The spotlight falls on the Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk unveils Tesla Model 3 cars in Fremont

The Model 3 cars, which Tesla says will travel 350 kilometres on a charge compared to the longer-range luxury edition electric auto which can travel 500 kilometres, have price tags starting at $US35,000 ($44,000).

"Every Tesla sold right now has the hardware for full autonomy", Musk said.

The Model 3 also has upgrades for features, paint and tires that can push the final price tag for a Model 3 toward $60,000 before taxes and other fees, according to the features listed on Tesla's website. Some analysts believe that the average Model 3 will be in the mid-$40k range with the price going into the $60k range for a fully loaded version.

Unlike the Teslas before it, the Model 3 is a vehicle for the people.

The costs contrast with that of previous Tesla models, the Roadster, Model S and Model X, which hovered around the $100,000 mark or more.

It was a pivotal moment in Tesla's evolution from a manufacturer of luxury electric vehicles to a producer of mass-market cars. Musk, meanwhile, insisted that the car's dashboard was just fine. Only 30 customers will receive the first lot of cars from the production house. The standard battery on the base model, which Tesla said will come this fall, will have a range of 220 miles. But the Model 3 is an integral plan of Musk's long-term to eliminate fossil fuels and save the world (or possibly escape to Mars in one of his SpaceX rockets). The Model 3 can comfortably seat five adults. "Well, we're building the cars as fast as we can".

Musk has said a simpler Model 3 design will greatly reduce potential assembly-line problems. "We're going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell", Musk told journalists.

While Tesla produced just 83,000 vehicles in 2016, it has achieved a market value of some US$55 billion-ahead of General Motors-in anticipation that it will become a leader in the industry. However, compared to the production challenges faced with the original Roadster, the Model 3 sedan, and the Model X SUV, Musk said, via Business Insider, that a trip through hell will be easier to navigate. Customers can also spend a little more for the $44,000 long range version, which offers a 310 mile range, top speed of 140mph, and 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds.

Choosing any color other than black raises the Model 3's price by a grand.

The Model 3 will jump from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, with a top speed of 130 miles per hour. The company is looking to more than quadruple its annual production rate, to 500,000 vehicles, by next year.

To meet the expected pre orders would require a serious scale up in production, something Musk himself described as "hell" but he was committed to going through that hell to get to the optimum levels. "A year from now, if he hits the goal and is selling half-a-million cars to overwhelmingly satisfied customers, even the skeptics might dub him Iron Man".

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