Tesla Motors will host a gala introduction of its sexy and mass-market affordable $35,000 Model 3 at its Hawthorne Design Center on the evening of March 31.
An invitation was posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum by “Reeler,” showing the company’s acknowledgement that he had won two tickets to attend the upcoming Model 3 unveiling event as part of Tesla’s controversial second Referral Program.
The incentive, launched in late September, offered each Tesla owner who referred buyers of a Tesla Model S sedan $1,000 in cash. Any owner that referred 10 or more buyers was to receive the cash, plus highly coveted tickets to the very exclusive Tesla début.
Breitbart News reported shortly thereafter that Frank Alvarez, Chief of the California Department Motor Vehicles’ Investigations Division, had warned CEO Elon Musk that a Tesla program to pay cash referral fees to Tesla owners for prospects “violates California laws.” Alvarez described the Tesla offer as “a practice commonly referred to in the vehicle sales industry as offering ‘bird dog fees.”
Characterized as a “way of thanking you for continuing to build the Tesla community,” Tesla had begun offering offering a $1,000 referral fee on its website as of Oct. 1 to anyone “who orders a new Model S before Oct. 31 using the referral link of a current owner.” Any current owner that achieved 10 referrals was also promised tickets to the Model 3 introduction.
Tesla’s first referral program earlier in the year had promised to offer a $25,000 discount toward an immediate delivery of a “Tesla Founder Series Model X”, which had almost a one year backlog, according to ExtremeTech.
No one knows if the Tesla launch event will reveal a functional prototype of Tesla’s Model 3 affordable mass-market vehicle with “next generation Tesla technology,” or whether will it turn out to be an extension of the reservation event that will be taking place earlier in the day across all Tesla stores with mock-ups.
Musk said at a special Tesla event held in France in January that the company will not be revealing all of the details of the Model 3 from the onset: “The first pictures of the Model 3 will be end of March [and] we are not gonna show everything about the Model 3 until a lot closer to production time.”
But the Teslarati blog has been publishing pictures of camouflaged prototype “mules” that have been noticed on the road since early 2015. At that time, Tesla said it did not plan to introduce the Model 3 to the world until 2017.
The decision to speed up the Model 3’s introduction may be linked to the horrible quality issues that have hammered Tesla’s stock price since the fall.
Breitbart News reported in October that Consumer Reports (CR) pulled Tesla’s perfect 100-point score awarded in early September 2015 as the “best-performing car we’ve ever tested.” A month later, CR revised the score for the $127,820 Model S to a “worse than average” 43, after receiving 1,400 responses by owners who complained about a litany of squeaks, rattles and multiple electric motor replacements.
In a follow-on article, Breitbart News documented that Tesla began a voluntary worldwide recall Nov. 20 to inspect every one of the 90,000 Model S cars the company has built. Although the company claimed that the motivation was seat belt safety problems, it had already been reported that problems with Tesla’s unsustainable drivetrain had been known to insiders and owners for a long time.
Those fears were confirmed with the release of a Plug-In America study reporting that out of 327 Model S cars analyzed, as many as two-thirds had their drivetrains replaced before the car mileage hit 60,000, according to Green Car Reports.
There has been a feverish excitement over the potential of the Model 3 to make Tesla a meaningful player in the mainstream auto industry. Details of the car are still closely shrouded in secrecy, but it is known that the Model 3 vehicle will be similar in size as the Audi A4, have over 200 miles of range, and cost $35,000 before incentives.
The current federal electric vehicle incentive available in all states is a $7,500 tax credit. But California, Tesla’s biggest market, also offers another $2,500 in cash and access to multi-passenger lanes. A few other states offer less generous state incentives.
If both incentives are available and can be applied as a down-payment, California buyers of the Model 3 could possibly finance the drive-off of a very sexy new car with nothing down and about a $235 per month in payment over a five-year term.