Taking a Tip from Tesla – Build Hype and Take Deposits with Limited Releases


On July 28th, the first 30 customers received delivery of their Tesla Model 3. It’s a model of success for the beleaguered electric car company, and one from which the automotive sales industry can learn. The initial announcement arrived with huge fanfare, and in the first three days alone, more than 276,000 deposits were placed for the low-cost electric car.

Tesla’s greatest victory with the Model 3 is its very public announcement and unveiling. The hype was immediate and the response was overwhelming, to say the least. When the customer’s promise is of exclusivity, the emotional response is triggered. That’s precisely how a dealership can capitalize on the same formula, albeit in a scaled version.

Three Ways to Build Hype with Limited Releases

At the dealership level, your resources are much more limited than Tesla’s, no doubt. However, using tools and methods at your disposal, your dealership’s sales department – and at times including your parts and service departments – can also turn limited releases into wild success.

Manufacturer Special Editions

Most carmakers have their own special editions – Nissan has Midnight Edition models, Honda calls it Black Edition, and Chevrolet’s Redline Edition is also available.

When your manufacturer allows orders for their own special edition, embrace the opportunity. Order a healthy stock of units across the models to which it applies. And plan ahead for your ‘product release’, creating your own in-house ad campaign to blitz your customers once the vehicles begin to land.

Dealer-Equipped Special Editions

If your manufacturer doesn’t have a special edition, create your own. Northern climates might call it a ‘Tundra Edition’ while coastal regions might choose a ‘Ripcurl Edition’ moniker. Local suppliers can create your badging while relevant accessories are added to the vehicle. Upgraded wheels, running boards, graphics packages, mirror caps, and other simple-to-install accessories can be packaged to be a unique offering from your store, complete with special-edition badges.

Like special editions from manufacturers, advertise these dealer-specific vehicles, even drumming up your own ‘launch night’. Make ownership of your dealer’s special edition feel like an exclusive option.

An Accessory Blitz

The same can be done for accessories, and it’s especially successful for trucks. Lift kits, oversized wheels and tires, side steps, upgraded bumpers, light bars – truck buyers love these toys to make their vehicles unlike any other.

Keep just a few in stock, which emphasizes the limited offering for the truck equipped just how they would like it.

Offer Pre-Orders

Absolutely nothing creates desire better than telling someone they can’t have what they want. It’s why Tesla’s Model 3 deposits rocketed to nearly 300,000 in just three days. The same structure can be used on your dealership floor.

With a Special Edition launch party for manufacturer-built special editions, time the party to coincide with the initial product drop at your store. For dealer-equipped special editions, send out an ad blitz when there’s just one or two of each model ready. And for accessorized vehicles, keep stock minimal.

At your launch, taking deposits or pre-orders adds a dramatic flair. Without saying such, it tells customers that availability is limited and the time to act is now. Even if the desired model can be readied in just a few days, commitments to buy will be much higher when the customer expects limited availability.


Mimic Tesla’s successful Model 3 launch platform to drive your sales on limited releases. When dealer-equipped editions and accessories are involved, it benefits the rest of your dealership as well.