Tesla has plenty of demand for its electric cars despite the pandemic, but that doesn’t appear to extend to its highest-end EVs. CNBC has obtained an internal Tesla email revealing that the automaker will shut down production for the Model S and Model X between December 24th and January 11th, or 18 days. The company noted in a separate email that demand for its cars was “quite a bit higher” than supply during the quarter, according to the leak, so there’s clearly interest in the more affordable Model 3 and Model Y.
Workers will reportedly get a full week’s pay, a few paid holidays and “limited paid opportunities” to work with other teams, but that still leaves five unpaid days off for those who can’t find additional gigs or use their own paid time off.
Tesla is understood to have shut down its PR department and no longer responds to requests for comment.
A demand shortfall wouldn’t be a complete surprise. Production of more affordable EVs outstripped the luxury vehicles a long time ago. Tesla delivered just 15,200 Model S and X units in the third quarter of 2020 out of a total 139,300 cars. There’s also the question of pent-up interest for the souped-up “Plaid” Model S — if you can afford to splurge on an upscale EV, you might be tempted to wait for the most powerful version.
The full-fledged production shutdown is still significant, though, and reinforces just how much Tesla’s strategy has changed in a few years. Even in the early days of the Model 3, the S and X were still considered important parts of the lineup — now, they’re niche cars. Tesla is now aiming more at the mainstream (if still above typical prices), and that’s unlikely to change when the company hopes to produce a $25,000 car in the next few years.