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Musk’s State of the Art Affordable, Electric Car is Finally Here

In 2006, Elon Musk published a blog post outlining his long-term vision for Tesla. At the time, Tesla was still two years away from delivering the first Roadster, the company’s first product.

The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium,” Musk said. “Then, we’ll drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.

The base-level Tesla Model 3 will come standard with a rear-mounted single motor capable of launching the car from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in about six seconds. A high-performance dual-motor AWD configuration will also be offered, though Tesla has offered little in the way of performance stats for the car. Journalists who were offered the opportunity to ride in the car reported a high-performance feel that would be familiar to anyone who has been in a Tesla.

Tesla announced the driving range in the Model 3 to be “at least 215 miles.” Achieving a 215-mile range will require a pack, most likely, of about 50 kilowatt-hours. Some analysts believe that Tesla is already approaching a cost of $200 per kWh, which would put the Model 3’s pack at around $10,000. Tesla’s long-term goal is to use mass production at its Nevada-based factory to bring the cost well below this level.

A 240-volt Tesla home charging station costs $750, not including installation. We expect the Model 3 to use an on-board 10 kW charger, like its sibling vehicles. This means owners can add 30 or more miles of range for every hour of charging at home. With its sizable battery pack providing more than 200 miles of driving range—and the average commuter traveling about 40 miles per day—most drivers will find they have plenty of energy reserves on a daily basis.

In terms of longer distance highway trips, Tesla offers its current vehicle owners free access to around 400 Supercharger sites in the United States. These high-speed fast-chargers are capable of bringing a Model S battery pack to 80 percent of capacity in about 40 minutes. This opens up new possibilities for interstate travel for many EV drivers.

The Model 3 is slated to begin production in late 2017, but chances are you’ll be in for a much longer wait if you didn’t put down a $1,000 refundable deposit in the first hour after Tesla began accepting pre-orders. In just two weeks, Tesla registered more than 300,000 pre-orders—a level of interest that is truly unprecedented for a car that nobody has driven yet and barely seen.

Elon Musk’s stated goal is 500,000 deliveries by 2020, though many analysts doubt this projection in light of how long it has taken to for Tesla to reach peak production capacity in the past—as well as the company’s dependency on reaching full production at its battery factory.

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