Excitement Builds for Tesla Model 3, Weeks Ahead of Official Launch

By · May 03, 2017

Tesla Model 3

The production version of the Tesla Model 3 is expected to be shown off on June 2 and 3 to Tesla VIPS and a select number of existing Model S and Model X owners, ahead of an official launch in July. Last week, attendees were invited by Tesla to “a factory tour, private Model 3 viewing, gourmet lunch, and a Q&A session with Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen.”

Some members of the press will be in attendance for the event at Tesla’s Fremont factory, so we should get the closest look yet of the production version of the Model 3. The first unveiling took place more than a year ago, but cameras were not allowed. Of course, unofficial images emerged—and spy shots continue to surface. In recent weeks, a black Tesla Model 3 was recently spotted at a Supercharging station in Cincinnati, and closer to home, the small $35,000 Tesla EV was seen in Cupertino and Gilroy.

By all indications, any changes in the last year have been minor. Fans are scouring new spy images for any previously unknown details, such as color selection, the presence of self-driving technology, and the operation of windshield wipers.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, maintains that the Model 3 is on schedule for the start of production in July. The first deliveries are expected before the end of 2017. That’s important because the company’s previous models experienced launch delays and early production problems.

Reuters reported last month that Tesla—in an effort to begin high-volume production by the fall—is skipping the step of using relatively cheap, prototype tools that would be scrapped once parts, such as doors and body panels, are confirmed to fit without gaps or seams. “He's pushing the envelope to see how much time and cost he can take out of the process,” said Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant at Oliver Wyman.

While the Model 3 appears to be on schedule for later this year, the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of customers who put down a $1,000 refundable deposit will wait well into 2018 to receive their vehicles. Tesla is hoping to produce 500,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2018.

An update about the Model 3 is expected later today when Tesla releases its first quarter 2017 financial results.

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