Tesla Referral Program gets revamp – but still only for solar, so far

Tesla has revamped its referral program in North America, shifting to a system allowing current Tesla owners to use their Tesla referral code to earn “loyalty points” that can be spent on various Tesla products.

The newest iteration referral program gives “credits” to both the buyer and referrer of a product, with a scaling amount of credits depending on the product purchased. The credits are only given to both buyer and referrer if the buyer is not a current Tesla customer – if they are a current customer, then they will earn their own “loyalty credits” but won’t be able to use a referral code.

Tesla’s referral program page lays out the specifics, with further information available in the Tesla app’s “loot box” section.

So far, the only products that qualify for credits are Tesla solar panels and the Tesla solar roof, both of which give 6,000 credits each.

The page does say “earn credits upon delivery of your car or activation of your solar system,” which suggests that cars may be added to the page at some point. We’re not sure how many credits they will generate if they do get added to the program. While Tesla’s referral program was ended last year for cars, cash rewards for solar referrals continued and were active up until yesterday, when Tesla revamped the program to give out credits instead of cash.

tesla referral code

Those credits can then be spent on other Tesla products, though they expire after 12 months if not spent. The products are a selection from those on Tesla’s online shop, including both useful accessories for Tesla owners and some of the more “meme” products like Tesla’s short shorts or bizarre sipping glasses.

Here’s a complete list of products available:

The prices don’t seem to map proportionally to the prices of the real-life items (for example, the Wall Connector is $400, and J1772 Wall Connector is $550), but it looks like the value of a single solar roof referral is about the same as it was in the previous version of the program – in the range of a few hundred dollars.

We’ve expected something to happen with the referral program for a little while now, reporting last year that Tesla was considering changes to the program and then finding out last month that Tesla had updated the mobile app with new referral program info.

Last month, Tesla launched a new “points rewards” program in China, which turns out to be very similar to these new changes to the referral program. China also gets quarterly and annual raffles, which seem to be missing from the North American program. And Europe does not seem to have a similar referral program update as of this moment.

Tesla originally spawned the referral program after requests from Tesla fans who wanted to be rewarded for the number of friends they had converted to driving electric. In the early days of Tesla and EVs, word of mouth from EV fans was very effective at selling cars, particularly given the number of questions that prospective buyers might have about a new technology.

The referral program started off with $1,000 in “Tesla credits” for each use of an owner’s Tesla referral code. Those credits could be used on service and Tesla products, and then later Tesla started to offer various prizes like wall connectors, wheel sets, Tesla-branded luggage, and even sending your photos into space. It was modified many times, but eventually got a little out of control and Tesla killed off the program after they ended up promising over 80 next-gen Roadsters to top referrers.

The program was then scaled back to offer 1,000 free Supercharger miles to buyers and referrers, and most recently only consisted of a cash reward for solar roof referrals.

As of now, it looks like Tesla has mostly just modified the existing program of cash rewards for solar installations, but it’s clear that they have more planned given the “car” verbiage on their referral pages.

Electrek’s Take

This is interesting timing, considering Tesla has recently drastically scaled back its solar operation. We’ve received several reports of projects being cancelled and Tesla claiming they are shutting down operations, even in some popular markets, just in the last few weeks. So it seems like an odd time to revamp a system for solar referrals.

But this isn’t just about solar, is it? It seems clear that the program is intended to include cars at some point; they’re just not on there yet.

The introduction of the referral program in China coincided with a price drop in the region, suggesting that Tesla was looking to shore up demand after a few years of continual price hikes across the lineup and around the globe.

While we haven’t seen a price drop in the US (and don’t necessarily expect one), this could still be a way that Tesla is prepping to shore up demand on certain products, by adding them to the referral program when or if they see a need.

As for how we feel about it – this does seem a little more robust than the previous programs. Instead of a maze of ever-changing prize tiers, some of which were worth large amounts and took forever to deliver and some of which never materialized, we now have a clearer list of readily available products that have some monetary value but not enough to make referrers feel like total shills when recommending Tesla vehicles.

One of the issues with the original program, in my mind, was that it turned previously innocent EV evangelism into a method for personal profit, thus making it seem that word-of-mouth advocacy was being done for monetary gain, rather than honest recommendations from EV fans. It threatened to make EV fans seem like commissioned car salesman rather than genuine and honest advocates.

Now, there’s still a sense of monetary gain here, but it’s more like a perk – a few T-shirts, some supercharger miles, or a spare charging connector for each use of a referral code. It’s not as overwhelming as the idea that someone could earn a several thousand dollar Powerwall system or potentially even a supercar after hawking a Tesla to their friends.

So it seems like an improvement, but we’ll have to wait to see how it all shakes out, and whether Tesla adds other products to the program.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@electrek.co