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Tesla Model 3 Unveil: What There Is to Know About the Super Secret Car

By Daniel Sparks – Mar 16, 2016 at 1:45PM

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The $35,000 electric car is finally almost here. Here are the details -- and how to order.

It's been Tesla (TSLA 2.08%) founder and CEO Elon Musk's plan from the start: build and sell lower-volume, higher priced cars to fund the development and eventual production of a more affordable, higher-volume fully electric car. And this month investors will finally see the fruition of the silicon-valley based company's super secret car: Tesla's Model 3.

An image Tesla teased on Twitter after announcing the details of its Model 3 event.

Invitations for the March 31 Model 3 unveiling event are out.

Event details 
The "intimate event" will take place at Tesla's Design Studio in Hawthorne, California -- the same location of the company's Tesla Energy event last year. At the event, the company will unveil a prototype of Model 3, which has a starting price of $35,000.

Fewer than 800 people will be in attendance, including 650 places reserved for current owners and their guests. The 650 spots reserved for owners are being allocated at random through a lottery for Tesla owners who submitted their email before noon PT on Wednesday, March 16. Invitations will go out on March 17 to Tesla owners selected in the lottery.

"Doors for the event will open at 7:00 PM and Musk will take stage around 8:30 PM for a presentation that will be live cast on our website," reads the invitation sent to press.

Some press received invitations, including yours truly.

In the press invitation, the company said press will be able "to take a quick spin in what we've been working on." It's not clear yet whether Tesla plans to offer drives to all attendees.

Reservations begin
As the company previously explained, reservations for Model 3 will begin on March 31. But the plan for taking reservations has changed slightly from what it was originally.

Tesla will first begin accepting reservations in stores on March 31 at 10:00 a.m. PT. But instead of online reservations beginning on April 1, as was the initial plan, they will instead begin as soon as the event starts.

Notably, the company has decided to give current Tesla owners priority in the Model 3 reservation queue because owners have "supported Tesla and our mission." This is in line with the company's constant narrative that Model 3 wouldn't be possible if the company didn't successfully sell its higher-priced vehicles early on to help fund Tesla's ongoing expansion to higher-volume production and greater economies of scale.

Tesla production at its factory in Fremont, California. Image source: Tesla Motors.

Further, Tesla has said it will initially prioritize highly optioned Model 3 orders when production begins. This will help the company moderate the impacts of the higher costs associated with building the first vehicles.

Tesla is requiring a $1,000 deposit for customers to reserve a Model 3.

What to expect
Highlighting the company's efforts to keep Model 3 secret, nothing beyond what Tesla has said has been discovered about the vehicle ahead of its unveil. But here's the little there is to know:

It's just a prototype. The production version will come later on, as the company doesn't actually plan to begin production of the vehicle until late next year. But don't expect the production version to be any worse; it's Tesla's policy to make the production version of its prototypes as good -- if not better -- than the prototypes it shows to the public.

It will be smaller than Model S, or about the size of an Audi A4.

Range will exceed 200 miles.

The body may be made of steel, instead of aluminum (like Model S) in order to save money.

Tesla won't likely reveal all the details about the vehicle at the event, as Musk indicated during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call that Tesla may opt to keep some of the car's features secret until it gets closer to production.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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