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How Long is Too Long to Wait?

Discussion in 'Model S: Ordering, Production, Delivery' started by Cattledog, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    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.

    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.
     
  2. VolkerP

    VolkerP EU Model S P-37

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    While I agree mostly, Tesla aims to reach 25% gross margin this year. I don't know if that number is for Model S business only. But an investments to expand the Model S production line will hurt that number.
    They might be at or slightly above 400 cars/week produced, but that was the objective for single shift operation. Doing it with 2 shifts means double cost for wages.

    In order to improve the situation as described above, it would be prudent for Tesla to bring production with 2 shifts to 800 cars/week.

    WRT to your friend: Remember, money buys you everything but patience :biggrin:
     
  3. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    Do you see ModelSs piling up anywhere? The only Teslas piling up might be the trade-in Roadsters, but that should inevitably level off as these collector's items find new homes. So he grabs a Volt or a Rav4 EV, if any of those remain. No big deal, still in the family. The Caddy-Volt will require some waiting though.
    --
     
  4. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    wycolo makes a good point.

    If Tesla loses a sale to another EV, that's somewhat a non-issue relative to the master plan.
    If Tesla loses a sale to an ICE, that's another matter though.
     
  5. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    My feeling is people are buying the Model S as much or more for the driving experience as the environmental statement. So I think most go to another $75K+ ICE for a few years until there are viable alternatives in the EV world. I appreciate what Nissan is doing with the Leaf, but I think that overlap is small.
     
  6. DrDave

    DrDave Member

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    It's not only the wages, but the energy costs of running two shifts. All the many robots in BIW take power, the large ovens in the paint shop now have to burn gas twice as long, etc.
    I am sure they are trying as hard as they can to improve the process and become capable of 400/40 hr week.
     
  7. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The Prius had six to nine month backlogs for years (2001-2007) and that didn't seem to hurt sales or adoption any (In 2012 the Prius was the third largest selling car model behind Corolla and Focus). I waited nine months for both of mine. Yes, there will be some folks who will drop out for one reason or another, but I don't think that's a majority of the potential sales.
     
  8. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    I believe there is a related issue. I think my wife will love the S so I put in a second reservation. This was based on the December email and subsequent 15th-31st delivery date which my car did not make. I've now received the Finalize button for the second reservation and am facing an issue which I think will be common amongst "normal" (read non-Telsa) people.

    I need to put my wife in the car to run her daily routine. When the electric car conversation comes up it is almost exclusively focused on range, more specifically, range anxiety. Unless you are up on EVs or very mechanically inclined, the whole electric vehicle experience is hard if not impossible to grasp. Most people's thoughts go to the perceived negatives as they have little exposure to the positive aspects of the cars.

    I know if she has the car for a few days and simply has to plug it in at the end of each day she will be forever converted. We make a lot of compromises to accommodate ICE. For most, this is the only experience they have ever had. I try to explain that moving from ICE to EV is like moving from standard to an automatic transmission for the first time only an order of magnitude more. You really can not understand what you have had to put up with until you experience not having to deal with it.

    My wife will be amazed at the pure simplicity of an (almost) single pedal driving experience. The ability to intuitively adjust speed in delicate increments by effortless throttle management will resonate with her. She will quickly adapt and forget about it up until I take the S back and she goes back to her 535 wagon. Do not get me wrong; the wagon is a nice car but it is a tremendous compromise when compared to the S.

    Circling back to where I started, I think the other issue Tesla will face is simply exposing the vast ICE consumer base to the EV concept. I'm committed to the effort and have a reasonable amount of influence on my target "customer" and yet, without receiving the first car, I'll likely have to cancel the second. Early adopters will go a long way to proselytize the Tesla experience but sub 10K cars in a country the size of the US will simply not reach the number of people Tesla needs to reach. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact the limited number of stores and the short test drive experience will have. You can bet Tesla has put a lot of thought into this and struck a balance they are comfortable with. I just wish there were additional ways to expose more people to the concept and the S.
     
  9. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    Tesla has said repeatedly that's the plan, about 3 months from deposit to ownership.

    If Tesla ends up blessed to have such demand that the wait list grows, that's great for them. As long as they're selling everything they can produce, losing impatient customers has no impact.
     
  10. Tempus

    Tempus Member

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    to the original question - i think that 3 months is probably the "sweet spot" for tesla. That's enough backlog to ensure that they've got a good customer pipeline, while at the same time it's not too terribly long a wait for the customers. And i think (as ckessel mentioned above) that 3 months is about what Tesla is shooting for once they work through the original backlog.

    I do think it's important for them to get the wait times down, but certainly not being able to build cars as fast as people want them is a good problem for Tesla to have!
     
  11. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Three months is where Tesla was at with the Roadster when I bought. Seems like a reasonable target, and they have experience to tell them how that works out.
     
  12. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    lola - Your point is valid. I'll probably make a post today that addresses this with more detail, but last night we had a 'delivery party' at my house for the Model S. Our own little 'get amped' event. There were 25-30 people there, every one got to ride, probably 10 drove. I lost count of the superlatives. Though we know Tesla doesn't have a demand problem, I think if there was a way to encourage (probably not promote, I'm sure legal issues) these house parties, they'd have an avenue to exposure. It's not just the 25 people - given everyone's 'blownawayedness', they'll be babbling about it today at church and Monday at work and the number who will have been exposed will be 10 times that. Guaranteed.

    Still need deliveries down around 3 months after orders - I recall that being the time frame when I decided to order my BMW to my specs vs. taking one off the lot (12 years ago).
     
  13. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    +1

    The 12 week wait for my Roadster in 2010 was "exquisite agony" ...I think most post VIN # 500 owners would agree.
    TMC's stated optimum "lag time" of 90 days matches the Roadster's...I think this minimal wait will actually help TMC's brand in the long run..."good things are worth waiting for" ( and these good things stand out even more in the age of instant gratification that we now live in...)

     
  14. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Surely there is a Model S owner in your area that would let her experience the car? I'd be happy to talk to her on the phone about her worries - I've had three other forum members pm me privately and ask me to talk to their wives about my experiences driving electric, since they weren't sure. (And I have. Two now have their Model S, the third is expecting delivery shortly.)
     
  15. lolachampcar

    lolachampcar Active Member

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    cattledog,
    I plan on doing the exact same thing. Most of my friends and acquaintances are nerds are terribly susceptible to Tesla fever.




    With respect to the other comments-
    I look at the sales process as three phases and, judging by Bonnie's comments, may not have sufficiently explained the second.

    The first phase is the initial experience. If you drive the car, you will love the car (ok, 98% of the time which is a good hit rate).
    The second phase is coming to grips with your personal understanding of EVs and making the buy decision.
    The third phase is the wait. I've not concerned my comments with the wait issue as this is completely within Tesla's control and they will strike the balance they need to (capital/inventory versus lead).

    The second phase is my concern. I am living it now with my wife. For early adopters, this is not an issue. You most likely already have experience with EVs or you are technically inclined and can reason your way through the concerns. The rest of the world simply knows that EVs have limited range and it is easier to buy ICE then worry about range. Having driven a Zero for ten months now, I know range is mostly an emotional and not a physical issue. You can tell people this till you are blue in the face but they will not get it until they experience it. I did not get it with my Zero until I lived the Zero. Now I do not even look at the "gas" gauge! I know it will do what I need it to do and thus I never think about it. That is ironic given I had to look at my ICE's gauge least I run out of gas. My initial over riding concern about the EV bike became a plus. Try to talk someone into that.

    In the process of understanding range, the target customer will be thoroughly converted to the Tesla EV approach. I say Tesla because the MS is different; we all know this. EVs to this point have been lacking but not the MS. The target customer will get a sense of this during the test drive but a few days behind the wheel will fix them forever. I would love to have "MS as their first EV" owners chime in here and speak to how their feelings changed over the first few days of ownership. I've seen more than one post describe going back to an ICE for one reason or another and realizing just how much of a compromise ICE is. You just can not get this from a ten minute test drive. ICE sales do not have this added layer; you know what they are and a short test drive does the trick. For me, it is this experience that is the defining competitive advantage in the MS sales cycle. Without it, a good number of normal drivers will pass on the MS even after the test drive. I think my wife's comment was something like "that was a very nice car but I'm not sure I want to deal with the charging and distance thing". Two days in the car and I'm going to have to fight to get it back.

    I wish there was a magic bullet for injecting the general population with the Tesla bug. I guess the experience it to get thing will just have to soak in over time. Like you cattledog, I'll do my best to help!

    Bill
     
  16. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I really need to work on my skimming skills. For some reason I saw this in Bonnie's post.

    It left a very different impression than reading the post properly.
     
  17. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Hahah. Good one!
     
  18. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. Environmental concerns aren't even on my list.
     
  19. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Member

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    Wrong. A lost customer went somewhere else, and you might never get them back.

    When demand exceeds supply, it's easy to say well who needs them. When demand levels off you're stuck wondering, hey where'd everyone go?

    The business world is littered with the carcasses of companies who thought they were indispensable to their customers. Just a fair warning.
     
  20. Cattledog

    Cattledog Active Member

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    mattjs33 - Agree. We only point these things out because we want Tesla to succeed in the worst way. I am almost positive they are hearing this, but who knows? I gave my list of suggested improvements to my DS, then what? Perhaps he copied them assiduosly and sent them up the chain of command, perhaps he was playing Donkey Kong online and writing 'whiner' on a post-it note to his cubicle neighbor. So we share here in hopes Tesla heeds warnings from people who have spent $80K-$120K with them.
     

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