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Elon Musk is preparing to go through ‘production hell’ to deliver Tesla’s Model 3 on time

Musk handed over the keys to the first 30 owners on Friday night.

Tesla Model 3
Model 3

Elon Musk marked an important moment for his electric vehicle company Tesla on Friday night. In a move that symbolized the first step in Tesla’s shift from a luxury car maker to a mass market one, Musk handed the keys to his first ever mainstream car, the Model 3, to 30 people at the company’s factory in Fremont, Calif.

While he spent the better part of the event talking up the design and safety of the Model 3, Musk didn’t tiptoe around how difficult producing a mass market car for the first time will be.

“Frankly, we’re going to be in production hell,” he told a crowd of Tesla employees. “For at least six months, maybe longer.”

Tesla employees waiting patiently for Elon Musk to take the stage
Johana Bhuiyan

Tesla has manufactured only 50 Model 3s so far, 20 of which were being used for testing and validation. Musk said he expects to produce another 100 in August. That production rate will ramp up very quickly, if all goes according to plan, as Tesla wants to have produced 20,000 Model 3s in December.

Unfortunately, people who are just beginning to order the Model 3 will have to wait at least until the end of 2018 to get one, Musk said.

The car starts at $35,000, making it Tesla’s most affordable model yet. It goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds and tops out at 130 miles per hour. You can add enhanced Autopilot and full self-driving capabilities for an additional $8,000. That means as the company rolls out software updates over time, your car will become increasingly autonomous.

The company has struggled to meet some of its, at times, ambitious delivery and production deadlines. And that was when it was just a luxury car maker. As of January of this year, Tesla had only delivered a little over 100,000 cars in total.

The first production Model 3s
Johana Bhuiyan

To that end, Tesla is in the middle of building out its battery factory, called the Gigafactory, based in Sparks, Nevada. In order to create enough batteries to meet the new demand for the Model 3, and the continued demand for the Model S and X, Tesla expects to build at least three more battery factories.

The Tesla Model 3 event on Friday was short but well scripted, with design and factory staffers delivering speeches about the work that went into building the Model 3. Once Musk took the stage, he thanked Tesla employees and then unveiled the 30 first production Model 3s and their new owners were able to get behind the steering wheels.

Musk ended the event by thanking Model S and X owners, who he said made the Model 3, the third part of his original Master Plan to save the environment, a reality.


There is a lot riding on the next few months for Tesla, as the industry and Wall Street watch closely to see whether the company will be able to successfully manufacture a mass market car. It’s not an easy task but Musk appears confident that the company will be able to reach the initial goal of producing 5,000 cars a week by the end of the year.

Tesla will report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday and we’ll be looking out for more information on the company’s production plans.

Watch: Tesla’s Model 3 launch event in 5 minutes

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