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article imageTesla Motors unveils Model 3 — Electric cars for ordinary buyers

By Nathan Salant     Apr 2, 2016 in Technology
Hawthorne - Thousands of people lined up outside Tesla Motors dealerships across the country Thursday as its lower-priced Model 3 went on sale for the first time.
Three prototypes of the new sedan, priced at $35,000 before government tax incentives, went on display Thursday although the actual vehicles probably will not be built until next year, 2018 or even later.
Tesla doesn't even plan on starting its Model 3 production line in Fremont, Calif., until late 2017, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Still, potential purchasers lined up for blocks outside Tesla showrooms in U.S. states such as California, Texas and Arizona, and overseas to put down $1,000 deposits on the new car, whenever it gets delivered.
More than 100,000 orders were received at showrooms and on the website by 7 p.m. Thursday, the newspaper said.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Thursday that the Model 3 was the culmination of years of work trying to bring electric vehicle technology to the middle class.
Sustainable vehicles, he said, were the key to fighting global warming.
“Even if you buy no options at all, this will still be an amazing car,” Musk said.
“You will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000,” he said.
The Model 3 unveiled Thursday is shorter than Tesla's three earlier models — the limited-edition Roadster, the Model S sedan and the Model X crossover SUV — but is the first one priced at less than $50,000.
Prices for the Model X, for example, range from $80,000 to $115,500, depending on the size of the battery pack.
Musk said the Model 3 would be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, get at least 215 miles on a charge, seat five comfortably and include the hardware necessary to drive themselves.
With tax incentives, the car could sell for as low as $25,000, the newspaper said.
The Model 3 appears to be the culmination of Musk's ambition in starting Tesla, to develop the technology to build an electric car at a price middle classes could afford.
“We needed to figure out how could we, as a tiny company with very few resources, actually make a difference,” Musk said.
“And the only way to do this was to start small,” he said.
Musk said shifting from fossil fuel to electric cars was absolutely necessary to fight global warming.
“It’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport," he said.
"This is really important for the future of the world.”
Musk's success with Tesla has not gone unnoticed in the automobile industry, where many brands have already incorporated electric and hybrid cars into their vehicle lineups.
General Motors plans to building its Chevy Bolt later this year, promising a 200-mile range and $37,500 starting price before tax incentives, and BMW and Audi have their own electric cars on the market and are developing more, the newspaper said.
Musk also is credited with starting PayPal, now the leading online money transfer site, and is CEO of SpaceX, a private rocket and space capsule builder.
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