Tesla has brought a handful of production versions of its much-hyped Model 3 to Australia. But Australian customers who put down $1500 deposits more than two years ago still have at least a year to wait before their cars arrive.
There is still no firm date for local deliveries. The company’s local website says right-hand drive production will start in the next year with deliveries to commence in the next 12 to 18 months.
But prospective owners still queued for a look at the cars at showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane yesterday. The cars are on show for the general public today.
Production woes have strangled the car makers supply causing the brand to miss multiple production targets but it built its long-held goal of 5000 Model 3s in one week in June and has reportedly maintained that rate of production since.
To boost production, the company built a third assembly line under a tent in the carpark of its Freemont factory.
The left-hand drive model that is on display in Australia yesterday is meant to drum up local support for the upcoming zero-emission vehicle and keep the faith with customers who still have deposits on the car.
The Model 3 was originally promoted as the affordable Tesla — boss Elon Musk said prices would start at $US35,000, translating to about $60,000 in Australia after taxes and import duties are applied.
However, the automaker is yet to build any of the more affordable models, instead concentrating on producing the higher-spec and more expensive versions. Tesla’s website states that the cheaper standard battery models will be available in the US in five to eight months. Tesla Australia declines to give any details on the model line-up. It wouldn’t reveal whether any customers who held deposits had cancelled them because of the long wait.
Currently the cheapest Model 3 — which is the model now on display — is $66,610 in local currency before taxes and import duties are applied, which would push the price tag closer to $80,000 drive-away. This price tag is on par with a Mercedes-Benz C300 or and Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro.
The most expensive model is the all-wheel drive dual motor performance variant which is meant to compete with performance compact sedans such as the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63.
Musk has recently been in the spotlight thanks to his explosive claims on Twitter that he would take Tesla private if its share price reached $420 and that funding was secured.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)
This claim drew the attention of the American financial regulator the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is investigating whether funding was actually secured and whether the statement affected the share price.
The funding that Musk was speaking of was purportedly to come from the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.
The same fund has recently been linked to another American electric car start-up Lucid Motors. The fund is allegedly weighing up investing more than $US1 billion in the fledgling electric car company.