I think the first 100k people (the ones who got in line at midnight) will put up with a bit of a wait. They are excited and fan boys and know what they are getting into and expect some waiting. Elon himself is claiming 2017 but every regular person is saying 2018 / 2 years. So that's good because we know he has an issue meeting timelines.
But if Q2 2018 comes and goes and they're barely being delivered, people are going to be pissed, and rightly so.
Additionally, for the most part, people buying 100k cars have the means to have another car, have a lease for a year, etc. I also don't know how many committed 100% to the Tesla in 2014 or 2015. I know a lot of folks bought it as a second or third car (for families) and it happened to become their favorite and daily driver. I, and others, don't have this luxury.
Another difference between the people buying these cars are the Model S and X are mostly being bought by upper-middle-class homeowners. In a way, me reserving a Tesla means I have to get a house.. or decide were going to buy into this building or find another one that has electric car chargers. We have 3 chargers in our parking lot. I know they are free for people who pay for parking (it's mixed valet / paid parking / resident parking). I don't know if it's extra if you use it every night. I also know that LADWP installed them with a few others in DTLA (along with ones in their own lot) to encourage more electric vehicles on the road. I don't know how many other apartment complexes in the 1k-3k/month range have EV chargers.
I'm assuming that in 2 years I will (1) have 35k to spend on a car, (2) be renting or have a downpayment on a house (preferably with a yard). Those are two pretty big and ambitious, though not completely out of reach, assumptions. And a think a lot of people are in this same boat.
I saw another tweet that was like: "Why did I reserve? Because in 2 years I'll either have a kid or money or, hopefully, both." There are a lot of people like me and random tweeter who are just starting to make real money, just starting to look to purchase our first "real" car (meaning, a car that you can be proud of, not a hand-me-down or whatever $2k clunker you could afford), just starting to think about the future and "settling down", and Elon Musk gives us a car at a very reasonable price that is exciting, new, electric, and amazing. Yup. Let's do that. No brainer.
Then, there are people like my mother who even though they could probably figure out a way to afford a Model S, refuses to spend that type of money on a car. She's owned exactly 3 cars in my life: a something, a honda minivan (1994), and her suburu outback (2005). None of those were 30k. She's been looking at new cars for at least 4 years now but there is nothing on the market that strikes her fancy enough to actually convince her to go thru the hassle of buying. Again, this car delivers what she wants and the fact she literally got to sit on the couch on her fucking iPhone to reserve one is a huge component of this. It's a no brainer.
Now, let's imagine for a moment that the Telsa 3 didn't exist. What would I do?
I would probably lease a cheap-as-fuck car that would last me a few years until I could afford a real car. Then I would buy a real car. But I refuse to spend 35k what's currently around (I assume this isn't going to change much in 3-4 years), so I would probably end up get a 3-4 year old, single owner car with <50k miles on it. Probably a certified lease or something. Aiming for sticker of 20k, negotiate to 16-18k. And it would take a big thing (ie: my current car dies, my lease is up, etc) In order to get me to even look and test-drive cars because it's a fucking pain in the ass. Since there is no car that will reasonably excite me as much as Tesla has, the price is going to have to go way down. The problem with the Volt/Bolt isn't that it's electric, and the problem with the Volt/Bolt isn't fixed because it's electric. It's that it's the same fucking car Chevy has been delivering for 60 years but electric, some "MyLink infotainment system" features, and and a 35k price range. (PS: The fact that they are touting a "MyLink infotainment system" alone shows you how out of touch they are with my generation.) The Bolt looks more like a Vibe or a VW Golf than anything Chevy, actually. Regardless, it's stupid. Electric cars are cool and provide benefits, but not 15k worth of benefits. I would NOT buy a volt/bolt @ 35k. Period. End of conversation. I would rather drive a truck that gets 10mpg for 20k. Seriously.
The Bolt has an even bigger issue: it looks like an electric car. For the love of christ, the reason people bought up the Lexus SUV hybrid and Ford hybrids in droves was because it didn't SHOW OFF that it was a hybrid like the Prius. Stop making electric cars look like dumb fucking toasters. BMW is the worst offender, BTW.
That is a 12 year old boys idea of "cool."
Tesla on the other hand has delivered a stunning looking car, with all the latest tech, that rethinks what cars are, with cool novelties like handles that slide in and out and a 21" touchscreen, that you can buy without going on a 4 year mission, that excites people, and all at 35k. My friend who has a 2014 Model S described the first time he sat in his Tesla like this: "It was like the first time I used my iPhone. It was pretty and new and shiny and all that...but then it just works. There are tiny little things that just work that I never would complain about if they weren't there, but together it makes the car so much more than any other car I've ever owned.
Other companies should be scared. Scared of how you buy these cars. Scared of the fanboys. Scared of everything that Tesla's represents. Scared that every generation is into this car. Scared of people realizing that every car that's been around forever is like every flip phone ever created. You can bedazzle it and make it gold or throw a Lexus sticker on it, but the iPhone still blows it away.
If nothing else, I hope that Musk takes a similarly ridiculous that picture so that it can be referenced in 20 years. I vote for one of him in a turtleneck in the frunk.