Some Tesla owners will be paying much less than others for their electric cars, thanks to tax credits offered by the federal government. A $7,500 credit is available to people buying one of the first 200,000 eligible vehicles made by an auto manufacturer.
As of a few days ago, there were 325,000 pre-orders of Tesla’s new Model 3, each reserved with a $1,000 deposit. Tesla has already sold tens of thousands of other models–roughly 25,000 Model S cars in 2015, for instance–and these too count toward the company reaching the 200,000-sale mark.
At first glance, one might assume that anyone buying a Tesla after the company has already sold 200,000 units would be out of luck and miss out on the $7,500 tax credit. But there’s a loophole. The law actually doesn’t say that the credit expires with 200,001st vehicle sold, but rather at the end of the quarter in which the company hits the 200,000th vehicle. There’s potentially some significant wiggle room here.
According to Automotive News, Tesla could hit that number on the first day of a quarter and then have a few months to pump out as many cars as possible–each eligible for the full $7,500 credit.
Asked by a Twitter user whether this move was on the table, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested he would potentially employ it.
With the enormous amount of pre-orders, which amount to $14 billion worth of automobiles, Tesla will have to balance lowering the cost to customers—via the tax credit—with making sure everything runs smoothly. Tesla is already sailing in uncharted waters and is playing a high-stakes game, and a botched car at this level of popularity could scare consumers and push back the electric car’s mainstream adoption for another decade.