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Instant Analysis: Tesla Motors to Begin Taking $1,000 Model 3 Reservation Payments on March 31

By Evan Niu, CFA - Feb 11, 2016 at 12:00PM

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The Model 3 is on track to begin production next year.

What happened?
Following its fourth-quarter earnings release last night, Tesla Motors (TSLA -1.79%) CEO Elon Musk has confirmed new details around the highly anticipated unveiling of the forthcoming Model 3. Tesla again reiterated that the $35,000 starting price tag remains on track, and that total is before factoring in any related tax credits or incentives. Production and launch also remains on track for late 2017. Musk also tweeted out some relevant details:

The company will begin taking reservation deposits on March 31 at its retail locations, and online the next day. Tesla is unveiling the Model 3 on March 31. Musk also added that unlike prior vehicles like the Model S and X, there will be no Signature series and all reservation payments will be $1,000.

Does it matter?
Much of Tesla's ambitious valuation metrics are predicated on the idea that the company can and will be able to produce mass-market affordable electric vehicles. That makes the Model 3 incredibly important to Tesla's future growth prospects that are being priced into the stock right now.

In fact, Tesla reiterating with confidence that everything remains on track is one reason why investors brushed aside the fact that Tesla lost a lot more money than expected during the fourth quarter. Tesla's adjusted net loss last quarter was $0.87 per share, compared to the consensus estimate of an adjusted net profit of $0.12 per share.

General Motors (GM -1.59%) has unveiled the new Chevy Bolt, which is expected to cost around $37,500 before federal tax credit and launches later this year. While General Motors will likely beat Tesla to the mass market, Tesla welcomes the competition as it helps promote the broader adoption of electric cars.

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