Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday sent an email to employees explaining the company’s decision to reduce its headcount in its sales and marketing divisions, according to a copy of the memo that was sent to CNBC.
News of the upcoming layoffs come as Tesla announced that sales of the $35,000 Model 3 were finally available, adding that all sales of Tesla vehicles would be moving exclusively online. As part of the announcement, Musk also warned that the company would not turn a profit in the first quarter, sending Tesla’s share price down more than 3 percent Thursday night.
Last month, I noted in my email that the fundamental issue Tesla must overcome is that our products remain too expensive for most people. We know there are many people who want to buy Model 3, but simply can’t afford to do so.
That is why we’re excited to announce today that we are now offering the standard Model 3 at $35,000. This is a significant milestone for Tesla, the culmination of years of hard work by employees across the company, and something of which you should all be very proud. You can read the details of the announcement on our blog: https://www.tesla.com/blog/35000-tesla-model-3-available-now
In addition, we are also making the decision to shift all sales worldwide to online only.
Last year, 78% of all Model 3 orders were placed online, rather than in a store, and 82% of customers bought their Model 3 without ever having taken a test drive. Customers can now buy a Tesla in North America via their phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla without a test drive. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Customers are becoming increasingly comfortable making purchases online, and that is especially true for Tesla — which is a testament to the products we make.
As a result, over the next few months, we will be winding down many of our stores and significantly reducing our spend on sales and marketing, which will help make the price changes we’ve announced today possible. Shifting all sales online combined with other ongoing cost efficiency will enable us to lower all vehicle prices by about 6% on average, allowing us to achieve the $35,000 Model 3 price point.
A small number of stores in high-traffic locations will remain as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers. At the same time, we will be increasing our investment in the Tesla service system and manufacturing, and I expect that headcount to grow next year.
Unfortunately, this means that some jobs will be impacted or transitioned to other areas of the business. This is a hard decision, but it necessary to make our cars more affordable. Our sales team has fought on the front lines of advancing our mission and has been our connection to hundreds of thousands of customers along the way. I want to express my sincere gratitude for all that you’ve done.
In the coming weeks, we will be evaluating all of our sales and marketing organization to understand where there are operational efficiencies, and how best to support the transition to online sales while also continuing to deliver a truly awesome and educational Tesla buying experience.
We’ll be sharing more information on this transition soon.