Is Tesla about to sell a new iPhone? By the looks of the lines outside their stores across the nation it certainly appears so. That is of course not the case, but people are lining up to put down a $1,000 deposit for a car (Tesla Model 3) they have never seen ahead of tonight’s Part 1 launch. What is a Part 1 launch? I’ve no idea but Elon Musk does and he says it will be a two part event.
Pre-orders at Tesla locations all day today, online ordering tonight
While the aforementioned lines allowed potential customers to place a reservation on a car they’ve never seen, they will see it later tonight. With a limited amount of Model 3s being released next year, preference will still go to existing Tesla customers. Essentially, when these reservations will be filled is anyone’s guess.
Tonight’s launch is scheduled to begin at 8:30 Pacific time or 11:30 Eastern time for those on the east coast, but if on the east coast you’re more likely looking at near midnight as Tesla and Musk have a tendency to run a bit behind schedule but likely on purpose rather than simply being late.
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The Model 3 will be unveiled, again at 8:30 PDT, that the Tesla design studio in Hawthorne, California. Because of the anticipation behind the unveiling many will be watching the event live on Tesla’s website.
It’s a fair bit of hype for a car no one has ever seen outside of covered in a sheet.
What do we know about the Model 3?
Frankly, not much. We know that it’s likely to be priced around $35,000 in the United States with higher prices elsewhere in the world. U.S. consumers will also receive $7,500 in federal tax credits and depending on the state in which you live those credits could reach about $13,000.
We do know that it will be a 4-door sedan like the Model S but as much as 20% smaller.
No one suggests that it will have a range of anything less than 200 miles but some are calling for 250 miles and many expect the ability to upgrade to over a 300 mile range.
We’re certain that it won’t be totally autonomous, because quite frankly the world isn’t ready, but it will certainly include some autonomous features. Being Tesla, it’s also going to be fast…Tesla doesn’t play around in these regards and won’t start now. 0 to 60 miles per hour taking much more than four seconds would shock most in the automotive world.
Why is the Model 3 so important to Tesla?
Quite simply, Tesla loses money and only makes about 50,000 cars per year. The company and Musk have stated repeatedly that Tesla is hoping to be selling 500,000 units per year by 2020 and this mainstream price point offering is necessary to this goal becoming a reality. The company has also invested billions in making enough batteries to make this so with their Gigafactories. While they could sell these batteries, they would much rather use them at Tesla factories.
Musk has done a fantastic job making this event a true surprise and is pinning the success of the company on tonight and “Part 2.”
Barclays analyst Brian Johnson doesn’t think that Musk will be happy simply pulling back a sheet but that he will have a numb of units (10 to 20?) on hand for people to test drive. Johnson also believes that Musk will announce a crossover SUV tonight given present demand in that niche owing to cheap gas prices, which is of course doesn’t affect Tesla beyond losing potential customers by not having one to offer.
While the base price is expected to be around $35,000, Johnson believes the average model with selected options will reach closer to $47,000 with the most deluxe models reaching up to $70,000.
How many will sell this year?
If Sam Jaffe at Cairn Energy Research Advisors has got it right, Tesla and Musk will see 100,000 reservations within the next three months with 30,000 coming today. He expects that number to rise to 90,000 within a week and 250,000 sometime in the summer of 2017.
Long-term sales still have analysts scratching their heads with numbers ranging between 200,000 and 450,000 Model 3 sales in 2020. That’s a massive range, but I guess we’ll get a better understanding of what’s reasonable when they start scooting off production lines next year.
Whatever happens tonight, I will certainly be here tomorrow to tell you what we saw for good or for bad but being a Musk fan because of his successes as much as his personality I’m not betting against him tonight.
Tonight’s launch comes roughly a week before a massive launch for Musk’s SpaceX.
Ahead of tonight’s unveiling, Tesla stock picked up $2.88 on the day closing at $229.77 for a gain of 1.27% on the day in heavy trading.