Tesla Model 3 to Make Debut on March 31 in LA

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( San Jose Mercury News/TNS) —

The Tesla Model 3 is ready for a public viewing.

The unveiling of the Model 3, the electric vehicle maker’s $35,000 car, is slated for March 31 in Los Angeles, according to the Tesla Motors Club website. Tesla owners and fans began receiving invitations to the event last week.

Company CEO Elon Musk tweeted last month that the company would begin taking reservations for the Model 3 at Tesla stores on March 31 and online a day later. The down payment is $1,000, Musk said.

The Model 3 is expected to cost $35,000 before incentives, and unlike other Tesla vehicles, early models will not be offered in a premium package. Production and delivery of the Model 3 is expected to begin late next year. The car will be built at Tesla’s Bay Area factory.

The Model 3 is the company’s effort to reach beyond the luxury car market. The Palo Alto-based company shipped about 50,000 Model S and Model X vehicles last year, a record. The Model S has a base price of around $80,000, and the Model X is about $5,000 more.

Baird Equity Research said in a note to investors it expects the Model 3 will generate “significant demand” despite falling gas prices, because the automaker has built quality vehicles and a strong brand. The analysts expect the new sedan to compete favorably with the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.

Musk told analysts last month that the new vehicle would be about 20 percent lighter than the Model S and much less complex. If the new sedan hits the market with the success of the Model S, Musk said, “it doesn’t seem as if we will be demand-constrained.”

Matt McCormick, a realtor with a home in Mountain View, said he has been waiting for a more affordable Tesla. He’s concerned about the environment and he’d rather not worry about maintenance and gas prices.

He test-drove a Model S and loved it, although it cost about twice what he’s ever paid for a vehicle, he said.

McCormick plans to be at a Tesla store the first day they are taking reservations. “I’ve been talking about this for three years,” he said. “I’m there. Done.”

The enthusiasm spread through online forums, although skeptics noted that Tesla has run behind schedule for launches of its other vehicles. One post from a Massachusetts Tesla owner wrote that they would take the day off to place an order at their local Tesla store. “Not trying to be a door-buster,” the poster wrote, “but not going to wait too long, either.”

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