It’s not the in-store debut of a new Apple iPhone, but it sure looks like it. Thousands of fans of Tesla Motors have been camping out in front of the company’s retail outlets for the past 24 hours, hoping to be among the first on Thursday to lay down $1,000 downpayments for the Model 3, Tesla’s $35,000 electric car due to hit the streets in early 2018.
Starting at 8:30 p.m., local time, in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, Tesla Motors’ outspoken futurist CEO and co-founder Elon Musk and a few hundred of his disciples will witness the sheet pulled off of a car that has been nearly a decade in the making, the reason Tesla exists.
The uninvited can participate by visiting Tesla’s live stream of the event here.
— Electrek.Co (@ElectrekCo) March 31, 2016
While the car is still priced in the entry-level luxury range it’s less than half the average price people are paying for Tesla’s Model S sedan and Model X utility vehicle.
Originally code-named Bluestar, the car has always been part of Musk’s vision of convincing the world to ditch gasoline engines and adopt cleaner electric vehicle technology. In the early days, Musk touted the possibly of an electric car costing less than $30,000, but the final product is ringing in at a higher base price. Still, it’s in the price range of what someone shopping for a gas-drinking BMW 3-Series or Audi A4 would consider.
While we don’t know much about the car, a few unconfirmed details from the auto blogs suggest a base range of more than 200 miles per charge with a battery upgrade that adds 100 miles and about $20,000 to the price. This would be in line with the pricing structure of Tesla’s other models.
It will include some of the core features that define Tesla, including a dashboard touch screen (size unknown), performance tweaks through over-the-air firmware updates and the sensors that will allow consumers to pay extra for adaptive cruise control and automatic lane changing and parking. A big unknown is if the company will offer all-wheel drive with an optional extra electric motor.
Like most stock, shares in Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) plunged in February, sending its year-to-date price down more than 8 percent. But as the hype has grown around the Model 3, the company’s stock has rallied by nearly 24 percent in the past 30 days, well above the broader Standard & Poor’s 500’s 4 percent growth in the same period. This despite a series of cautious notes in recent weeks from analysts about the overvaluation of the company’s share price.
Consider it the Model 3 bump.