Tesla opens Model 3 order process to non-employees

It may be a long while before it's your turn, though.


Tesla's Model 3 has technically been on the market since July, but only to employees, their family members or people who are tight with the EV maker. Your pre-order hasn't been very useful if you're one of the hundreds of thousands of regular would-be owners. However, Tesla is finally, slowly opening things up. The company has confirmed that it's now inviting everyday buyers to complete their orders. Only a handful of customers are likely to get one when Tesla is still struggling to ramp up production, and you still have to order a high-spec model with the long-range battery and premium interior. However, you might not have to wait long -- at least some of those who've received an invitation are hearing that they'll get receive cars before the end of 2017, as promised.

Whether or not you're included in this first wave depends on a few factors. When you pre-ordered makes the biggest difference (you need to have put money down on day one), but you also stand a much better chance if you live in California and already own a Tesla car.

At this point, the real mystery is when Tesla will truly open the taps and fulfill regular orders en masse. The company recently pushed its 5,000-cars-per-week manufacturing goal back to the end of the first quarter of 2018, and there's no guarantee that production will scale as gracefully as you might like. It may be well into 2018 before many of the early buyers get their Model 3 rides, especially those who ordered a car at the vaunted $35,000 starting price.