Carmageddon for Tesla Model 3: US Deliveries Plunge 55% to 60% from Q4, Laid-off Delivery Employees tell Reuters

Carmageddon for Tesla Model 3: US Deliveries Plunge 55% to 60% from Q4, Laid-off Delivery Employees tell Reuters by Wolf Richter for Wolf Street

Most everyone in the US who ever wanted & could afford a high-priced Model 3 now has one? Pent-up demand for luxury cars in the era of Carmageddon is a tricky thing, especially when tax credits phase out.

Details trickling out over the 3,200-plus layoffs Tesla announced on January 18 are starting to paint a picture of what is happening on the demand side for the Model 3 in the US. According to two laid-off employees cited by Reuters, the company has gutted its delivery team of 230 people at its Las Vegas facility that delivered tens of thousands of Model 3s to buyers mostly in the US but also in Canada.

About 150 of the 230 employees on the team have been let go, the two sources said who were among those let go, as the company struggles with deliveries that have plunged from the pace in the fourth quarter last year.

The federal tax credit of $7,500 was cut in half to $3,750 at the beginning of the year after Tesla’s EV sales rose past the 200,000-threshold in 2018. Yet the $35,000 Model 3 that CEO Elon Musk promised in 2016 remains a distant promise.

The company already slashed its Model 3 price twice this year to stimulate demand, yet the least expensive Model 3 still has a price tag of $42,900.

“There are not enough deliveries,” one of the laid-off employees told Reuters. “You don’t need a team because there are not that many cars coming through.”

The two laid-off employees said that in the first quarter, delivery targets for North America – mostly buyers in the US but also in Canada – are down 55% to 60% from what they were in Q4 2018.

After a herculean effort late last year, Tesla delivered 145,610 Model 3s in 2018, all of them high-priced luxury versions. During this effort to deliver as many Model 3s as possible while the full federal tax credit of $7,500 was still in effect, the reservation list was “plucked clean” of American buyers “willing to pay current prices,” as Reuters put it, citing those two laid-off employees on the delivery team.

“We sold through just about every car we had on the ground and we called almost every being on the planet who had ever expressed desire to own a Tesla to let them know the tax credit was expiring,” said the other laid-off employee. Late last year, employees around the company were reassigned to pitch in, the source told Reuters.

Reuters said that “Tesla declined to comment on the job reductions in the delivery team.”

Of the 3,200-plus full-time employees to be laid off, at least 1,017 are at facilities in California, according to required disclosures that Tesla filed with the California Employment Development Department, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on February 6. The layoffs in California will start on March 20:

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Wolf Richter

In his cynical, tongue-in-cheek manner, he muses on WOLF STREET about economic, business, and financial issues, Wall Street shenanigans, complex entanglements, and other things, debacles, and opportunities that catch his eye in the US, Europe, Japan, and occasionally China. WOLF STREET is the successor to his first platform… TP-Title-7-small-200px …whose ghastly name he finally abandoned in July 2014. Here’s the story on that. Wolf lives in San Francisco. He has over twenty years of C-level operations experience, including turnarounds and a VC-funded startup. He earned his BA and MBA in Texas and his MA in Oklahoma, worked in both states for years, including a decade as General Manager and COO of a large Ford dealership and its subsidiaries. But one day, he quit and went to France for seven weeks to open himself up to new possibilities, which degenerated into a life-altering three-year journey across 100 countries on all continents, much of it overland. And it almost swallowed him up.