Tesla’s new Model 3 car on display in Washington. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

More than 450,000 people have preordered the Tesla Model 3, the company’s first mass-market sedan.

On Friday morning, dozens of D.C.-area reservation holders — many of whom paid $1,000 last year to reserve the vehicle — came face to face with the car for the first time at Tesla’s showroom in CityCenterDC.

Despite months of production issues that have stalled the vehicle’s rollout, Tesla has begun delivering the Model 3 to showrooms across the country in recent days. Reservation holders received an email this week inviting them to see the car in person.

This wasn’t a Stars Wars premiere or an iPhone launch. Nobody dressed up like Elon Musk or pitched a tent outside the showroom overnight to get an enviable place in line. But the enthusiasm and the curiosity — not to mention the sense that they had gained entry to a futuristic car club — was apparent.

The crowd was a mixture of young and old, with veteran electric car owners waiting in line alongside curious newbies, each with their own reason for purchasing the Model 3. For some it was the desire to own cutting edge technology; for others it was the promise of never having to shell out money at a gas station again.

For Tesla customers like Arjun Sharma — an 18-year-old college student who has spent months poring over news about the car online — Friday’s sneak peek proved that the car is worth the wait.  

“This technology is brand new, and my generation is all about technology, and there’s no other car like Tesla,” said Sharma, who said he expects his car to be ready near the end of 2018 or early 2019. “I feel like my entire generation wants one.”

“I looked at so many pictures, but seeing it in person is just so different,” he added. “It’s a dream come true.”

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