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Tesla unveils its Model 3 sedan in bid for mass appeal

Tesla’s most affordable option, the highly anticipated Model 3, can do 0-60 in under 6 seconds and get at least 215 miles per charge.

The Model 3, Musk said, will be priced at $35,000, about half the cost of its two current models, the Model S sedan and Model X crossover. The car is considered critical to Tesla’s success, its first attempt to lure average car buyers — not just the rich —  to electric vehicles.

The car’s profile is similar to the Model S, lacking any adornment on the front where a grille would normally be. Musk says the car has trunks both front and rear. The extra space is due to its lack of a gas engine since it has only batteries and electric motors. Inside, the car has a huge screen on the center console like other Teslas, though it is slightly smaller than on the Model S or X. It is also distinguished by a huge glass roof over both the front and rear seats, which Musk says affords better headroom.

Experts say they expect different versions of the Model 3, some fancier than others. In the process, it could experience price creep.

“Tesla has a history of introducing a vehicle with a reasonably low price and then selling versions that are much more expensive,” says Jack Nerad, executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement. “There was no mention of EV’s major Achilles’ heel — recharge time. The 215-mile range and low recharge times make EVs  (electric vehicles) impractical for many buyers.”

Initial reaction to the car appeared favorable. After lines formed outside Tesla showrooms around the country where customers could make reservations for a refundable $1,000, Musk announced the figures had hit 115,000 by the time the car was revealed. Later, a counter behind the cars on the stage kept ticking away, hitting 137,760 about an hour after the reveal.

At 100,000 pre-orders, Tesla will have amassed $3.5 billion in pre-orders and “will set the all time record for any consumer tech company,” wrote Trip Chowdhry, analyst for Global Equities Research, in a note before the unveiling. Musk says Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 cars a year, up from about 50,000 last year. To accomplish the goal, Tesla is building what Musk says will be the largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world outside Reno, Nev.

Musk says Model 3 cars will start delivery to customers in late 2017.

In another plus for the Model 3, Musk says it will have free access to Tesla’s Supercharger network, which will be expanded. Superchargers are high speed recharging units, both in cities and on major highways.


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