Tesla has dominated the news cycle all weekend after Thursday night’s unveiling of the Model 3.
Tesla didn’t give us any specifics about upper trim levels, exact performance, or range numbers, but it did generate enough interest in the roughly $35,000, 200-mile electric car to have accepted well over 250,000 pre-orders.
That’s an impressive number for a car that’s still two years from being released.
Such extraordinary interest is unprecedented in the auto industry and could be indicative of massive change on the horizon. Will it be for the better?
Tesla is changing many aspects of the auto industry, including marketing, public relations, and sales. The rest of the industry isn’t likely to follow suit, at least not right away, but Tesla is proving that car buyers are more than willing to embrace change.
The biggest act of defiance is Tesla’s refusal to use the traditional dealer model, instead selling factory-direct at fixed prices. Dealers are an essential part of the sales process in the rest of the industry, but Tesla has shown that a different process is certainly possible.
Mainstream automakers have attempted no-haggle pricing, but none have had any real success. That could be because, until now, people haven’t thought of cars as extensions of technology. The Model 3 is already showing that there are at least 250,000 people who see buying a Tesla the same as buying an iPad. Should this trend filter through the rest of the industry, though, buyers can say goodbye to good deals. That would be a shame.
The California company also markets its cars differently from other automakers. Rather than flashy TV commercials, Tesla relies on blog posts and Twitter announcements. Instead of relying on auto shows for car debuts, Tesla stages company events, much like tech-giant Apple.
Tesla isn’t likely to influence change across the entire auto industry, but then again, 10 years ago very few people thought the Model 3 would see the light of day.
CEO Elon Musk consistently redefines the limits of what’s possible, and maybe changing the auto industry is next on his list.
Could Tesla and Elon Musk wind up changing the entire auto industry?