California: Demand for Tesla Motors’ new lower-priced electric car surprised even the company’s chief executive yesterday as 198,000 people plunked down $1,000 deposits to reserve their vehicles.
“Definitely going to need to rethink production planning,” a surprised CEO Elon Musk said on his Twitter feed.
Musk unveiled the car on Thursday night at a design studio near Los Angeles. It starts at $35,000 and has a range of 215 miles per charge, which is far more than most people drive each day.
The orders came from across the globe even though the car isn’t scheduled for sale until late in 2017. But they could jeopardise a $7,500 US electric car tax credit that many buyers are counting on to reduce the price. The tax credits gradually phase out after a company hits 200,000 in US sales.
A Tesla spokeswoman wouldn’t say how many of the 198,000 orders came from the US.
Musk said Tesla had 115,000 orders since the company started taking them earlier in the day in Australia. There were long lines at Tesla stores from Hong Kong to Austin, Texas, reminiscent of crowds at Apple stores for early models of the iPhone. But the number kept rising yesterday.
“Thought it would slow way down yesterday, but Model 3 order count is now at 198k,” Musk tweeted during the afternoon, saying the wait time for the car is “growing rapidly.”
The Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla’s previous models, and its range is about double what drivers get from current competitors in its price range, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.
On Twitter, Musk estimated that the average selling price of a Model 3 with options would be around $42,000. So the sales would bring more than $8.3 billion in revenue to Tesla.
Prototypes looked like a shorter version of Tesla’s Model S sedan. The Model 3 has a panoramic glass roof and an elongated hood. Inside, it seats five and has the same large touchscreen dashboard as other Teslas. It also has Tesla’s suite of semi-autonomous driving features, including automatic lane changing and lane keeping. Musk said it will accelerate from zero to 60 in less than six seconds.