Tesla now requires a $2,500 non-refundable deposit to order a Model 3

Tesla outlines new process to order a Model 3, which includes a $2,500 deposit

The $1,000 refundable reservation program for the Tesla Model 3 is going away. Starting this week, anyone in the U.S. or Canada who wants to order and configure a Model 3 will need to put down a $2,500 nonrefundable deposit, according to Electrek. The change was confirmed by Tesla.

Tesla’s Model 3 order backlog has not disappeared, despite reports of reservation refunds. With the new system in place, however, now you’ll be able to tell roughly how long you’ll have to wait to take delivery of a Model 3 right on Tesla’s website.

It’s all about the configuration

New model delivery times for the Model 3 vary depending on the drive, motor, and battery configurations. The shortest wait, currently 2-to-4 months, is for the Performance version. Long-range dual-motor, all-wheel-drive, and rear-wheel-drive Model 3s have a 3-to-5-month delivery schedule.

If you’d like to stick as close as possible to the $35,000 base price, you’ll have to wait for 6-to-9 months for a rear-wheel-drive Model 3 with the standard battery.


When the new system debuts on Tesla’s website, potential customers will be able to run the Model 3 Configurator to choose options and colors. Previously only reservation holders could access the Configurator after they were notified it was their turn. The Model 3 order system now in place is identical to that used for the Tesla Model S and Model X.

When you select your desired Model 3 configuration, colors, and options, and after your deposit transfers to Tesla, your configuration is matched with a VIN number. At that point, you’ll see a more precise delivery time.

Say goodbye to the refundable reservation

When Tesla began taking reservations for the Model 3 on March 31, 2016, would-be customers lined up at Tesla showrooms across the country to place their orders. Reservations were limited to two per person, and some deposits were returned after Tesla determined they were placed by speculators.

The day after Tesla started accepting Model 3 reservations, an exuberant CEO Elon Musk tweeted: “Model 3 orders at 180,000 in 24 hours. Selling price with average option mix probably $42,ooo, so $7.5 billion in a day. Future of electric cars looking bright!”

The number of announced reservations grew to 420,000, after which Tesla stopped publicizing the total.

Many people believed their refundable $1,000 reserved a spot in a first in, first out delivery priority order, but it was soon clear that would not be the case. Tesla employees who lived close to the Fremont, California, factory were at the top of the list. Subsequent deliveries rolled out by location.

Key fobs for the first Model 3s off the production line weren’t placed in owners’ hands until late 2017, with only 1,550 delivered in the fourth quarter of the year. The first models were long-range versions with dual motors and all-wheel-drive.

During 2018, Tesla’s focus has been on increasing production — it only recently reached a 5,000 vehicle-per-week goal. At that time, Musk sent out company email that stated, “I think we just became a real car company,” Reuters reported.

With the demise of the refundable reservation fee and with the new deposit program in place, it appears real customers will be able to place orders with greater confidence in their delivery dates.

Updated July 10, 2018, with corrected information about the new Model 3 order process, including a nonrefundable $2,500 deposit.

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