Tesla has unveiled its first electric car for the mass market, marking a major milestone in the future of sustainable transport, according to the company’s chief, Elon Musk.
The Tesla Model 3 will be the company’s fourth car, fully electric and available for $35,000. Musk said Tesla had already received more than 100,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, which will go from 0-60 miles per hour in less than six seconds and have a range on a single charge of at least 215 miles.
The Model 3 will come with the firm’s trademark AutoPilot self-driving features, and Musk said Tesla’s development of electric cars was “very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.”
“It’s really important for the future of the world,” he added, citing rising carbon dioxide levels and temperatures.
The fanfare surrounding the launch was unlike any other for recent cars, with 800 cheering fans in California to see the Model 3 for the first time, as well as queues outside Tesla stores – in scenes reminiscent of a smartphone launch – for customers to pre-order the car with a $1,000 deposit.
There have already been suggestions from experts that the Model 3, which is targeted to go on sale in 2017, could bring electric cars into the mainstream for the first time by offering the same level of luxury to other cars of a similar size such as the BMW 3 series – one of the most popular in the UK.
Musk also confirmed more stores, and charging points would be rolled out over the coming year, making Tesla a more accessible option for many drivers.
As part of the production process, Tesla has built the largest battery production factory in the world, one that Musk said the “gigafactory” was the second largest building in the world in terms of volume behind the Boeing factory in Washington state in the US.