Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a prototype of the company’s new Model 3 in a ceremony on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Leading up to the event, droves of future customers waited in line at the company’s showrooms and online to place $1,000 deposits on the company’s most affordable model to date.
On Friday, Musk announced on Twitter that his company generated roughly 180,000 orders in 24 hours. Less than two hours later, he said that the total is closer to 200,000.
By Musk’s math, 180,000 orders means that the automaker has booked about $7.5 billion in future sales. It’s based on a price of $42,000 a car.
The car’s base price is about $35,000, but it is expected to launch with versions that cost well above that.
Model 3 orders at 180,000 in 24 hours. Selling price w avg option mix prob $42k, so ~$7.5B in a day. Future of electric cars looking bright!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2016
Musk is, of course, making some assumptions there, namely about how many of those who placed deposits will actually buy the car when it’s ready in 2017 or 2018.
Venture capitalist David Pakman, however, tweeted a different take that still leads to some impressive numbers. If the company books 200,000 preorders and actually sells cars to 70% of those buyers at the lowest-possible price, then it means the company has just locked in $4.9 billion in future sales, with little money spent on marketing.
And regardless of the eventual sell-through, what is already clear is that — with the 200,000 preorders that Musk announced — Tesla has raked in $200 million in interest-free cash.
The company wasn’t immediately available for comment on what it planned to do with those funds.
With ~200K pre-orders (so far), assuming 70% convert, at $35K ASP (likely low), @TeslaMotors sold $4.9B of cars in the last 24 hours.
— David Pakman (@pakman) April 1, 2016
Tesla shares rose 5.2% to about $242 in early trading on Friday, but gave up some of those gains later in the day. The stock is up over 60% from a February low — in part in anticipation of the new car.
Meeting the hype
But if Tesla will live up to the hype — one analyst on Friday raised the price target on Tesla to $500 a share, according to Bloomberg — then the company still has to execute on timing and delivery of the new cars.
Tesla is promising to deliver the cars starting in late 2017, but as Business Insider’s Bryan Logan notes, all of Tesla’s previous vehicles — the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X SUV — arrived late, for various reasons.
The company also has to sustain sales past the initial hype. Those deposits are fully refundable, which means that many buyers could, by late 2017 or 2018, lose interest in the car or be unable to follow up with the additional $34,000 — and up — that it will take to actually buy one.
Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas recently predicted that Tesla would fall well short of the company’s target of 500,000 annual unit sales by 2020. Jonas, a noted Tesla bull, suggested that the company would be selling closer to just under 249,000 cars annually by 2020. But that was before Thursday’s bookings.
With Tesla having delivered more than 50,000 cars in 2015, reaching roughly a quarter million would see production increase five times as much by 2020. That means that even with Jonas’ conservative projection, the Model 3 will play a very substantial role in the company’s future.
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