While flying to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to oversee SpaceX business, Elon Musk did what any of us would do with a few hours of free time: He used Twitter to chat with his 7.94 million followers about the upcoming Tesla Model 3.
As it turns out, when Elon Musk starts firing off replies on Twitter, people notice. Among the 50 messages he fired off were valuable insights into the future of his young car company and the model that’s expected to take Tesla from a few (expensive) driveways and turn it into a mass-market player. Many of the tweets seemed designed around lowering consumer expectations for the Model 3, but considering the scope of Musk’s plan for Tesla’s near future, is he the one who needs his expectations managed?
This tweet in particular serves as an example of Musk trying to cool the hype surrounding the Model 3:
Model 3 is just a smaller, more affordable version of Model S w less range & power & fewer features. Model S has more advanced technology.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2017
Okay, so the Model 3 is just like the Model S, but worse. In another tweet, he explained that the Model 3 isn’t a new “version” like an iPhone upgrading from 6 to 7, but is instead a different model, designed to be cheaper to make and to buy. Although he has promised a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model 3 is coming, it won’t be immediately available when the Model 3 starts rolling off the assembly line later this year. Instead, shoppers who put down a $1,000 deposit hoping for an all-wheel-drive sedan will have to either wait until 2018—or take a refund.
In order to keep production on schedule, Tesla is slowing its roll on how incredible the Model 3 will be. After all, it’s better to deliver a predictable (if lackluster) product than to underwhelm your first customers with something inferior to their expectations.
But does Elon Musk need to manage his own expectations? While speaking on a call with investors last month, Musk announced his plan to produce 10,000 cars per week by the end of 2018. As the math majors in the room have undoubtedly realized, this prediction means Tesla hopes to sell more than a half-million cars by the end of next year.
To put things into perspective, Tesla is currently selling about 50,000 cars per year with the Model S and Model X. To hit Musk’s goals, the company would need to either dramatically increase sales on two models priced near or above six figures, or sell 450,000 Model 3s. Considering the Toyota Camry—America’s best-selling car—moved fewer than 400,000 units in 2016, Elon Musk’s goals seem a bit lofty.
Is Elon Musk out of his mind, or will Tesla really sell a half-million cars per year?
Shopping for a new vehicle?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.