Tesla Model 3Enlarge Photo
Since the reveal of its Model 3 prototype a year ago, Tesla has been adamant deliveries will start no later than the end of 2017.
By all accounts things appear to be on track as Tesla in a letter sent to shareholders on Wednesday said the first customer examples of the Model 3 will start rolling off the line at its car plant in Fremont, California in July.
In preparation for the start of production, Tesla paused operations at the plant for a week earlier this month. Among the modifications made was an upgrade of the paint shop to handle the higher volumes of the Model 3. Tesla is targeting a production rate of 5,000 model 3s weekly by the fourth quarter of 2017. In 2018 the company intends to double this rate.
The Model 3 will mark Tesla’s transformation from a niche player to a volume automaker. The company is predicting that with the upcoming small sedan, its annual production will reach as high as 500,000 units by as early as 2018. (Tesla produced just under 84,000 units in 2016.) Before you scoff at the target, note that Tesla already has close to 400,000 pre-orders for the car from eager customers all over the globe.
Tesla Motors Supercharger network in North America - map as of January 2017Enlarge Photo
Tesla says the Model 3 will have a starting price of no more than $35,000 and a range of at least 215 miles. Via Twitter, CEO Elon Musk said the Model 3 won’t have a 100-kilowatt-hour battery because its wheelbase is too small.
Also in its letter, Tesla outlined plans for three more Gigafactories in addition to the current two in Storey County, Nevada (Gigafactory 1) and Buffalo, New York (Gigafactory 2). Tesla said that locations for Gigafactories 3, 4 and possibly 5 would be finalized by the end of 2017.
Gigafactory 1 is currently producing energy storage systems like the Powerwall as well as batteries for use in Tesla cars. Gigafactory 2 is currently being used to supply solar cells for SolarCity, which Tesla acquired last year. SolarCity plans to start production of solar roof tiles in the second half of 2017.
Finally, Tesla said it would double the number of Supercharging stations in North America in 2017. Currently, Tesla has 373 of the stations across the United States, Canada, and Mexico that total 2,636 Superchargers (shown above). Globally, the company has 790 stations that total 5,043 Superchargers.