How Long is Too Long to Wait?

How Long is Too Long to Wait?

Going forward, I think Tesla has a short-mid-term problem, or a long-term one if they can't fix it. Early pioneers were willing to wait years to get their Model S, and some had roadsters to tide over the EV fix. However we are moving from pioneers to settlers and I don't think that latter group will have near the patience of the former. Here's a real-world example:

My friend, who reserved a day after we had dsm's party in September, got his 'Finalize' (or whatever, I don't remember what it's called) e-mail a few weeks ago, so his window was running down before the price increase. Believe me, the $2,500 was a non-issue for him. What had become an issue was the detachment. He reserved in September and had no contact until his 'Finalize' e-mail came in late December. He was about to cancel when I got my car and went to his house and let him drive it. That got him re-energized. He now has 'Finalized', but would have cancelled if not for the fortuitous timing of my delivery.

I don't think this is an isolated problem for Tesla. All of us forum junkies have this to keep pumped and connected, but we are what - 25% of reservation holders? Certainly not much more? All those others drop cash and then get lonely. I think they are losing reservations because of it. We're in a click and ship world. So what's the fix?

I think more cars on the road will help, that Model S won't be 'out of sight-out of mind' as much. Vicarious fix.

I think more showrooms/galleries where you can get your Tesla fix are critical. They now have the dual purpose of attracting new potential buyers, but almost as importantly, keeping existing reservation holders. Test drive/cool gear fix.

They have to rethink production - With global deliveries in 2013, I wouldn't be surprised if they need to smash through 20,000/yr. Double it. Seriously. Worldwide orders are exceeding 400/week right now. They need to exceed it just to catch up. Real fix.

I think they need to have a process where they are connecting monthly to reservation holders. Each contact needs to meaningful and different, headed toward the end game. Which needs to be...

I think they need to manage the process down to 3-4 months from hitting 'Reserve' to hitting the accelerator.

GeirT | 19 januari 2013

Hear, hear!

Brian H | 19 januari 2013

Yes, the "customer handling" staff needs to grow as fast as the reservations do. But they must be resourceful, friendly, and know the product and system inside-out. It's taking time to double and redouble and redouble and redouble that staff. And then double it again. If more shifts crank up, they'll have to add another redoubling. (All compared to staff last fall.)

I suspect TM is already using 3 shifts, if not yet at full bore. More stores and more marketing are probably in the cards throughout the year. Juggling all the balls in the air is still going to be a challenge!

drp | 19 januari 2013

Where do u live?

Brian H | 19 januari 2013

Vancouver, Canada.

Whity Whiteman | 19 januari 2013

...on the other hand, Tesla is a symphatic startup, who fights against the big guys and has execute very well- so far. Everyone knows that and: shortage of the MS maybe increases the interest ... doesn't it?

Sudre_ | 19 januari 2013

I agree that something needs to change. I know the average American (including myself) is used to walking into a dealership and driving off with a car. I accepted I would have a wait when I reserved my car a year ago+ but from here on out people are going to expect a click and ship which won't be possible. They need to E-mail out weekly or at least monthly updates of some kind to reservation holders. I know it might be rough with the company being public but telling your customer that you shipped VIN 14382 or reservation number 13547 would at least let them know where they stand as reservation holder 23942.

Leofingal | 19 januari 2013

The other aspect of their short term problem is what seems to happen to almost everyone as they approach their delivery window. No contact made. My delivery window starts in 4 days, and I have not even been contacted by a single person or automated response since the day I finalized my delivery options. I would think that someone should have contacted me about financing and trade in. I also need my VIN to evaluate outside financing (PenFed).

Anyhow, a few things should at least be automatic as the delivery window approaches, and this is a database programming issue, not necessarily a human power requirement. I am concerned that part of my lack of contact is caused by ordering my car entirely on-line. I don't have a human contact that I can call to "nag", which I have been very reluctant to do. I think they absolutely need to fix this process so that they are the proactive part of the relationship, not their paying customer.

I do think they will lose reservation holders with the current process, even as the cycle time from reserve to order to ship cuts from years to months.

I wonder if I would have followed through with my order if I didn't follow these forums so much? I'd me much more frustrated if I hadn't seen this happen to so many others over the past few months.

djp | 19 januari 2013

Leofingal - agree. I have yet to call them, and the lack of automated or personal feedback is disturbing. Second time around for me - ordered a LEAF sight unseen, and waited for almost a year. America (especially the young ones) will easily adopt to on-line buying of cars; especially those who have never bought from a dealer. I prefer it this way.

Cattledog | 20 januari 2013

Leo and djp - Agree! Automate! They do it building the car, how about the communications process. It would seem easy to tag certain markers which are computer controlled to trigger e-mail messages. For example (and sort of working backwards):

* Your Model S has reached the (city) service center for final prep before delivery/pick up

* Your Models S has completed production at the factory

* Your Model S has started production at the factory

* We estimate your Model S will start production at the factory in 30 days.

* Thank you for finalizing your order, we estimate your Model S will start production at the factory in (120) days and be delivered to you in (150) days.

All of these would come with "please contact your delivery specialist (Elon) at 1 800 WHRSMYS" if you have questions. And disclaimers that estimates are estimates etc.

But that would remove anxiety and doubt and instill confidence and certainty.

Superliner | 20 januari 2013

@ Cattledog & Leofingal

100% On Point! It would seem in the haste to get Model S out the door, Tesla might have the cart in front of the horse. Hopefully this is a short term problem. That said with Model X reservations rolling in without a single example nearing the end of the assembly line presently, and the current Model S backlog, it is conceivable they could be several years from finding the handle on this issue.

They may become their own worst enemy slowly poisoning the potential customer base as more examples come into the wild and the friends and associates of the recipients of these vehicles remain on the sidelines in light of seeing first hand what those who eventually get vehicles must go through and simply can't or don't want to wait. Clearly the supply side and communication issues MUST be fixed!

Cattledog | 20 januari 2013

I'd like to think Model X will be OK because initial demand will not exceed where Model S was, but I think that will not prove true. Model S was around 10,000 reservations when the cars started rolling off around August (discounting the 10 hand deliveries in June). I now think Model X reservations will exceed that by middle of 2014.

Now, when Gen3 comes along, and they drop the deposit (assumption) to a couple thousand dollars, and then knock these things out in the 30K+ range (I think a decent version will be mid-high 40s), they are going to need to be able to produce and deliver 50K a year, easy. The current logistics will be nothing...

They nailed many things but we are seeing one they clearly underestimated. Hope a strategy is in the offing.

Brian H | 20 januari 2013

It seems to be mainly a matter of co-ordinating computer systems, and adequate Delivery Staff levels. We should hear about both in the Y/E letter.