FREMONT, Calif. — Until Friday, Tesla had released few details about its newest vehicle and its pricing structure — one that would lower the entry barrier into the company’s luxury niche. But Musk was more specific on Friday night, when the company made its first deliveries of the new car.
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk officially unveiled the Model 3’s first 30 production vehicles — all for Tesla employees — in front of several hundred company workers and journalists amid a roar of applause at a factory in Fremont, Calif. He spent the next 30 minutes discussing his vision for Tesla over the next year and beyond.
The Model 3 — touted as the first “mass-market” electric car — will start at $35,000, reach 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and have a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
A Model 3 with every premium option would cost about $60,000, according to the latest details released by the company. The car has a range of 220 miles to 310 miles and has been designed to “have the highest safety ratings in every category,” the company said.
The vehicle, which seats five, is available in six colors, including two shades of silver, blue, white, red and black. Colors other than black will cost buyers additional $1,000. The long-range battery that allows for up to 310 miles of travel on a single charge and a top speed of 140 mph will cost an extra $9,000. Tesla said the Model 3’s standard battery provides a 220-mile range.
The Model 3 is equipped with eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors that assist the vehicle in avoiding collisions and performing automatic emergency braking.
The vehicle has the ability to support Enhanced Autopilot, which is Tesla’s second-generation Autopilot system.
For $5,000, Enhanced Autopilot gives the vehicle the ability to match its speed to traffic conditions, automatically change lanes, transition between freeways and self-park. For another $3,000, the Model 3 will be ready for “full self-driving capability,” an option that will become available in the future and makes the car “capable of conducting trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat,” the company said.
Model 3 designers eliminated knobs and controls from the car’s dashboard, allowing the driver to control much of the car from a 15-inch touchscreen display to the right of the driver. That display includes GPS mapping and the speedometer.
Rebates in a handful of states could lower the price of a Model 3 for eligible customers. There is also a $7,500 federal income tax credit. But that tax credit only lasts until the company reaches 200,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States, and Tesla has already sold more than 100,000 vehicles.
The first 30 Model 3s were given Friday to employee buyers who can provide Tesla with feedback, according to Heavy.com.
The company hadn’t released Model 3 order numbers since May 2016, when it said that 373,000 reservations had been placed. On Friday, Musk said the Model 3 had more than 500,000 advance reservations. Deliveries to that broader public are scheduled to start in the fall of 2017.
Customers who order a Tesla now can expect to receive the car by the end of 2018, the company said.
“Frankly, we’re going to be in production Hell,” Musk said Friday. “As the saying goes, if you’re going through Hell, keep going!”
Musk said Model 3 production would slow gradually before climbing rapidly to 20,000 vehicles per month by the end of 2017, and 50,000 a month by the end of next year. It’s a steep increase in production — making 500,000 vehicles in a year, as Tesla has vowed to do, would mean increasing its 2016 production almost sixfold, according to Reuters.
“Tesla has burned through over $2 billion in cash so far this year ahead of the launch,” Reuters reported. “A troubled Model 3 launch could heighten the risks for the company, while a steady delivery of Model 3s could generate a stream of cash that would allow Tesla to avoid going again to the capital markets to fund its operations.”
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.
Production problems hampered the launches of Tesla’s Model S sedan and the Model X sport utility vehicle and led to a decline in shipments on two occasions over the past year.
The company enters crucial phase as it seeks to meet its ambitious production schedule for the Model 3. Musk told Business Insider that the company has learned from the challenge of rolling out previous vehicles and designed the Model 3 to be as minimalistic and easy to build as possible.
“We learned a significant amount of lessons with 3,” he said. “There’s nothing in that car that doesn’t need to be there. Everything has a compelling reason.”