In effect, Tesla just told potential customers that they need to order ASAP to get the biggest possible discount. However, they must choose between options starting at $49,000 (before the tax credit).
Adding to the intrigue, Tesla appears likely to start deliveries outside of North America in early 2019. It will probably spend most of the first half of next year fulfilling demand for the higher-priced Model 3 variants outside of the U.S. and Canada. As a result, the $35,000 base model probably won’t become available (in the U.S. or anywhere else) until the spring of 2019.
As a result, many U.S. reservation holders who are waiting for cheaper versions of the Model 3 may not even get the $3,750 tax credit that will be available during the first half of 2019. They will more likely get the $1,875 credit that will apply to Tesla vehicles delivered in the second half of next year.
Thus, there’s a big incentive for U.S. reservation holders to place an order now, as they won’t save nearly as much money as they may have expected by waiting for Tesla to begin building cheaper Model 3s. It also means that the most price-sensitive reservation holders may not be able to afford a Model 3 after all, as the post-tax-credit price could be $5,625 higher than originally advertised.