When he isn't waxing poetic about floors and digging giant holes in the ground, Elon Musk runs an electric car company. On Monday afternoon, he tweeted the biggest news yet in Tesla's short history. The Model 3, a more affordable Tesla, will roll off the assembly line on Friday in the US.
Last week, Musk teased that he would have news early this week, and just before 4PM on Monday, he tweeted, "Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday."
The Model 3 will retail for $US35,000 ($45,504) and is Tesla's bid to expand the company beyond the luxury market. It's the primary reason Tesla shares have increased in value by 69 per cent* this year. Investors are hoping that the relatively low price will kick off the electric vehicle revolution that Tesla has been spearheading for years. It's possible that some of the first customers in the US will even be eligible for a $US7500 ($9751) tax credit. The average Tesla currently goes for $US90,000 ($117,009) and up. Australian pricing has not yet been announced, and according to Tesla's Australian website, new reservations for the Model 3 are expected to be delivered mid-2018 or later.
Sadly, if you can afford to buy a Model 3, you won't be able to for some time. According to Business Insider, about 400,000 pre-orders have already been placed. The company produced 85,000 cars in 2016. But the production rate is expected to increase. Musk tweeted that it will produce 100 Model 3s in August, and ramp that number up to 1500 in September. By December he wants to produce 20,000 per month.
While the luxury Teslas are known for their abundance of features and options, Musk told shareholders last month that Model 3 customers will only be able to choose colour and wheel type. Colour options are limited to red, silver, metallic grey and black.
The Model 3 can go from 0-100km in just under six seconds and it can travel at least 345km on a single charge. Tesla's biggest EV competitor in this price range is the Chevy Bolt that sells for $US37,500 ($48,754) and can travel 383km on one charge. But Tesla has its second-generation Enhanced Autopilot features to set itself apart. While it isn't a truly driverless car system, it's pretty close and future updates are expected to allow for fully autonomous driving.
Tesla doubled its revenue in the first quarter of this year, taking in $US2.7 billion ($3.5 billion). It still posted a loss of $US397 million ($518.8 million). While no one thinks that Musk is under any sort of strict deadline, shareholders have had high hopes for the Model 3 and it's safe to say that many could bail out if its launch doesn't go well.