Electric Cars

Elon Musk bought trucking companies to hasten Tesla Model 3 deliveries

This way, more buyers should be able to receive their vehicle before the tax incentive phase-out begins.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Originally, Tesla suggested that buyers who wanted to take advantage of the full $7,500 EV federal tax incentive would need to order their vehicles by Oct. 15. But a last-minute Tesla shopping spree of sorts has reopened that window and extended it a fair bit.

Elon Musk announced today in a thread on Twitter (where else) that Tesla has "acquired trucking capacity" that will ensure Model 3 deliveries before Dec. 31 for orders placed by Nov. 30. That amounts to an extra six weeks of ordering time to take advantage of the $7,500 EV tax incentive before the phase-out begins for deliveries starting on Jan. 1.

When pressed about what he meant, Musk explained that the automaker had "bought some trucking companies" and "secured contracts with major haulers" to avoid future logistical complications that have plagued Tesla as Model 3 deliveries rise dramatically. A Tesla spokesperson declined Roadshow's request for additional information, including the names of the acquired companies and those with which Tesla has secured contracts.

At least some of Tesla's newfound logistical backup will be used to replace, not complement, shipping by train. Musk noted in his tweet that using trucks over trains saves "over a month" for deliveries in the eastern US. However, it's unclear what the net pollution gain, if any, would be from choosing a fleet of trucks over a single freight train for shipping cars eastward.

As long as an owner's new Tesla is delivered on or before Dec. 31, 2018, that owner will be eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax incentive. For deliveries between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2019, the incentive will be halved to $3,750, and it'll be halved for another six months before disappearing entirely. Those waiting for the fabled $35,000 Model 3 will miss the full incentive, as the vehicle is on target for the first half of 2019.

It's worth noting that this is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of an owner's federal tax liability, and not a do-whatever-with-it check in a mailbox -- in all likelihood, some of Tesla's buyers won't pay enough federal tax to realize the incentive's full benefit.

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