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Tesla Model 3 Reservations Begin This Month -- What You Need to Know

By Daniel Sparks - Mar 1, 2016 at 2:55PM

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But you'll have to visit a Tesla store to get your reservation in on the first day.

For Tesla Motors' (TSLA 1.24%) investors March is one of the most important months in the company's history. It's the month investors will finally get to see Tesla's Model 3. The vehicle, which will have a starting price 50% lower than Model S, is the culmination of the automaker's efforts to reach the point it can offer a compelling fully electric vehicle at a more affordable price point. Here's what there is to know about Model 3 and the company's planned unveiling this month.

Tesla Model S Supercharging. Image source: Tesla Motors.

The unveil
Investors have known for some time Tesla would be unveiling its $35,000 Model 3 in March, but it wasn't until the company released its fourth-quarter shareholder letter on Feb. 10 that a specific date was shared. Tesla will unveil Model 3 on March 31.

After sharing the date of the vehicle's unveiling in the letter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk followed up with some more information on Twitter, noting reservations for the vehicle would be accepted globally on March 31 -- but only in stores. Buyers would need to wait until April 1 to place any orders for the car online, he said.

Tesla retail store.

Reservations will require a $1,000 deposit. concluded, after reaching out to Tesla retail stores concerning the volume of inquires they are receiving about Model 3 reservations, that stores "are expecting waiting lines to get a reservation in the morning."

It's not clear yet exactly how much information Tesla will share about its Model 3 -- or even what exactly it will show -- when it unveils the vehicle later this month. When one analyst asked Musk during the company's most recent earnings call whether the company would show the full vehicle or not during the unveil, Musk responded with hesitation.

"We are trying to decide whether we should throw the cards or keep a few cards close to the vest. I haven't made the decision yet," Musk said.

While the company is unveiling the vehicle in March, Tesla doesn't plan to begin production and deliveries of the important vehicle until late 2017.

What we know about Model 3
Model 3 will be a slightly smaller vehicle than the Model S. Tesla executives have likened it to the approximate size of an Audi A4. Further, to be able to sell it at a lower cost, Tesla has said the vehicle will be about 20% lighter than Model S and be built with ease of manufacturing in mind.

Tesla factory in Fremont, California. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Importantly, Tesla has said the vehicle will have over 200 miles of range. This puts the vehicle squarely in competition with General Motors' upcoming Chevy Bolt, which is scheduled to begin deliveries later this year.

Model 3 will probably be the "most profound" car the company has made yet, Musk said recently. 

While Musk has said the vehicle's features won't likely rival Model S's, Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel recently noted that people may still be surprised about all the features Model 3 includes.

Tesla hopes Model 3 will serve as a significant catalyst for the company's sales, helping it grow annual deliveries from a forecast for 80,000 to 90,000 in 2016 to as many as 500,000 annually in 2020.

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