Wesley, my car guru reader, asked me last week if I was going to preorder a Tesla Model 3 on March 31. I told him I wanted to actually see the car first before I pre-ordered it, but that’s not going to be possible. It seems Tesla wants you to pre-order it before you can even see it.
How to preorder
The best way to preorder the car is by visiting a Tesla dealership and making a $1,000 deposit on March 31. The deposit is refundable if you change your mind down the road. Tesla is giving priority to current owners first. The public ONLINE preorder won’t happen until later that night on the 31st. The car is slated to ship in late 2017, but I have a feeling it won’t ship until 2018, especially if you aren’t a current owner or don’t do the store pre-order.
Cost of car
The car apparently is going to cost $35,000 before tax benefits. Both Wesley and I are assuming it’ll probably cost you $45K to $50K fully loaded.
Lease or Buy
This is actually a tough decision. Wesley says he wants to lease the car, but I think I want to buy the car. A friend said that Tesla’s federal tax incentives may end in 2017 or 2018 (correct me if I’m wrong,) so if you lease the model 3 for 3 years and return it and decide to get a different one, the tax benefit may be gone.
Another reason why buying isn’t a bad option for a Tesla is because the car has a high residual value. I remember looking at a used 1 year old model S, and the asking price was about the same price as new. Plus, I’d have to pay sales tax on the used car vs the new one. The premium you are paying is due to not having to wait for your Tesla S to be built. If the model 3 is backlogged years, which is a good probability, I think you can resell the car after 3 years and have paid less in depreciation over those 3 years vs having leased it for 3 years.
What about the Audi?
Regular readers will know that I still have my Audi and the Infiniti SUV. The wife will continue to drive the Infiniti, and I’ll probably switch to the Tesla. While I still love driving my Audi every day, I barely drive the car. I drive the car from home to work and that’s it. On the weekends, we take the SUV around. Plus, if the model 3 ships in early 2018, I’ll have hit 3 years on the Audi and my extended warranty will end. I always expected to keep the Audi for only 3 years, so the timing will work out perfectly. I think the model 3 as a daily commute just makes more sense than the Audi.
I don’t know how long the lines are going to be for the pre-order, but for sure, I’m going to preorder in store before the online preorder opens.