SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Motors Inc., testing the power of viral marketing to sell its electric cars, said today that it will offer a word-of-mouth discount on the Model S sedan through the end of October, with both referrer and buyer getting $1,000.
The timing of the discount program, which will begin as Tesla prepares to start up an assembly line for its new Model X crossover, also suggests a desire to maintain the sales pace for the Model S. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla has set a goal of delivering 55,000 units combined of the Model S and Model X in 2015.
Speaking to reporters today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk characterized the referral program as a test of an approach that could ultimately cut the cost of opening retail stores around the country. He said it currently costs Tesla about $2,000 to sell a car through one of its showrooms, but word of mouth could lower that.
“This is a short-term experiment,” Musk said during the conference call. “We’re trying to inform a long-term strategic decision here.”