Elon Musk revealed Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model 3, the sedan the electric-car maker is counting on to expand its customer base and reach sustainable profitability, capping a day in which fans lined up out the door of stores to reserve their vehicles sight unseen.
The $35,000 Model 3 will have a minimum 215 miles (346 kilometers) range, and Musk said he’s “fairly confident” deliveries will begin in 2017. Tesla received more than 115,000 reservations in 24 hours, Musk said on stage at the company’s Hawthorne, California, design studio. Orders reached at least 134,000 within the following two hours.
The Model 3 is the linchpin of Tesla’s plan to reach beyond affluent buyers and make electric vehicles a significant part of the auto market. Much of the car’s platform is new, including the battery architecture and motor technology. Many of the executives who worked on the Model 3, including Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel and chief designer Franz von Holzhausen, have been part of the company’s leadership team for years.
The number of reservations exceeded some analysts’ estimates and is more than the roughly 107,000 vehicles Tesla has sold to date. At $1,000 each, the deposits would infuse the company’s coffers with at least $134 million. While the reservations are refundable, the outpouring suggests there will be plenty of demand for the company to work through once production gets under way.
Hardware for Tesla’s Autopilot features will be standard and the four-door sedan will seat five adults. Design features include one large, continuous piece of glass for the rear roof area to enhance visibility.
Model 3 faces an increasingly competitive landscape. General Motors Co. plans to release its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt at a similar price point later this year. The Model 3 likely will target buyers who also would consider small luxury sedans such as the Audi A4 and BMW’s 3 series.