HAWTHORNE , Calif., March 31 (UPI) — Tesla stepped into the broader consumer car market on Thursday with the unveiling of the Model 3, a fast sedan with a sticker price of $35,000.
Company founder Elon Musk told the enthusiastic crowd in Hawthorne, Calif. that at least 115,000 pre-orders had been received on the first day, which could translate into a $4 billion dollar payday for the electric car company.
“With any new technology, it takes multiple iterations,” Musk said at the press event. “And economies of scale before you can make it affordable. The Model S and X made the Model 3 possible. So to all of you who bought an S or an X, thanks for paying for this.”
The Model 3 is a sleek sedan that goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, but also seats five with cargo trunks in the front and back. It carries an EPA rating of at least 215 miles per charge and also has a five-star safety rating in every category, Musk said.
The sedan is a departure from the price point on the Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X, which cost up to $133,000 depending on batteries and other options. The all-electric car will compete with electric vehicles from General Motors, BMW and other established brands.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has said he intends to produce 500,000 cars per year by 2020, five times as many the Hawthorne, Calif., company has made in the past 10 years.
The rollout was an opportunity for Tesla to change some negative publicity it recently received regarding reliability issues and internal problems leading to a short supply of inventory, as well as a general lack of publicity regarding electric vehicles in light of the drop in oil prices and corresponding lower gasoline prices. Tesla stock fell 15 percent in the last six months of 2015.
The attention also prompted increased interest in a sticking point in electric vehicle development: the dearth of charging stations nationwide. The way conventional cars require access to gasoline filling stations, electric vehicle sales need places to fill up with electricity. A successful rollout of an electric car for the masses could have the same impact Apple’s iPhone had on smartphones, initiating a new category of personal technology.
“They need to do it right, and they need to do it on time,” Kelly Blue Book industry analyst Tony Lim told The Washington Post. “If they don’t do it right, I don’t think they’re going to have another shot at it.”