Tesla starts Model 3 production
Tesla Motors' mass-market Model 3 electric cars are seen in this handout picture from Tesla Motors Photograph: (Reuters)
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk announced that production of its mass-market Model 3 would start this week.
Most investors are focused on the outlook for the Model 3, and some analysts have been sceptical about its planned July launch after production delays and quality issues marred the launches of the Model S and Model X.
Tesla's shares are up by more than 60 per cent this year, partly on expectations of a strong launch for its Model 3, the first car the company has aimed at the mass market. Tesla has a market value of $58 billion, greater than either General Motors or Ford Motor.
In a series of posts on Twitter, Musk said the Model 3 had passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule.
"Production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1,500," Musk said. "Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec."
That is in line with targets Tesla previously set, of more than 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of this year and 10,000 vehicles per week 'at some point in 2018'.
Musk said he expected SN1, the first car off the assembly line for sale, to be completed by 7 July.
Tesla has taken deposits on more than 300,000 Model 3s, starting at $35,000 a vehicle. Its popularity stands out as major US automakers face a downturn. GM and Ford both reported lower sales for June.
The Model 3 marks a turning point for Tesla as it transitions from a niche luxury car manufacturer to a mass producer. The 500,000 vehicles the company plans to make next year is nearly six times its 2016 production.
As per previous reports, Tesla shut down production at its California assembly plant for a week to prepare for production of the Model 3 sedan, in order to meet its target of starting production in July.