USA – Electric car maker Tesla has unveiled its most affordable electric-car to date – the Model 3 sedan.
Set to revolutionise the electric car market more like Henry Ford’s Model T, the Model 3 will be fully introduced into the American market in 2018.
In a ceremony at Tesla’s factory near San Francisco, Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, handed over keys of the first 30 Model 3s off the automaker’s assembly line to a selection of 30 of its employees. The 30 employees become the first owners of a car that has already attracted half a million thousand dollar deposits before even going into full production.
Tesla is aiming to produce 5 000 units of the Model 3 per week by the end of 2017, increasing that number to 10 000 per week during 2018.
Some of those who have already placed orders could get their cars delivered as early as October 2017 but the majority will have to wait for 12 to 18 months.
With a price tag of $35 000, the Model 3 still has the looks of the pricier Model S which sells for more than $100 000.
At that price the Model 3 will be competing with General Motors’ battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt also going for $35 000. Another electric car the Model 3 will come up against is the Nissan Leaf priced at just over $30 000.
Quoted by The New York Times at a media briefing, Elon Musk said, “We finally have a great, affordable electric car, and it is absolutely what’s needed.”
Musk also revealed that the Model 3 comes with the necessary hardware to self-drive furthering Tesla’s quest to make increasingly autonomous vehicles. The car is also a milestone in Elon Musk’s vision of speeding up the world’s adoption of sustainable energy.
The first Model 3s will be powered by a standard battery which allows the car to go from 0-9.6km/h in 5.6 seconds with a range of 354km. Later versions of the car will have higher top speeds and batteries with a longer range of about 500km.
Tesla, which has been suffering billions of dollars in losses lately, recently reported a market value of $49bn thanks to investors who see the Model 3 potentially competing directly with petrol or diesel-powered cars.
If the half a million people who have paid deposits go on to buy the Model 3, the car could easily become one of the best-selling cars in the United States competing with big brands such as BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.
Promising to meet the already rising demand for the Model 3, Musk was quoted saying, “We’re going to do everything we can to make cars as fast we can. Demand is not a challenge here.”
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