First release candidate Tesla Model 3 electric car, from video tweeted by Elon Musk, March 2017Enlarge Photo
With photos of Tesla Model 3 test cars now popping up regularly, it seems likely that some number of Tesla's lower-priced all-electric sedan will roll off the production lines within the next few months.
The big question is when the company will start delivering them beyond the board members, investors, friends, and passionate owners who will get the first few hundred Model 3s to roll off the Fremont line.
Beyond that, how quickly can Tesla ramp up production of reliable, high-quality Model 3s to start chewing away that the 373,000 deposits it said last year it had taken?
It's a question the entire industry will be watching.
We decided to poll our Twitter followers on it, asking them how many Tesla Model 3 electric cars they thought the company would have delivered by December 31 of this year.
The results, frankly, surprised us.
How many Tesla Model 3s will be delivered by Dec 31?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) June 12, 2017
Slightly over half the poll respondents (53 percent) picked the highest response available: "over 10,000".
The remainder split somewhat equally among the other three, less optimistic, results.
Another 13 percent chose the next-lowest response, "5,001 to 10,000" cars within six and a half months.
A like number, 14 percent, chose "2,501 to 5,000."
1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012Enlarge Photo
And one in five respondents proved the most pessimistic, saying that Tesla would only deliver "0 to 2,500" Model 3s by December 31.
As always, industry opinion is split among the Tesla bulls and bears, the Elon Musk acolytes and long-time industry skeptics.
But we'd suggest that within the next six weeks, perhaps as much as the next 10 weeks, we're likely to see some sort of publicity event marking the first "production" Model 3 to be delivered off the line.
Following that, the Model 3 delivery numbers issued by Tesla will be eagerly pored over by fans and skeptics alike.
Make a note of this article for December 31—or, more accurately, for January 2, 3, 4, or 5, when Tesla will issue final 2016 delivery numbers.
While clearing away the New Year's Eve celebration detritus, you can check back with this article and see how accurate our poll participants proved.