Understanding and speculation regarding the purpose of the Tesla Model S referral program has been all over the place, but if you just look at what Elon said in Tesla’s most recent conference call, it simply comes across as a test to see if such a program could replace Tesla stores and sales staff to some extent (while perhaps also preventing Model X cannibalization of Model S sales and getting around annoying and counterproductive dealership laws and fights).

Elon-Musk-aviator-glassesHere are Elon’s exact words from the conference call: “The Tesla referral program is an experiment we recently introduced to see if there is a way to return the cost of our sales to our customers. If a Tesla owner refers a friend to purchase a new Tesla, the friend will receive $1,000 off the purchase price of their Tesla, and the owner making the referral will receive a $1,000 credit to be used for Tesla service, accessories or another Tesla vehicle purchase. We will see how this works and there are certain limits, but the cost of this program reflects our typical customer acquisition costs, so it makes sense for everyone.”

Word on the street is that the program is going well. A Tesla owner on a French website (h/t electrek) reports receiving the following email:

From: Elon Musk <[email protected]>
Date: 2015-09-03 12:00 GMT-04:00
Subject: No Limits
To: Sylvain Juteau

September 2, 2015

As you know, the Model S referral program was designed as an experiment, and so far it seems to be working. So, we’ve decided to remove the 10-referral limit. From now until the end of the program, you can refer as many friends as you’d like. Your link will continue to work until October 31st. What’s more, we’ve added an additional reward: the customer who makes the most referrals by the end of October will be invited to swap their current Model S for a fully loaded Ludicrous P90D Model S, for free. All other terms of the program remain unchanged. 


Naturally, we don’t know for sure if this email is legitimate, but there’s no strong implication it’s a phony, and the title “No Limits” as well as some of the other wording seem to match Elon’s style well.

So, a huge thanks to all the Model S owners referring people to Tesla, and the second-wave (or third-wave?) adopters who are jumping on the Tesla bandwagon. And last but not least, thanks to Tesla for continuing to innovate and reward customers in creative ways.

Image via Steve Jurvetson (some rights reserved)