So, who put down a deposit?
The Tesla Model 3 has game changing potential for the Silicon Valley technology company, mainly because of its affordable price of around $35,000, not including federal tax credits. Put another way, the Tesla Model 3 could very well become the new Chevrolet Bolt's worst nightmare. And according to a report from Reuters and Automotive News, that nightmare may begin soon. Newly renamed Tesla, Inc. has informed suppliers that it'll begin test-building the Model 3 on February 20th.
But these pre-production cars obviously won't be for sale, and the 370,000 or so people who put down $1,000 deposits for a Model 3 are still anxiously waiting for an official production start date. Originally, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he wanted production up and running this coming July. Pundits along with suppliers question whether that'd even be possible, especially considering Tesla's past delays with its two existing models. But this month's Model 3 pre-production is a good sign that things are proceeding well. However, this could also be a publicity stunt of sorts, mainly in an effort "to stoke the fan base and Wall Street…with pre-production models," stated one anonymous source with inside information.
It's also worth mentioning that Tesla has yet to make a profit ever since it went public back in 2010. Musk has an ambitious goal of producing 500,000 cars per year by 2018. Compared to 2016, that would mean an increase of annual production by four or five times. We'll leave it to Musk to prove the naysayers wrong.