Tesla begins delivering 'Model 3' vehicle for the masses

Tesla Model 3

After many, many months of waiting, the first production Model 3s were given to their owners during a big ceremony at Tesla's Fremont, California factory on Friday evening.

Tesla Model 3 is a major step for the California-based company, and will be priced around 35,000 USA dollars each.

Despite its 2016 unveiling, Tesla CEO Elon Musk still had a few surprise announcements about the Model 3.

Tesla has been clear that the $35,000 price point is for a lean Model 3.

Tesla has also said it aimed to deliver a combined total of 47,000 to 50,000 Model S and Model Xs in the first half of this year, but did not give a figure for Model 3 target sales.

Musk describes the Model 3 production ramp as an S curve: slow growth in the beginning, followed by a rapid rise and a plateau.

After making electric cars the norm by launching expensive models like Model S and the Model X SUV, Tesla had officially amped up the game by launching a new model at $35,000 which has instantly grabbed the attention of many.

Volvo, which is owned by China's Greely Holdings, is taking it even further than its rivals, though, and plans to make all of its new cars either fully electric or hybrid beginning 2019. Getting a BMW 3 Series rival EV at that price point makes the Tesla vehicle a compelling case and this could be one of the reasons for the surge in interest. The compact Model 3 may not entice a global market that's increasingly shifting to SUVs, including all-electric SUVs from Audi and others going on sale soon.

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Production of the electric auto aimed at the broader market-with a starting price of $35,000 - will ramp up quickly, according to Musk, with 100 in August and 1,500 or more in September.

Mr Musk has said a simpler Model 3 design will reduce potential assembly-line problems.

"That is where we are for at least six months". That includes $3,000 for "full self-driving capability", which Tesla promises sometime in the future. Tesla hopes to produce 20,000 units in December.

While Tesla is producing vehicles "as fast as we can", thousands of Model 3 parts come from all over the world and a single issue with a single part creates manufacturing delays, Musk said. A long-range battery that allows 310 miles or range and a top speed of 140 mph is available for $9K.

The base model comes with an EPA-estimated range of 220 miles, a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph.

"This is one of Tesla's challenges - they've always launched in a white space before", said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst with Autotrader.

The company has taken more than 500,000 deposits for the Model 3, Musk said at a press conference early Friday, although he pleaded with reporters not to read too much into that number.

To meet the expected pre orders would require a serious scale up in production, something Musk himself described as "hell" but he was committed to going through that hell to get to the optimum levels.

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