Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will begin rolling out its first mass-market electric car, the Model 3, on Friday, chief executive Elon Musk has announced.
Musk revealed on Twitter that production is starting two weeks ahead of schedule after receiving regulatory approval. The first 30 customers will receive the Model 3 at a handover party, he said.
He also said he expected production to ramp up quickly with 100 vehicles in August, a further 1,500 or more in September, and 20,000 per month by December.
Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 3 July 2017
Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 3 July 2017
The Model 3 will be priced at about US$35,000, making it much more affordable than the company’s other ranges that typically sell for at least US$90,000.
It marks Tesla’s first step as a producer of mass-market electric cars as the group has previously focused on the output of luxury vehicles in relatively small numbers. In 2016, Tesla produced about 85,000 vehicles.
Musk expects the Model 3 to boost Tesla’s production to 500,000 cars a year in 2018. The company already has about 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3.
Tesla first unveiled its Model 3 more than a year ago at an event at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The group has built a US$5bn factory in Nevada to produce the batteries for electric cars and earlier this year raised US$1bn through offerings of stock and debt.
Chinese internet firm, Tencent Holdings, bought a 5% stake in Tesla as part of the fundraising.
The fundraising was launched as the group continues to post quarterly losses. Telsa reported a US$397mln loss in the first quarter compared to a loss of US$282mln in the same period a year ago. Revenue, however, doubled to US$2.7bn.
Shares in Tesla have also risen about 67% this year on investor confidence about the Model 3. The group’s market capitalisation stands at about US$59bn, compared to US$52bn at General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) and US$44bn at Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F).