Thirty of the earliest Tesla Model 3 buyers took delivery of their electric cars last night in a gala event for owners, investors, and friends the company had dubbed the Handover Party.
The highly anticipated Model 3, the vehicle Tesla hopes will boost its production to hundreds of thousands of electric cars a year, will initially come in two versions.
The first cars delivered were the Long Range version, with a projected EPA range rating of 310 miles. Production of Standard versions with a 220-mile estimated range will be added this fall.
Oddly, while Tesla provided performance figures, it declined to specify the battery capacity for either version.
Base Model 3 cars will have a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 5.6 seconds, the company said, and a top speed of 130 mph. The Long Range version hits 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and tops out at 140 mph.
Early deliveries of the Model 3 will come with a single motor powering the rear wheels; all-wheel drive will be added as an option next year, and a "P" performance model may be in the cards as well.
2018 Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 electric car is slightly larger in all dimensions than the current generation of the BMW 3-Series sport sedan that is likely its closest competitor.
The Tesla's 185-inch length is roughly 2.5 inches longer; its 73-inch width is 1.5 inches wider; the 57-inch height is all but identical; and it has 3 inches more wheelbase, at 113 inches.
The interior is extremely simple, with a single 15-inch touchscreen sitting proud of the dash that includes virtually all of the car's operating controls aside from the pedals and a couple of buttons on the steering wheel.
Standard equipment on every Model 3 includes LED headlights, Internet connectivity, a navigation system, and such electronic safety systems as collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.
The price of the base version starts at $35,000, as promised, with the longer-range battery adding $9,000. A Tesla Model 3 with every option listed today will run to $59,500, plus the unspecified cost of all-wheel drive.
Any color except black will cost $1,000 more; upgrading from the standard 18-inch Aero to 19-inch Sport wheels and tires adds $1,500.
Tesla Model 3 spotted at service center
The Enhanced Autopilot suite of active-safety systems, adding lane-changing and self-parking, is $5,000, and future self-driving capabilities will be offered for $3,000 when ready.
A $5,000 Premium Upgrades package adds 12-way heated and power adjustable front seats, a panoramic glass roof, an upgraded audio system, power adjustable steering and heated folding side mirrors, a center console, wood trim and upgraded materials, and two rear USB ports.
The charging rates differ between the two battery options: the Standard pack can add 30 miles of range per hour on a 32-amp 240-volt outlet, and will add 130 miles during 30 minutes of Supercharging, while the Long Range version adds 37 miles at 40 amps and 170 miles per half-hour of Supercharging.
2017 Tesla Model 3, in photo tweeted by Elon Musk on July 9, 2017
Tesla warrants the Model 3 for 4 years or 50,000 miles, with an 8-year warranty on the battery that covers 100,000 miles for the base pack and 120,000 miles for the Long Range pack.
Slow production of the earliest Model 3 cars has been proceeding for the last several weeks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted two images of the very first production car on July 9th.
He now reportedly owns that car, as company board member Ira Ehrenpreis gave up his first-in-line Model 3 reservation as a birthday present to Musk.
The company hasn't formally updated the number of $1,000 online reservations received for the Model 3 in more than a year; the last number Tesla confirmed was 373,000.
During last night's event, however, CEO Musk said Tesla has taken more than half a million reservations, and that buyers who reserve a Model 3 today will likely receive their cars late in 2018.
"It’s an amazing car, but we’re going through six months of manufacturing hell," he said frankly.
Tesla Motors - assembly and test facilities
"It's going to be pretty great, but it’s going to be quite a challenge to build this car,” Musk added.
“Floods, fires, tornadoes, ships sink, if anything interrupts supply chains," he suggested, "that will interrupt the production."
The company expects to build 30 Model 3s in July, 100 in August, and more than 1,500 in September. According to a slide shown at the delivery event, Tesla is now targeting a weekly production rate of 5,000 cars by the end of this year.
You can watch a video of the entire 36-minute handover event below.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said that Tesla was targeting a production rate of 20,000 cars a month by the end of this December. That number was an earlier goal, and has apparently been superseded: Musk showed a slide at the delivery event that targeted a more modest 5,000 cars a month by December 31. We have updated the article accordingly.