As Tesla Model 3 Reservation Holders Wait (and Wait and Wait), GM Says It’ll Play Nice

2018 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

The number of people willing to plunk down a $1,000 deposit for a Tesla Model 3 currently stands at about 455,000. In the third quarter of 2017, Tesla delivered 220 units of its smallest and most affordable electric car. Last quarter, some 1,550 buyers took ownership.

If it looks like it’s shaping up to be a long wait for the newest reservation holders, you’re right. Tesla claims it has succeeded in working out some of the issues hampering production at its Fremont, California assembly plant, but the pushed-back ramp-up of Model 3 production means some reservation holders won’t see their new car this decade. Meanwhile, you can not only walk into a General Motors dealer and order a Chevrolet Bolt today, but you can expect delivery well before the 2020 election campaign gets into full swing.

Is GM planning to exploit its competitor’s production woes? Not us, the automaker claims.

Speaking to Automotive News, Steve Majoros, marketing director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers, said a targeted campaign is “not in the cards.”

If it did, it wouldn’t be first time an automaker tried to lure Model 3 groupies away from the band. In early 2016, Nissan launched an ad aimed at those waiting for Tesla’s upcoming wundersedan. “Why wait when you can drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf today?” the cheeky company stated, hammering the point home by saying, “No one should have any reservations about getting an electric car today.”

Nissan also tossed incentives at would-be buyers in the hopes of picking up some fence sitters. of course, brand loyalty plays a big part in electric vehicle purchasing, and there’s no group of people more willing to wait for a car than Tesla devotees. Should any of these reservation holders grow tired of sitting by the phone, Nissan’s second-generation Leaf is currently waiting at the door, flowers in hand. It’s part of a growing segment that includes the Bolt and Hyundai Ioniq.

One of the reasons for GM’s attitude could be the Bolt’s strong sales numbers. Since availability reached all 50 states last summer, GM has seen Bolt sales rise each consecutive month. No need to rock the EV boat, perhaps. December saw the model top the 3,000-unit mark in the U.S. (3,227, to be exact), with volume for the whole year standing at 23,297 vehicles.

Both Bolt and Model 3 share a similar entry price, with the GM vehicle edging out the base Model 3 in terms of range. Pricier, 300-mile Long Range variants were first off the Tesla assembly line.

In a statement, Tesla claims it is “very appreciative” of the customers who “continue to stick by” the company. GM says a study group held last year showed early Bolt buyers remained fairly interested in the Model 3, though Majoros told AN that Chevy has seen an unspecified number of Tesla buyers show up looking for an EV. It’s quite possible that, in some cases, the Bolt is the model holding over the buyer until the Model 3 wait window closes.

In its quarterly update, Tesla said it expects to produce 3,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the second quarter of 2018. When production kicked off, the company hoped to hit that mark by the end of 2017.

[Image: General Motors]