Coming right on the heels of the landmark announcement that Tesla had “done it,” the company had created a fully electric family car for a middle-class budget, Tesla was forced to admit production wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be. As it turned out, they were way behind, but they were still taking pre-orders.

The company asked anxious customers to be patient, that they would solve their production problems. Now, it seems, they have. But it’s too little too late for some, apparently. Several media outlets are reporting that pre order cancellations have increased in recent weeks, and, worse, there have been more refunds than deposits lately.

What was the tipping point for Tesla? Some analysts believe it was because they didn’t get enough cars out to customers in time for said customers to take advantage of a hefty $7,500 tax credit. That tax incentive has now expired, and consumers can’t even buy the lowest priced Model 3 yet. So, the combination of losing the rebate and not being able to get the more affordable version of the car have combined to become a deal breaker for many customers.

How many orders are being canceled? As many as one-in-four, by some reports. Not a good development for a company that has already faced a string of difficult PR scenarios.

Speaking to the media, a Tesla representative denied that cancellations exceed the new orders coming in, but, so far, media sources are not retracting that element of the story. As for direct to consumer communication, Tesla is telling buyers fulfillment could take between one and nine months. That’s quite a window, and it’s tough to sell with enthusiasm.

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For Tesla, it’s possible some of the bloom may have fallen off the rose. Sales of the upscale Model S and Model X have been described as underwhelming, and the automaker is facing stiff competition from a reinvigorated luxury market.

So… if the novelty of an electric machine is wearing off, Tesla will have to shift to targeted PR to re-energize its brand. The company needs good news, and it needs happy customers, and it needs both very soon. Unfortunately, projections say there will be more bad news for Tesla before the year is done. The company is not expected to hit its much-promoted target of delivering 100,000 units by year’s end. To get there, they would need to engineer a massive increase in sales over the final five months of the year. It’s possible, but it will take a good dose of Tesla magic.

Customers want to be amazed and astounded by the new tech, and they want to be surprised at how accessible it actually is. Tesla built its brand by doing those things consistently and doing them well. They got people interested, now they just have to deliver. At the moment, that’s not going too well.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.