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When was the first spec car? VIN?

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by S-2000 Roadster, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. S-2000 Roadster

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    #1 S-2000 Roadster, Sep 3, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
    When was the first "on spec" car? VIN?

    When was the first spec car made? i.e. Which VIN was the first orphaned roadster to be 'born' without an owner?
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I think you asked that somewhere else...

    So, even among the original Signature 100 depositors there were some that backed out, I think.
    For instance, one of the original moderators of this forum, Tony Belding, had one on order, then changed his mind.
    To me, there is a difference between a "spec car" and an "orphan". The "spec car" is custom ordered as you want it, and "orphan" is one that was pre-ordered (in some cases with no special options), but then the person that ordered it backed out. Unless there is a willing alternate buyer lined up, a "spec car" turned into an "orphan" might involve giving up some deposit money. Anyways, I don't know the answer to your question, but can you ask more specifically what you hope to find out?

    I bet if someone ordered a car in a common color, with common options, then wanted to back out, the salespeople would have been more willing to just "let it go to someone else" without extra fees. But if you ordered some odd, uncommon combination it might be harder. How many yellow with microfiber seats are out there?
     
  3. S-2000 Roadster

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    TEG, I'm talking about the expression "on spec" - defined as "in the hope of success but without any specific commission or instructions : he built the factory on spec and hoped someone would buy it."

    I realize that it's somewhat confusing for me to say "spec" without qualifying whether I meant "on spec" or "to specs"
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #4 TEG, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
    OK, you are NOT talking about something someone might call "bespoke" (e.g., "custom ordered"), but rather just cars the factory "cranked out" with no particular buyer in mind. Over at mynissanleaf.com they talk of "orphans" as cars that were ordered by specific customers, then abandoned before delivery.
    (Those have been a "hot item" as it was a way to skip the wait list lines.)

    So, I don't know the exact history, but my recollection is something like this:

    The pent-up demand, and backlog was so great that the 2008s (vins up to 500) were basically all pre-ordered by specific customers.
    Once and a while someone would back out and their car (if already in production) would quietly be re-directed to somewhere else.
    (Perhaps some sort of shadow waitlist, or some other non-public way to handle that while trying not to upset people that were still waiting.)

    Somewhere during MY2010 production, the backlog started to get filled such that things "equalized" so that cars being produced at the factory were basically custom ordered by someone recently just as the factory was getting another chassis ready. That was probably a good time for the salespeople where a customer could walk into the showroom and say "I want a Roadster with this option and that option", and they could say "we will ask the factory to start building it for you right away", and then the car would be delivered within a couple of months.

    But the factory wasn't going to stop if the 'custom' orders weren't coming as Tesla had some contract to have them build some # of cars.
    I think there may have been a period where they had them build chassis without fitting the optional accessories, and have them wait for orders, but there was probably a limit to how many they could pile up like that waiting for orders.

    Then to your point, I think, the idea that the factory would build cars with some common options, not as part of any specific order, and just send them to the USA ready for someone to buy is a more recent phenomenon. Finding a "standard build car" effectively with a "buy me now" label probably started happening within the past year or so. Mostly with the last of the 2011 models. Overall I think the timing was pretty good in terms of demand slowing down around the same time as the factory was going to stop making them.

    So, as for a "spec car" VIN, very ballpark, maybe around 1150?

    Oh, another thing to consider... They were building more and more stores, so at some point they probably started to think about building "showroom models" so that the various stores had something to show off even if there were still some customer ordered "in the pipeline."


    I am sure there a lots of people that know the details way better than I, so sorry if you only ended up with a vague response here.
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    By the way, the idea of "custom ordered" seemed to changed over the production history.
    We had more custom colors, custom stripes, etc, with the early production.
    I think as things "matured" they tried to stick to a more standard set of options.

    These days, if we see a car in a non-standard color scheme it is probably a vinyl wrap, not a custom paint job.
     
  6. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    While TEG was off on his interpretation of "spec car," I agree that orphans and spec cars are two different things.

    There were certainly a few orphans (customer backed out on a finished or nearly finished car) from early on. It was a bit of a touchy subject since there was a large backlog of people still waiting for their cars (which was spun as being "sold out"). Early reservation holders had been waiting for years and new orders still had quite a long wait. It was said you couldn't just go in and buy a car off the showroom floor, yet on occasion you could do just that. Somewhere I have a photo of the first orphaned car at the Menlo Park store. Supposedly it was more common (though still rare) to have them at the LA store where you were more likely to have someone impulse buy such a car. (LA and Menlo Park were the only stores at the time.) Btw, "orphan" is just a term we're using for the purpose of this thread. Not sure what Tesla calls/called these cars.

    Like TEG said, spec cars started being made once production out paced new orders. By then Tesla could tell that e.g. Radiant Red was a popular color and it was a good idea to have more of those in the pipeline. I remember having a conversation with someone from Tesla about the time they started doing that. Not sure exactly when, but I would have guessed much earlier than 1200.
     
  7. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    I have VIN 1194. At the time I ordered, I was given the option of several spec cars immediately available or wait a few months for a custom order. I ordered in mid-Nov 2010, took delivery early February.

    So some spec cars were made prior to my car. I don't know how many were available.

    In conversations with folks in the last few days, I believe there are approx 50 spec cars left for the US market. Tesla is planning on keeping 25 or so, for various reasons. (I assume for showrooms, company history, etc.)
     
  8. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I remember a guy paying for an early delivery. He would have been several months away and at least coupl'a hundred on VIN numbers later. He paid a huge sum in order to get something in the 70's. Tesla let him buy his way in. I don't know by how much but for some reason I thought is was 30 to 40k.
     
  9. S-2000 Roadster

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    #9 S-2000 Roadster, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
    I got on the waiting list at the very beginning of 2008 and ended up waiting 17 months for my 2.0 production slot to begin. I can confirm TEG's comments that there were more options available in those days. One particular option to look for is colored leather in the headrest;
    Tesla-interior.jpg
    I've seen older Roadsters in the field with that option, and it reminds me of the results I got while playing with the web site. I had my options selected for over a year, but not locked in, and when my production slot came available I received an email detailing that some of the other options had disappeared.
    Testa-interior-base.jpg
    I was just happy that they had not removed the options that I really wanted. It's fairly normal for car makers to reduce the number of available options because it speeds up the production line. On the other hand, they added two body colors over time, one in 2009 and then Lightning Green was the last color added.
    Tesla-exterior-color.jpg


    Regarding vfx's comments about owners buying their way in to the front of the line, this was official Tesla Motors policy starting in the 3rd quarter of 2008. When I entered the waiting list in the first week of 2008, all 2008 models had already been "sold" out. I was waiting for a 2009 model (although we now know that there never was a 2009 model, just 2008 and 2010). Around September, Tesla Motors announced that $16K extra would allow someone to cut in line and get a 2008. Basically, 8 months after being told that no 2008 models were available, I learned that other people could buy their way in front of me in line to get a 2008. Considering that the "2009" model was $10K more than the 2008, I think the effective buy-in was $26K total. As you might guess, I complained seriously about this to Tesla Motors. Their response was that 2008 models had become available due to attrition, so they moved up all of the remaining 2008 owners to earlier production slots, offered 2008 models to 2009 "owners" who had expressed an interest previously, and then offered the few remaining 2008 production slots to the public at a higher price. Tesla Motors basically said that they realized that 2008 models were "worth more" than 2009 models because of the "first year model" status of a new make for collectors and such.

    In the end, it didn't really matter so much, because I had to give up my production slot thanks to the stock market and general economy at the time. Strangely enough, I fell victim to another timing issue. When I purchased #1244, all "custom order" Roadster slots had been "sold out." So I selected an "on spec" Roadster 2.5 that magically matched my options (except for the crappy Infotainment system). After I took delivery, though, Tesla Motors announced that there were suddenly 100 more "custom order" slots available again. I don't know whether to be happy that I got my Roadster without waiting, or upset that Tesla Motors once again changed the rules after I gave them my money. I suppose I should just choose the happier thought.


    As for the "on spec" cars, I was told by a Tesla Motors employee that Roadster sales died down in the winter because nobody wanted to think about a soft top convertible when it was cold outside. This strongly implies that they had more than one year of "on spec" cars, or long enough to notice a seasonal pattern. Then again, I suppose they do not have to completely lose demand and get behind production just to notice a trend.
     
  10. S-2000 Roadster

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    I agree that we need some terms to distinguish the different situations.

    I suppose it makes sense to think of an "orphan" as a Roadster that had an owner with custom options, and started production that way, but then was not purchased for some reason or another. However, I also assume that whenever there is a waiting list, Tesla Motors should be able to fill that slot with another eager owner, provided their custom order can still be fulfilled. I assume that one of the few irreversible options would be the exterior paint, since seats and interior panels are regularly swapped out these days. One of the few difficult (impossible?) changes is between the double-DIN and single-DIN radio systems. It's potentially possible to swap, but that would be highly labor intensive. So, perhaps an unpopular body color slot might sit waiting for a while before another owner wanting the same exterior color could be moved into place. I get the impression that early on in the Roadster line there were always hundreds of owners waiting, and thus it would not seem too difficult to shift 100% of orphaned Roadsters to someone else on the waiting list. Compared to my experience, with 17 months of waiting for a mere 3 months of production, it seems rather unlikely that someone would cancel in that relatively short span of 3 months and more likely that they would cancel at some other time before production actually started. Then again, production does not start until Tesla Motors had the full funds in hand, so I wonder how many people asked for that money back after production started. It's entirely different from canceling the waiting list slot before production.

    In contrast, an "on spec" car would be one which entered the Lotus production line at a time where there was absolutely nobody waiting, and thus the car would have to be built without any custom order at all. I suppose that it really only became a critical decision when the painting was scheduled to be done, since that can't really be changed without losing money. I'm sure Tesla Motors had extensive computer database records of popular trends. They even had my specific options in their database, even though my first Roadster was never produced. I assume they could look, not only at what had been purchased, but also at what sort of options had been selected by folks who had to drop out.

    So, to reiterate my question more clearly: Does anyone know the VIN number or date when the waiting list dropped to zero and Tesla Motors (temporarily) ran out of people willing to buy? That would be the point at which the production line had to build a car with options selected by Tesla Motors and not a specific customer. (I'm less interested in cars that were built on custom order but whose owner couldn't afford to keep them)
     
  11. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I have VIN 919, ordered March 2010. Spec cars were never mentioned as a possibility. I had to plonk down the full price up front to get my "custom order" built.
     
  12. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Back when everything was "pre-sold" and a wait-list in progress, occasionally there would be something for sale in the showroom that wasn't an orphan.
    As an example, occasionally Tesla freshened their demo cars with newer models, and sold off the older ones.
    So, some of the old tales of "I saw one in the showroom for immediate delivery even though there was a wait-list" were "special semi-used cars" cars, not "orphans."
    I think there was a big batch of this when 2.5 came out. At the time I don't think Tesla wanted to be showing off the 2.0 look anymore, so a bunch of older demo cars apparently got sold off in a hurry. Apparently some people got some good deals at that time if they don't mind having a car that was pushed hard by a lot of people before them.
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Also there was a story of a particular salesperson who posted on an public Internet forum that they could get some cars without waiting, which caused a fuss, and I think they left the company soon afterwards.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    I am not sure you will be able to get an exact VIN like that. I think it may have been a little more "squishy", where they started swapping orders around, re-working pre-orders, and eventually building the "spec cars" piecemeal before it became more of a trend. And yes, I recall hearing something like "in popular colors", or some similar suggestion that they tracked the way all the cars had been ordered and were planning how to best predict what people will want from cars that they pre-build. I supposed there could have been a predilection to add some of the higher markup options (like the carbon fiber package) since they started building to a "captive audience" and had an opportunity to force an up-sell.
     
  15. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    That played out in this thread and across other forums.
    Tesla resale
     

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