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Tesla Motors, Inc. Preorders Start Next Month

By Daniel Sparks - Feb 11, 2016 at 5:40PM

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Tesla's lowest cost vehicle yet is about to be unveiled. Here's what you need to know about the Model 3's debut next month.

While Tesla's (TSLA -0.97%) Model X SUV may be the Tesla vehicle getting all the attention today, it's likely that that narrative will soon shift to the company's lower-cost vehicle: Model 3. During Tesla's fourth-quarter update, the company confirmed the vehicle will be unveiled on March 31. And Musk just shared a few more details on Twitter.

Model S. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Here's the latest:

Model 3
Tesla's Model 3 is what the electric-car company has been working toward from the beginning. In light of Tesla's mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport, CEO Elon Musk's vision for the company has always been to take the gross profits from its higher cost, lower volume cars to fund an expansion that could eventually support production of a more affordable sedan -- Tesla's Model 3. And that's exactly what the company has been doing. Now we're closer than ever to finally seeing the vehicle for the first time.

Here's a list of the key things Tesla has said about the Model 3 so far:

  • Model 3 will have a starting price of $35,000.
  • It will be slightly smaller than the Model S, or comparable to the size of BMW's 3-Series.
  • It's likely to be the "most profound" car Tesla makes. 
  • The vehicle will have 200 miles or more of driving range.
  • The Model 3 will sport Tesla's autopilot hardware.
  • "[I]t's a completely new platform -- different technology base," Tesla chief technology officer J.B. Straubel said last October.
  • The company has most of its engineers working on the Model 3, Straubel also said.
  • The Model 3 platform is aimed at hundreds of thousands of cars per year, up from production of around 50,000 units in 2016.
  • Tesla will begin production on the Model 3 in late 2017.

While Tesla's fourth-quarter update didn't include any new information on the Model 3 besides a specific date for the unveil, Musk did share a few details shortly after the earnings release on Twitter about how Tesla will accept preorders for the vehicle.

First, Musk noted Tesla will begin to accept reservations for the $35,000 vehicle on the day of the event. And the reservations will require a $1,000 deposit.

Notably, 1,000 is considerably less than the $2,500 and $5,000 Tesla requires to reserve a Model S or X -- though this makes sense since these vehicles start at $70,000 and $80,000, respectively.

The CEO also said that there will be no Signature Series version of the model. For Model S and X, Tesla made special highly optioned cars, called Signature Series, in limited quantities and delivered them first. But these customers had to put down larger deposits than other customers.

Responding to a question from a Twitter user about whether preorders will only be in the U.S. or across Tesla's global markets, Musk responded, "global."

Finally, Musk said the company will share more details on the Model 3 unveil "in coming weeks."

If the Model 3 is as compelling as Tesla suggests it is, the vehicle would catapult Tesla from delivering around 50,000 vehicles per year in 2015 to as many as 500,000 cars per year by 2020. You can bet investors will be watching the unveil in March closely.

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