Following months of anticipation, Elon Musk has finally unveiled the first glimpse of an actual Model 3. Tesla has been working on a limited production run of the Model 3, its new electric vehicle that is expected to be available to the public at the end of the month.
On Saturday, Musk tweeted pictures of the first Model 3 to roll off the automaker's assembly line in Fremont.
Musk tweeted that the rights to the first Model 3 were purchased by Ira Ehrenpreis, founder and managing partner of venture capital firm DBL Partners.
But Ehrenpreis "gave those rights to me as my 46th bday present," Musk tweeted.
With its $35,000 base price, the Model 3 has been touted as a cheaper and more consumer-friendly version of the luxury Model S. The new sedan is smaller but is expected to feature the same self-drive hardware and will have a range of about 215 miles.
The company is expected to make 30 Model 3 vehicles by the end of the month. Production is set to ramp up to 20,000 vehicles a month by December, for a rate of 240,000 a year.
At least 380,000 people have put down refundable $1,000 deposits for Model 3s, but Tesla hasn't publicly updated that number since early last year.
"It matters to us that you took a risk on a new car company," Musk tweeted earlier this month. "We won't forget."
The first round of customers will have only two choices for the Model 3, Musk said at a recent shareholders meeting: color and wheel size.
The billionaire entrepreneur has taken great care in rolling out the new vehicle, vowing not to repeat the mistakes of the Model X SUV when it debuted in 2015.
The Model X SUV was available in multiple configurations from the start and was beset with manufacturing and quality problems.
The completion of the first production Model 3 follows a rough week for the Palo Alto-based carmaker.
The company reported that worldwide deliveries for the Model S and Model X SUV came in at the low end of expectations for the first half of the year. Tesla blamed the shortfall on production problems at its Nevada battery plant, not on any loss in demand for its cars.
Still, investors punished the stock, which at one point was down nearly 20% from its historic high of $383.45 two weeks ago, when it had surpassed General Motors as America's most valuable car company.
It didn't help that Volvo announced plans to have electric motors in all of its vehicles starting with the 2019 model year, making it the first traditional automaker to do so.
But as production loomed on the Model 3, the stock recovered and has gained nearly $2 a share in after-hours trading since Friday's market close.
© 2017 Los Angeles Times under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Tesla/Elon Musk Twitter page.
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