Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the first production model of the hotly anticipated Model 3, the company’s attempt to bring an electric car to the masses, is expected on Friday.
The first 30 Model 3 customers will receive their new Teslas on the 28th at a handover party, according to a second tweet from Musk. Production is then expected to grow exponentially: 100 cars in August, more than 1,500 by September, and then 20,000 per month by December.
The Model 3 is a critical test for Mr. Musk and his ambitious plan to turn Tesla into a producer of mass-market electric cars.
Until now, the company has produced luxury cars in relatively small numbers, typically selling them for $90,000 or more. In 2016, it made about 85,000 vehicles. General Motors, by contrast, produced more than nine million cars and light trucks.
The two current Tesla vehicles, the Model S and Model X, are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. The Model 3 will start at $35,000, making it the cheapest in Tesla’s range.
In order for Tesla to sell ten times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile. That's the Model 3. It's the future of the company.
To prepare for the addition of the Model 3 to its lineup, Tesla built a gigantic $5 billion factory in Nevada to produce batteries for the company’s electric cars.
Tesla has also bolstered its coffers. Earlier this year, it raised $1 billion through offerings of stock and debt. A Chinese internet giant, Tencent Holdings, acquired a 5 percent stake in the company.