Tesla Launches Highly Anticipated Model 3 (NASDAQ:TSLA)

Today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is due to unveil the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market car. The new model will be the automaker’s most affordable electric vehicle to date. At an expected price tag of about $35,000, it is about half the price of Tesla’s current sedan, the Model S. The Model 3 is slated to hit the assembly line in late 2017.

The new model will compete directly with Acura, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other popular luxury brands. People were lining up outside dealerships 48 hours early to put down a $1000 reservation deposit on the new cars. These early birds will still be behind thousands of current Tesla owners who have priority over everyone and can reserve their cars online.

The Model 3 is the third vehicle in the Tesla lineup. Besides the Model S, Tesla recently introduced the Model X crossover. The Model 3 will test whether the American car market is ready to make the leap to electrics. Tesla will have to ramp up production of the cars and their battery packs if they hope to sell at the mass-market level.

Tesla has been reporting quarterly losses as it positions itself for higher production. Tesla lost $114 million, or 87 cents a share, in the fourth quarter on an adjusted basis and $320 million, or $2.44 a share, on an unadjusted basis. Tesla shares have been holding between a 52-week high of $286 and low of $141 a share. Midday Wednesday, they were trading at $226.60 a share, a drop of 1.1 percent.

Tesla says it delivered 50,580 cars last year from its plant in Fremont, Calif., to sell worldwide. Tesla believes that it will be selling 500,000 cars a year by 2020.

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