Tesla Hints at “Late 2017” Production Date for $35k Model 3

By · May 08, 2015

Tesla factory robots

Tesla robots working on the Model S. Production of a future model, the Model 3, is currently slated for late 2017, but that date is uncertain.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, was not very precise this week when he talked about production timing for the Model 3, the company’s planned $35,000 200-mile electric car. "We are hoping to show the Model 3 in March of next year,” said Musk. He quickly added, “Don’t super-hold me to that month. That’s our aspiration.”

That’s the current timing for the first unveiling of the Model 3, perhaps the most highly anticipated car of the electric vehicle era. Actual production would start in mid- or late-2017. "Late 2017 is probably more realistic," said Musk.

The company, and the industry, sees the Model 3 as the culmination of about a decade of planning and work on Tesla’s part, and the turning point for when longer-range battery-powered vehicles go mainstream. With its relatively affordable $35,000 price tag, Tesla hopes to sell as many as 500,000 units per year.

If Musk is imprecise about the timing, it’s because he does not want to repeat what happened when the company repeatedly changed its communications about timing for the Tesla Model X SUV. At this stage, some customers have had reservations and deposits for more than three years.

Musk unveiled the Model X prototype on February 9, 2012, promising the first deliveries by the end of 2013. Eleven months later on Jan. 13, 2013, Musk—while visiting the Detroit auto show—indicated “the second half of 2014” as a launch target. That got pushed to late 2014 in a subsequent financial statement, and in February 2014, back again to spring 2015. Speaking during Tesla’s earning call on Feb. 11 of this year, Musk said that he is “highly confident of delivering our first customer cars this summer and then spooling up to significant volume in Q4.”

On the earnings call this week, Musk referred to the Model X, explaining that it’s “on track for start of deliveries in late Q3.” This comment essentially represents another minor delay to around September, rather than the summer. If this target is met, the sum total of delays will be about two year between the first announced schedule and the first actual deliveries.

Tesla is a more mature company than it was in 2012, when the Model X was introduced. Yet, the scale of its ambitions is much higher for the Model 3. Regardless, the company appears willing to set ambitious targets, and then change the dates if an aggressive schedule isn’t met. So, we can only wait to see if the current target of late 2017 for the Model 3 becomes a reality or, if during a future earnings call, production timing shifts to 2018.


· · 3 years ago

I certainly hope this is the case - they are just better at keeping things secret now, as far as details of the car and images, etc.

· · 3 years ago

Well, they can afford to keep things a little more secret - they don't need to drum up investment money. They also have competition in the pipeline with at least the Bolt and the Leaf 2.0, most likely more.

I think this is not the last delay we will see regarding the Model III. But the important thing is that they are successful. In the end, the exact year it arrived is much less important. Or so I tell myself as I impatiently wait to get one of these cars!

· · 3 years ago

tesla's cars have always been my favorite, looking forward for the upcoming editions, hope the price stay in my reach.

· · 3 years ago

The Model 3 is certainly one of the most anticipated cars I've seen in my lifetime. Especially one that exists in the public mind only as a collection of a few specifications: price, range and very approximate dimensions.

· · 3 years ago

Looking forward to the next couple years of new electrics... This upcoming Tesla could be the biggest hit... but coming too late after LEAF 2.0 and BOLT would mean that a fair amount of their customers may have already committed to other contracts.
Seems that this is where the difference between established players in the market get their due... Nissan is poised to deliver a 110+ LEAF "1.9" next year which would cement its place in EV history if it has a retrofittable battery top all previous LEAF revisions. They will show how well organized they are as they deliver these according to plan. Then if 2.0 delivers a solid 175 to 200 EPA miles 2017/18 could be Nissan's Year provided they keep the prices in line with Model III expectations. Nissan could very well end up showing Musk a few things.
Tesla should also consider a surprise. Build a rugged truck on the skateboard model S battery and offer a truck at or slightly before the Model III. Imagine the towing capacity and the climbing torque of a Tesla Truck or Cargo Van.
Nissan's e-NV200 is poised to rock the small commercial vehicle market as the batteries improve in that model and they intro it here in the states.

Lots of fun coming soon! Pass the popcorn...

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