : 14,500 / 122,450

Q2-2017 : 15,950 / 138,400

Q3-2017 : 15,387 / 153,787 (26,150 x 0.58 assumed to be US = 15,167 + 220 M3's all assumed for the US) therefore did not hit a cumulative 200,000 US sales during this quarter

Q4-2017 (estimate w/ 10% increase in MS & MX): 16,925 / 170,713 (+ ??? Model 3's) - therefore hits 200,000 US deliveries during quarter if over 30,000 M3's are delivered in the US during Q4. Therefore, it would seem that the 200,000 threshold would be reached in Q1-2018, as any M3 over 30,000 could easily be stockpiled or sold overseas)

So my non-binding summary and conclusion is:

$7,500 Federal Tax Credit through 06/30/18
$3,750 Federal Tax Credit 07/01/18 through 12/31/18
$1,875 Federal Tax Credit 01/01/19 through 06/30/19
No Federal Tax Credit after 06/30/19

Thoughts ?? Mistakes ??? Ridicule ???

bmwgs | January 4, 2017

"Of course there are a lot of variables here". So,pure conjecture. But I get it,numbers can be fun.

raybanp | January 4, 2017

don't think anyone should be depending on the tax credit for affordability reasons on their M3.... it's so up in the air... when they hit 200k, where you are in line, geographic location, tentative delivery timeline, ect...

looking at the tax credit as the cherry on top of my M3 ownership experience... not needed but would be great

FISHEV | January 4, 2017

Looks about right. I'd certainly be counting on the tax credit to help out. It should be a bit more than 10% of the purchase price for me.

bj | January 4, 2017

Love it - application of logic and mathematics, if only there was more of it! Yes it's speculation and conjecture, but if we stopped that this forum would get 1 post per week :)

dave.m.mcdonough | January 4, 2017

I agree that you should plan on being able to afford the car without it.. but you can't deny $7500 is pretty huge!

PhillyGal | January 4, 2017

It's not only huge but may very well be the difference between someone choosing a P vs. non-P.

mntlvr23 | January 4, 2017

@bmwgs -
While there is a lot of speculation and pure conjecture on these boards, I think that my numbers and statements above represent much more than that. The worldwide sales numbers should be close and can be found at a number of sources. The percent of the sales attributed to the US has been often reported to be between 46% and 60% by a number of sources (I have included one reference below)
en.m.wikipedia DOT org/wiki/Tesla_Model_S (jump to "Sales and Markets)
The 10% quarterly increase in sales is a reasonable extrapolation of what has happened over the last three years.

As there are periodic questions on these boards regarding the phase out, I thought that I would summarize the updated situation as concisely as I could. The conclusion of Q4-2017 or Q1-2018 aligns with most previous educated estimates and is not a surprise.

The availability of the federal tax credit is a big deal. It will make or break the sale for a lot of people - and for people like myself, it will determine how many options I get. I have a minimum number of "must have" options, and then I will plow that $7500 into buying my "want to have" options, while not exceeding my max net price. It is therefore likewise a big deal for Tesla's bottom line during this huge expansion and period of capital investment.

akgolf | January 4, 2017

I hope the people that need the federal tax credit in order to afford the car realize that if they get the car in January, they won't see that credit until they do their taxes the following year. Of course that's assuming your tax liability is at least as high as the credit. If they really need that, then they may not have enough income to qualify anyway.

It will be nice, but I'm not considering it in the price of the car.

jon | January 4, 2017

With more tax credits, and availability for Teslas became available around the world, I believe the % of total sales being US Based may have gone down. No information supporting that, but it does at least appear like their's greater pushes, and more building of superchargers overseas then there is domestically in the US.

mntlvr23 | January 4, 2017

@akgof -
Everyone will definitely need the full total at purchase time, via cash or loan - but need not wait til the following spring to recoup it. Minimizing your tax withholdings accordingly early in the year of the purchase will realise the credit earilier. In fact, if you were certain that your car would be delivered in December, you could effectively get the credit in the first quarter of the year well before you receive the car with lower withholdings and larger paychecks.
Fun with numbers !!!

akgolf | January 4, 2017

@mntlvr -
Withholding less money will work for you and me, but hopefully some don't make the mistake of withholding too much. It would be a major bummer if some reduce their withholding the amount of the credit and then don't qualify.

mntlvr23 | January 4, 2017

@akagolf - agreed, if they are going to play those numbers, they better do it knowledgeably

@jon - agreed, the 58% is throughout the company's life and not the current trends.

The chart on the link shows:
2012 - 100% US
2013 - 83% US
2014 - 53% US
2015 - 50%
2016 - 53% (first half of year)
Cumulative through June 2016 - 58%

This jives with other numbers I have found:
Q3-2015: 5,756 US vs 11,597 Global = 50% US
Q3-2016: 9,156 US vs 16,047 Global = 57% US

So I agree that 58% is likely a bit high for projections beyond 06/16 (it may be closer to 50%) - though I wanted to put up a number toward the higher range - so that I erred slightly toward the credit expiring earlier than later.

bmwgs | January 4, 2017

"The availability of the federal tax credit is a big deal. It will make or break the sale for a lot of people". Again,pure conjecture. It will make or break the sale for SOME people,not a lot. It will not affect my purchase in any way because as mentioned in another reply,the credit may be at least a year after purchase,possibly longer.

KP in NPT | January 5, 2017

Just based on comments here and there across different forums/pages, I'd guess it will be make or break for only a few people. It will however factor in to option choices for some people.

roadkill | January 5, 2017

I can afford the car with or without the credit. I probably won't buy it without it. Thanks mntlvr23 for putting in the time!

roadkill | January 5, 2017

reserved am 4/1/2016

alexanmh | January 5, 2017

Do we even know if there will be a federal tax credit for 2017 and out years? I didn't think the new administration was a fan of it. Otherwise, I think the credit, if it exists, will impact more 3 buyers than the comments so far indicate. Remember that the 3 buyers are a different economic segment than the S buyers.

Haggy | January 5, 2017

Tesla is planning on 500,000 per year. Obviously they won't start out that way, but it's what they have in mind as they get new lines set up in the factory as we speak. They put literally billions of dollars into it. With the Model S and X they have done gradual improvements, and major ones such as the paint shop that can now handle 500,000 cars a year, but they didn't spend billions adding new production lines for it the way they are now. I think the ramp up will be far faster. We also don't know what percentage of sales will be domestic in any given quarter, but it's likely that they will batch international sales in a way that makes the most sense.

dsvick | January 5, 2017

@alexanmh - "Do we even know if there will be a federal tax credit for 2017 and out years? I didn't think the new administration was a fan of it. Otherwise, I think the credit, if it exists, will impact more 3 buyers than the comments so far indicate. Remember that the 3 buyers are a different economic segment than the S buyers"

As of right now the tax credit is still there for 2017. Since it is part of the tax code it can only be changed by congress. Can it happen? Sure, but it might not be too likely.

mntlvr23 | January 5, 2017

@roadkill & @bj - thanks for the good word, it is a tough crowd sometimes.

@bmwgs - ok, I will accept replacing my vague "a lot" with your more vague "some" . We cool !

@ alexnmh - regarding impact, exactly. I speculate that nearly all buyers of the Roadster, S and X had high levels of disposable income. I further postulate that the people reserving the M3 are across the full spectrum - from those stretching for a base model, to those who can swing a base but will stretch for options, to those who will stretch to load it up, all the way up to those who can easily afford a maxed out model. I will further hypothesize that there will be a lot (no, strike "a lot" and replace it with "some") who, like roadkill and myself, can afford much much more than they are willing to spend on a vehicle. But since there are (arguably) 400K to 600K reservers of the M3 two years in advance compared to under 186,000 purchasers of the previous models over a 5 year period - that the mix in the spectrum leans toward those with less disposable income.

mntlvr23 | January 5, 2017

@Everyone: Let's look at the potential impact of the Federal Tax Credit by looking at two potential extremes of the speed of the ramp up.

Scenario A: If the M3 production goes similar to the MX and say it starts 2 years late and goes slowly. In this scenario, perhaps all of the tax credits will be eaten up by MX and MS buyers leaving the M3 buyers with little or no tax credits available. That would be a drag.

Scenario B: If the M3 production goes per Elon's most optimistic statements (200,000 sold by the end of 2017, and then total production of 500,000/year after that - for which I will recklessly predict that 400,000 of them will be M3's.) The phase out trigger could conservatively be hit in Q3-2017. This would result in 200,000 M3's getting $7,500 credit in 2017, 200,000 M3's getting the $3,750 credit in the first half of 2018, and 200,000 M3's getting $1,875 credit in the second half of 2018. (Refer to my whimsical, wild ass guesses in the OP as to the potential sales to date and more info on the theoretical triggers of the phase out)

The difference between these extremes is that under Scenario B - Tesla sells M3's with over $2.6 billion of tax credits attached to them (over and above Scenario A, and above any MS's and MX's that will also get credits under either scenario). $2,600,000,000 ! .... and this could increase to $4.1B if somehow the trigger is not hit until Q4-2017. Without the tax credit, "some" of the orders disappear, and "some" other orders come with (significantly?) less options. This will eat into Tesla's potential income by some percentage of $2.6B (or $4.1B) - and "some" of this lost income will be on "reportedly" highly profitable options.

I am going to go out on a limb and conjecture that the tax credit is a big deal for both Tesla and "some" potential customers. Hey, wouldn't Scenario B be spectacular !! While the tax credit laws are the same for all manufacturers - it would be hard to imagine any other company being able to leverage it as much as Tesla has the potential to do - due to its tremendous demand.

john | January 5, 2017

In case anyone forgot, there is no set number limit for how many cars can claim the federal tax credit.
1. Once the manufacturer has sold 200,000 vehicles in the US cumulatively in a quarter (let's call it quarter Q), then
2. All of the cars for the rest of quarter Q also get the full tax credit
3. All of the cars for the QUARTER AFTER THAT (Q+1) get the full tax credit
4. Cars in quarters Q+2 and Q+3 get half credit ($3,750)
5. Cars in quarters Q+4 and Q+5 get quarter credit ($1,875)

So if you think about it, to game the system you would want the 200,000th vehicle to be sold on Day 1 of a quarter. Then there would be six months where EVERY sale to a US customer could claim the credit. So if we assume Tesla was selling 100,000 cars a quarter (just to make the math simple for this example), the total number of people getting the full tax credit would be 400,000 (200,000 + 100,000 + 100,000). Then another 200,000 would get 50% credit, and another 200,000 would get 25% credit.

So you can see that the number of people that get the credit will depend on when the 200,000 point is reached, and the production rate in that and subsequent quarters.

greg | January 5, 2017

One thing for your sceario B.

AFAIK Elon has not said if the "500,000 a year in 2018", is the "annual production rate for that calendar year" i.e. all production over the calendar year 2018, or only a targeted production rate he intends to reach at some point in 2018.
e.g. to make 500K per year he'd have to make about 10K cars (of all models) a week.

So if they reached that 10K cars a week level say in late 2018 (maybe 2nd week of December 2018), then Elon could say "we have achieved [or on target to achieve] being able to make 500,000 cars a year in 2018"
(by simply make at least 10k cars a week for the next 52 weeks during most of 2019.)

I think some folks assume 500,000 in 2018 means Tesla will make 500,000 cars during the entire calendar year.
I think Elon means they'll hit the production rate of being able to build 500,000 cars in a 12 months period, some time in 2018. Big difference in number of car made/delivered.

Regardless of which is the actual rate, my take on Tax Credits, is that anyone who gets any model Tesla car delivered to them in the US in 2018 is unlikely to get a full tax credit.
They may get the 50% or 25% tax credit amount, but not the full 7,500 figure.

And yes, I think Tesla knows that many folks who qualify for a Tax Credit with their M3 will buy more options, thus increasing the M3 average price towards the 42K figure quoted by Elon. Which means Teslas early M3 cars may be more profitable to them due to the extra option those tax credits enable.
So the Tax credits will benefit Tesla's bottom line initially anyway.
As will ZEV credits (even at 50% of the full rate its still not to be sneezed at).

And if Tesla can make the M3 battery able to refill itself within 15 minutes, it can claim 9 ZEV credits, not just the 4 it gets now.

Red Sage ca us | January 5, 2017

john: One point... The phrasing is specific to note the words 'calendar quarter'. So, it is locked in as specific timeframes per calendar year. Thus, if the 200,000th qualifying car is acquired on March 31st of a given year, the Phaseout begins on July 1st. If it is sold on April 1st, the Phaseout begins October 1st.

mntlvr23 | January 5, 2017

@greg - you are correct about "rate" versus "total produced" by the end of the year - my bad. Good catch.

mntlvr23 | January 5, 2017

@ greg - then again, if they can produce 200,000 M3 in the second half of 2017 (per Elon) - then 400,000 in 2018 isn't out of the question.

Octagondd | January 5, 2017

Being a mid-day 3/31 reservation holder in California, I am really hoping to get a base vehicle for NET $25K + tax(on $35k), title, and delivery. This includes the CA rebate and Fed credit which I understand is not immediate in either case. The total cost to me will be about $30k plus financing charges for whatever terms I decide to go with. I don't think I will purchase if I cannot get the Full Fed credit.

One note that makes Q4 2017 interesting is that it would be the closest time period for getting the federal credit back as a tax return the next year. For the fanatics who are in the "base model with Fed credit in order to purchase category," then hitting 200k on 10/1/17 with a huge ramp up of Model ≡ during the quarter would be optimal. If some are produced in Q3 then that might cover all the first day US line waiters plus some online sales.

noleaf4me | January 5, 2017

Inside EVs ( lists the US sales for all EVs by year. If you add them all up, I get 111,949 units through 2016. Your 107k estimate may be a bit low already......looks like the end of 2017 may be the 200k trigger.

greg | January 5, 2017


"then again, if they can produce 200,000 M3 in the second half of 2017 (per Elon) - then 400,000 in 2018 isn't out of the question"

Yes, very possible, but if they do achieve delivery of 200K M3s in 2017 [plus a 80+K mix of MX/MS like they did this year] , you can assume the *full* Tax Credit is gone by start of Q1/18 at the latest, as the bulk of those 200K M3s will be to US customers, unlike the MS/MX deliveries which will be probably split between US/foreign as per your suggested percentage split.

To hit a 200K production number for M3s by end of 2017, they'd have to be at a 400K+ a year rate by end of Q4/17 due to the very likely slow ramp up during all or part of Q3 with M3 production
[assuming production starts ontime during Q3.

If they hit that number, then Tesla US car 200,000 will be delivered at the latest early in Q4/17 [ideal to maximise full credits to end of Q1/18], or worst case - sometime in Q3, [meaning full credit phased out by end of 2017].

Of course if they have real production issues with M3, and MX/MS demand/deliveries keep building like it did between 2015 and 2016, and US/foreign split stays similar, then Tesla may hit US car 200,000 in late 2017 with just MS/MX deliveries. Leaving M3 owners mostly in the cold if they're wanting full credits.

mntlvr23 | January 5, 2017

@noleaf4me - thanks for the link, some good information there.

Part of the difference may be that Tesla missed out on around 3,000 deliveries (sold but not yet delivered) that will close the gap between the two numbers a bit.

I am with you and think that it will be Q4-2017 with a very strong ramp up.

bmwgs | January 5, 2017

Since this thread is pure conjecture............
@bmwgs - ok, I will accept replacing my vague "a lot" with your more vague "some" . We cool !
I will quantify my "some" comment. In this case,less than 10%. Folks may have to wait over a year for their credit,so the effect of the credit is minimized when it comes to ponying up to take delivery.

bmwgs | January 5, 2017

I'm would like $1875 in Q1 2019. It in no way effects my purchase. It will just be an unexpected bonus if it happens. With that $1875,I can go to Maico and get it painted orange,which is my 1st choice.

Red Sage ca us | January 6, 2017

greg: Not to jump on you, because I repeat this rather often these days... Regarding the Phaseout... It begins at the start of the 'second calendar quarter after' the 200,000th qualifying vehicle is 'acquired'. The vehicle is considered 'acquired' at the transfer of title to the taxpayer. In particular, keep track of the phrase 'calendar quarter', because that is important. So, rather than sliding on a month-by-month basis, the quarters are based on their calendar order.

Thus, you have:


So if the 200,000th vehicle is sold on any day in January, February, or March, the Phaseout begins on July 1st of that year. If the 200,000th vehicle sale were held back in the closing days of March... So that it was actually Delivered in the first days of April... Then the Phaseout would be pushed to October 1st instead.

mntlvr23 | January 6, 2017

@bmwgs - re: "I will quantify my "some" comment. In this case, less than 10%."

As 10% of 400,000 is 40,000 people, and since I consider 40,000 to be "a lot" of people - I conjecture that we are on the same page - except for on the "orange" part, which just might be my last choice.

I would spend the $1875 travelling south to Ma-i-co, and not Maico.

KP in NPT | January 6, 2017

I think it's going to boil down to "can I afford the monthly payment" the most. Not for literally every person with a reservation - but most. Like bmwgs said, you don't realize the tax credit until tax time - Do people take the taxes they didn't pay and apply it to their car loan?

dsvick | January 6, 2017

@KP - "Like bmwgs said, you don't realize the tax credit until tax time - Do people take the taxes they didn't pay and apply it to their car loan?"

I'll still bet there are a lot of people out there though that will calling Tesla customer service to ask them why the $7,500 wasn't deducted from their price. As for what to do with the credit, when we get it we'll use it pay off some other, higher interest rate, debt. Maybe take some of it and get my 3 wrapped ...

alexanmh | January 6, 2017

All good information. I would add that, as we know, the line for the reservation will be reordered, with current Tesla owners, and California folks moving to the front. Initial builds, even if they happen in the last quarter of 2017, will likely be a low number, at least enough so Tesla can say they are starting delivery, as promised, in 2017. But for everybody else, it seems real likely that there will be no tax credit left for the M3. Not trying to be negative here, but just looking at the likely numbers and the calendar.

dsvick | January 6, 2017

"Initial builds, even if they happen in the last quarter of 2017, will likely be a low number .... But for everybody else, it seems real likely that there will be no tax credit left for the M3"

Why would you say that? First, if they produce lower numbers of M3 in 2017, then the date they hit the 200,000 mark would be later. Sure, in that time they may produce another 30,000 MS/MX that would take away potential credits from M3 owners, but that's a drop in the bucket. Second, the tax credit phases out over about a year and half. Even if Tesla only hits half of their production goal that's still in the neighborhood of a couple hundred thousand people that could get at least a partial credit.

Also, the way they prioritize the line isn't relevant at all since those people would still get a M3 and still be able to get the tax credit.

Haggy | January 6, 2017

I'm sure that Trump took the tax credit himself on his Roadster "because he's smart." Elon is working with him, Tesla is one of the few American cars he owns, and he favors tax breaks for the rich. There are many sources that say he has a Roadster, and his campaign confirmed he has a Tesla but they didn't say which one.

bmwgs | January 6, 2017

It's Meh-He-Co. Get it right!
It's a wonderful country that I have lived in for 3 years since I retired.But I've been back in the States now 5+ years.
Orange is the new black/white/silver. So mine will be blue,red or black if some shade of orange isn't offered.
So many cars in SW Florida are white or silver-makes me sick. Last week,I saw 5 white ones in a row at a traffic light. UGH.

EVMan | January 7, 2017

I agree it is fun to discuss possible scenarios. We are all chomping at the bit to get our delivery. Thanks to all who took the time to crunch the numbers.

If I remember correctly when Elon was asked about the credits he indicated that if the number was getting close at the end of a quarter they would rearrange deliveries to postpone it to the beginning of the next quarter so the maximum number of people could take advantage of the full rebate.

One curiosity I have is how sure you are going to be about what level of rebate you will receive at the time you have to configure your M3. If I remember correctly, once configured you only have a very short time frame where you can modify the configuration. One week comes to mind, but not sure.

alexanmh | January 9, 2017

dsvick - I said that because while initial M3 numbers in 2017 would be low, production of the S and X would continue to rise, thus, chomping away at the 200K and 300K delivery numbers. I believe you are incorrect on the S and X production numbers. I recall seeing a 2016 final production of approx. 76K so I don't understand what your 2017 production of 30K S and X is based on. Finally, while you are correct that the Tesla prioritization doesn't affect those who "get" the priority (i.e., current Tesla owners and the west coast), my statement was that everybody else, by the fact of them being pushed back in the line, creates a situation where they (i.e. the non-priority folks) are less likely to get the tax credit by the time their number comes up.

dsvick | January 9, 2017

@alexnmh - The 30K I mentioned was an estimate on the additional MS/MX that they'd produce in the later part of 2017, if they weren't building M3's, not for the entire year.
I'm not sure what your point is on the priority thing, yes, the people that get priority will have a greater chance of getting the tax credit. As I said though, it phases out over a year and half or so, if Tesla can reach their estimated production goals there would still be several hundred thousand people that get a tax credit. Not everyone was going to get it anyway and that is, and always will be, the case.

alexanmh | January 9, 2017

dsvick - The point on the "priority thing" is that, let's say you ordered and were 150,000 on the initial list of orders. After the "reshuffle," with current Tesla owners and the west coast going to the front, you may now be 190,000 on the list. Now, if the tax credit was "per model," then you'd be fine because you were still going to get your M3 before 200,000 were sold/delivered. However, the sold/delivery number includes qualifying vehicles for the manufacturer, not per model. So, the question ends up being at what time does your number come up, all the while, as note by the analysis earlier in this post, S and X models are being sold. While there are a lot of variables, the S and X delivery rates have been pretty stable, with an upward trend. That being the case, it is probably unlikely that "several hundred thousand people" buying M3s will get the full tax credit, or even the reduced tax credits. Really not trying to be negative here but for those non-priority buyers, myself included, it's just something that we will have to come to grips with.

Octagondd | January 9, 2017

@alexnmh - What quarter do you think Tesla will hit 200k and what quarter do you think Tesla will start volume production of Model ≡?

dsvick | January 9, 2017

@alexnmh - I understand and agree with what you're saying, I don't see how it is pertinent to the discussion on when the tax credit will expire. It'll expire at some point in the future and some number of people that didn't get their vehicles will not get it. It's always been that way, priority of delivery has nothing to do with it except to have an effect on which people get it.

When do you think they'll hit the 200,000? They would need to be pretty far behind on their estimated production ramp up to not have at least 200,000 people get a tax credit. Even if they hit it in Q1 of 2018 and only produce half of what they hope to produce, that'd be 200,000 in 2018 plus what ever they can build in the first half of 2019. The only way you get a significant number of Model 3 buyers not getting any credit is if they don't start producing them until a quarter or two after the 200,000 mark.

Haggy | January 9, 2017

"We are all chomping at the bit to get our delivery. "

Don't do that. You will ruin your teeth.

bmwgs | January 9, 2017

My guess,like everyone else's, is pure conjecture,is Q2 2019.I think all rebates will be gone by June 30 and those of course will be $1875,which is still better than a kick in the shorts. Which you can use to pay for the AP upgrade down the road.

SamO | January 9, 2017

Champing at the bit. Not chomping.

mntlvr23 | January 9, 2017

So based on the numbers in the OP - my best estimate (with a reasonable production start and ramp up) is:
Timeline triggered in Q4 - 2017
$7,500 Federal Tax Credit from current through 03/31/18 - hopefully covering all ~ 70K, pre-reveal, US reservers
$3,750 Federal Tax Credit 04/01/18 through 09/31/18
$1,875 Federal Tax Credit 10/01/18 through 03/31/19
No Federal Tax Credit after 03/31/19