Tesla is dropping its customer referral program, CEO Elon Musk announced on Thursday, a cost-cutting exercise as part of the company’s efforts to make more affordable electric vehicles. The program gave consumers access to freebies like use of Tesla’s superchargers, depending on how many friends they convinced to buy a car using their referral code.
The current iteration of the referral program, unveiled in October 2018, was scheduled to run until March 11. Musk explained that not only would the program stop early on February 1, but it won’t return with any new offers as it had done previously. The current program gives buyers six months’ use of the 120-kilowatt superchargers, which can recharge a car in around half an hour, while offering escalating rewards for referrers, including a Founders Series Tesla Model S for Kids, priority access to software updates, and invitations to product launches. Tesla did not respond to an Inverse request for comment ahead of publication.
One of the most intriguing perks, offered to users that had scored one qualifying referral via their account, was the option to send a laser-etched photo into space. Tesla explained that “we’ll laser-etch any image onto glass and send it into deep space orbit for millions of years,” and “also send you a limited edition hat to commemorate the launch” while “you wait for an alien race to discover your payload.” Tesla has yet to announce any further details about this perk, including whether it will take advantage of Musk’s other venture SpaceX.
Tesla has taken a number of measures in recent months to ensure it can maintain high production rates for the Model 3, its cheapest electric car first introduced in July 2017. It removed two colors off the menu to simplify production, while also dropping the 75-kilowatt-hour versions of the Model S and X from its order pages. The company has also started construction of a Shanghai Gigafactory, aimed at producing affordable electric vehicles closer to consumers to save on costs like shipping.
Tesla may reveal more details about these cost-saving measures at the next quarterly earnings call, which analysts expect to take place after markets close on Wednesday, February 6.
With the referral program going away, Tesla’s moved into a new era for its vehicles. Are solar roof referral programs next? SpaceX trips after that?