The hundreds of thousands of $1,000 deposits placed for the Tesla Model 3 electric cars by potential buyers around the world came as an eye-opening shock to the auto industry.
More than 100,000 such deposits were placed during the day that preceded the car's unveiling on the evening of March 31.
Then, on April 7, April 14, and April 21, the total rose steadily, from more than 325,000 to "approaching 400,000" to "almost 400,000."
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Now the company has released its first update in a month, contained in the prospectus details that describe a major new sale of common stock to raise funds for Model 3 production.
The company has accelerated its plans for production of half a million cars a year from the end of 2020 to the end of 2018, an audacious goal that many in the auto industry feel is somewhere between unlikely and flat-out impossible.
Tesla Model 3
Be that as it may, the billions of dollars to be raised are meant to support manufacturing of the $35,000 Model 3, with a range of 200 miles or more, that the company says is to go into production before the end of next year.
So are there actually 400,000 deposits for Model 3 reservations?
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The prospectus language says:
On March 31, 2016, we unveiled Model 3, a lower priced sedan designed for the mass market, and as of May 15, 2016, we held deposits from about 373,000 customers who had made reservations for this car.
Tesla Model 3
This reservation total is a net number after customer cancellations of about 8,000 and after about 4,200 reservations that we canceled on the belief that they could have been duplicates from speculators.
Simple math brings the pre-netting total to 385,000.
We'll leave it to the financial analysts, commentators, and investors to wrangle over whether the 4-percent different between that number and 400,000 is a permissible rounding-up.
(That debate has already begun between those who hold shares of Tesla Motors or intend to and those who have shorted the stock. Thankfully, we don't cover those financial details on this site.)
Meanwhile, until another update, we're content to say that Tesla Motors now claims it has 373,000 deposits for the Model 3.
Until the next tweet, anyhow.