The Over-Exaggeration Of Tesla Wait Times Is Just That — Heavily Exaggerated

Tesla is well known for having a bit of a wait time on its vehicles, whether its production time, delivery time, or something else. If you follow media headlines and critics of Tesla closely, it would seem that this is a Tesla-specific problem. This, in my opinion, is something that those spreading the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about the company (for one reason or another) want you to believe.

Vehicle wait times are not Tesla-specific. In this article, I’m going to share some details backing up this claim.

First, let’s dive into the tweet that inspired this article. Twitter user @BCBrownell shared that the Cybertruck unveiling was 547 days or less than two years ago, and not a single Cybertruck has been built since. This got a lot of replies, especially from Tesla critics who write about Tesla in various media outlets.

Vehicles Ranked By Wait Times

Here is a quick breakdown with information from Wikipedia.

Tesla Model S

In 2012, Tesla reported 520 reservations for the Model S during the first week they were available. The first delivery of the Model S in the U.S. also took place in 2012.

Tesla Model X

Tesla started taking reservations for the Model X in February 2012. In September 2015, the first six Founders Series vehicles were delivered. Following that, the first Signature edition vehicle was delivered in December 2015. Then, after the first quarter of 2016, all Tesla Model X delivers had been delivered to U.S. customers. So, about four years if you don’t count the Founders Series and Signature edition vehicles.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s challenges with delivering this vehicle are well documented, so we’ll keep this short. At first, production for the Model 3 was limited after starting in mid-2017. The first 30 cars were delivered in July 2017, but it took much longer to get the Model 3 to mass production. Once solving that challenge in 2018, retail deliveries in Europe and China began in February 2019. So, a rough estimate would be a wait time of 1–3 years depending on where you’re located.

Tesla Model Y

In March of 2019, Tesla started production of the Model Y and deliveries started in March of 2020 smoothly despite the pandemic putting the entire world in lockdown.

The Tesla Semi and next-gen Roadster

The Tesla Semi was unveiled in November 2017 and production is planned to start this year–2021. The first pre-orders started on the day of the reveal event. By the middle of January 2018, around 450 Semis had been pre-ordered, according to reports. During the Q1 2019 earnings call, Elon Musk said there were around 2,000 pre-orders of the Tesla Semi.

Tesla announced the next-gen Roadster in 2017 and started taking reservations during the same time. Production is slated to start in 2022.

Now, there are valid reasons as to why these two are having longer wait times than the rest of Tesla’s product line. Tesla has prioritized its mass-market models, the Model 3 and Model Y, and is working on battery technology that will help the Semi, as well as its other vehicles, have improved efficiency.

Tesla’s focus is on producing as many clean energy vehicles as possible at competitive prices. However, it has to scale up battery production capacity and vehicle production capacity to expand its lineup, especially with the Model 3 and Model Y being so popular.

Tesla Cybertruck

In November 2019, Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck and started taking pre-orders right away.  The Cybertruck is about to go into production next month and a few Cybertruck reservation holders have already received emails. I have not, but I pre-ordered the single motor and I remember distinctly that one being the last on the list to be produced — and I’m totally fine with that.

Looking at the above while excluding the Roadster and Semi, Tesla’s average wait time from production to delivery of its vehicles is about 2 years for those of us in the U.S. This doesn’t include the made-in-China Model 3s, which were promptly produced once Giga Shanghai came online, but a quick timeline of that shows that Giga Shanghai came on in late 2019 and its first deliveries of made-in-China EVs started in December 2019.

Timeline of Some of Other Automaker EVs From Production To Delivery

Before I dive in, it should be noted that unlike Tesla, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Daimler have decades of manufacturing experience — they didn’t have to start from scratch as Tesla had to. For them, the challenges that Tesla was faced were minor or pretty much nonexistent. Tesla is building its manufacturing factories afresh, while the other three competitors I’m about to list already had manufacturing factories (though, production lines of course had to be converted or created).

Volkswagen ID.3

The Volkswagen ID.3 was unveiled in September 2019 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. However, it was first shown as the I.D. concept car in 2016. Volkswagen had been working on this vehicle for quite a bit. Deliveries to retail customers in Germany began in September 2020.

Volkswagen ID.4

The Volkswagen ID.4 was unveiled in September 2020 and deliveries started to European customers in late 2020. Deliveries for North American customers started this year. So, less than a year.

The Porsche Taycan

The Porsche Taycan’s concept version, then named Porsche Mission E, debuted in 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In 2019, it was production ready. More than 20,000 were delivered in 2020, which was its debut sales year.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ

The Mercedes-Benz EQ was first seen at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 as the Generation EQ concept vehicle. Mercedes-Benz plans to start selling ten EQ models by next 2022. The EQC started selling in Europe in 2019, but after repeated delays, it seems the EQC may not make it to the US market.

Audi e-tron

The Audi e-tron was first spotted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and was Audi’s first mass produced fully electric vehicle. It was first delivered to customers in May 2019.

Jaguar I-PACE

The Jaguar I-PACE was announced in March 2018, with European deliveries beginning in June 2018. North American deliveries started in October 2018. The I-PACE was the first electric SUV from legacy auto.

Final Thoughts

In some cases, Tesla’s delivery times could be higher than Volkswagen’s or Jaguar’s or Porsche’s. However, it’s pretty much on par with the other automakers despite having to build its own factories (two of which are still under construction today) — excluding the Semi and Roadster. In the case of the Cybertruck, it will be produced at Giga Texas, which is coming along nicely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *