That’s a big $63 million refund check Musk needs to cut.
Every starry-eyed entrepreneur might look at someone like Elon Musk and want to follow in his footsteps, but it’s right about now that wishing to be the ballsy CEO is a crazy thing to do. With the world anxiously waiting to see how quickly the entrepreneur—who made his fortune in the tech world and not in the manufacturing realm—can ramp up production of a car slated to change the world, stress levels seem to be at an extreme.
Various sources are giving glimpses into both the efforts behind the Model 3, from the struggles to the minor successes, and how Musk is dealing with them. The first is a spot of bad news. Citing a conference call with the CEO and various news outlets, CNBC reports that Musk pegs Tesla Model 3 preorders at 455,000, down from 518,000 when the company first began offering reservations spots for the entry-level electric car. What this means is that 63,000 preorder customers have cancelled their reservations for one reason or another, but Musk does not seem to be disheartened. "Those cancellations occurred over the course of more than a year," Musk said on the call.
He added, "I think [these numbers] are inconsequential. With a small amount of effort we can easily drive the Model 3 reservation number to something much higher but there's no point. It's like if you're a restaurant and you're serving hamburgers and there's like an hour and a half wait for hamburgers do you really want to encourage more people to order more hamburgers?” Demand, it seems, is not the faintest of worries for Musk, and that’s backed up by CNET, which claims that Tesla has been taking 1,800 Model 3 preorders per day since the first 30 Model 3s were handed over on July 28th. Orders for the Model S and Model X were up as well, but as Musk stated previously, it's not demand that’s the issue, it’s figuring out how to ramp up supply.
The stress seems to be exposing the cracks for Musk, who claimed that his emotions were swinging so wildly he may as well be bipolar. He went as far as to liken the manufacturing process to hell. "When I said 'manufacturing hell,' I meant it," he said on the call. "We know this, we signed up for it. Not blaming hell because we bought the ticket,” said Musk. Perhaps suffering of grips of a bipolar mania, he added, “This is maybe the best I've ever felt about Tesla to be frank.” For now, preorder holder or not, all we can do is watch from the sidelines.