Priority number one for the embattled Elon Musk going into the weekend was striking a deal with federal regulators — a task he achieved Saturday by agreeing to pay a hefty fine and step down as Tesla chairman.
Priority number two was to push as many electric cars out the door as possible before midnight Sunday, when the end of the third quarter would trigger more scrutiny than ever of his frantic bid to start earning money. An army of Tesla-owning volunteers swooped in to help deliver cars to new buyers while Musk cheered on his employees, telling them in emails to “ignore all distractions” and that they were on the cusp of “an epic victory beyond all expectations.”
The Musk faithful put their full support behind the quarter-end push. In the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, more than 75 people crammed into Tesla’s service center and another 50 or so waited outside. In the Los Angeles community of Marina del Rey, a steady stream of customers arrived while tractor trailers pulled in to unload vehicles that had been stored in Burbank.
In Coral Gables, Florida, deliveries were scheduled hour-by-hour.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many outlets across the US were doing record volume. The one in Brooklyn, for example, was quiet Saturday morning.
Others were so busy that volunteers showed up to help staff out. Andrew Doane, who has a Model S sedan, Model X crossover and Model 3 car and is president of the Tesla Owners Club of the Mid-Atlantic region, mustered club members to pull shifts at delivery hubs in Virginia and Maryland.