BUSINESS AUTOS

Tesla Model 3: Elon Musk unveils the Model 3 to huge fanfare

The wait is over.

Elon Musk unveiled Tesla's latest electric vehicle, the sleek Model 3, Thursday night in front of a crowd of 800 people in Hawthorne and an enormous audience online via livestream.

Pre-orders for the electric vehicle -- envisioned as Tesla's first affordable electric car for the masses -- began Thursday morning in stores around the world and online starting at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time.

By 10 p.m., roughly 133,000 pre-orders had been placed.

That's all, folks

Pre-orders continue to climb

115,000 pre-orders was so one hour ago.

At the Tesla event in Hawthorne, a massive screen in the main hall continued to tabulate the number of Model 3 pre-orders taken worldwide. 

More than 115,000 when Musk began his presentation, it had hit 132,000 around 10 p.m. and was still climbing.

Our reporter's take on his first Model 3 ride

The Model 3 won't be delivered until late 2017 at the earliest, but a select few people got to take a ride in the new electric vehicle Thursday night.

In groups of three, the auto press and special guests were chauffeured along a half-mile track.

By general agreement, the car is sleek, silent and smart-looking. A comfortable five-seater, it was roomy enough to fit a 6'3" driver and leave leg room for the 6' passenger behind him. The use of a single piece of glass to cover the rear seating area increased the roomy feeling. 

The ride included a short straightaway section long enough to allow one burst of electric acceleration for which Teslas are deservedly famous.

At 10 p.m., after this reporter had taken his spin, there were still dozens of others eager to ride.

Musk hints at more to come

First official photos

Uptown frunk (that's a front trunk)

Not much room for junk in the trunk

Pre-orders keep rolling in

Inside the Model 3

360-view of the Model 3

$4 billion in a day?

Tesla raked it in Thursday, accepting 115,000 pre-orders of the Model 3 before the car was even unveiled to the public.

With the car boasting a starting price tag of $35,000, numbers-savvy people online were quick to point out that that's a cool $4 billion for Tesla. 

But not quite - people put down deposits of $1,000 with the option to cancel anytime. 

Still, that's a lot of dough.

Let's go for a joy ride

Musk confident in 2017 delivery date

Tesla has had trouble delivering its cars on time in the past, but Musk says things will be different with the Model 3. 

The entrepreneur got a big laugh from the audience when he said the electric vehicle would be delivered next year and "I do feel fairly confident it will be next year."

At $35,000, Musk promised "you will not be able to buy a better car, any better car, for less than that."

The Model S and X made the Model 3 possible. So to all of you who bought an S or an X, thanks for paying for this.

Elon Musk

Musk reveals huge pre-order numbers for the Model 3

Charging your Model 3

All Model 3s are expected to come standard with supercharging.

Supercharger stations, located throughout the U.S., are billed as a way to let Tesla owners charge their cars within minutes.

By 2017, Musk hopes to double the number of superchargers and quadruple the number of destination chargers available to Tesla owners. That's about 7,200 superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers.

A lot about having a car is about freedom -- going where you want to go. The supercharger is critical to that.

Elon Musk

Musk calls Model 3 an instant success

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, speaking to an adoring crowd of Tesla fans, pronounced the Model 3 a great success upon its birth tonight in Hawthorne. 

Pulling the covers off the fourth vehicle in the company's short history, Musk declared that more than 115,000 vehicles had been pre-ordered in the last 24 hours.

The lower, sleeker Tesla – at least 20% smaller in stature than its bigger brother, the Model S  – will be able to go from 0 to 60 in less than six seconds in its most affordable configuration. 

That version also will be fitted with Tesla's "autopilot" features, which have helped the car be among the safest on highways.

Standing before a collection of new Model 3s, Musk reminded the audience that this car represents the culmination of a long-held dream to bring affordable, zero-pollution vehicles to the world's highways. 

All about that black matte finish

Here's the Model 3

Main features of the Model 3

Price: $35,000

Safety: 5-star safety rating in every category

Speed: Base model will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds, with some models that go faster.

Range: EPA rating of at least 215 miles per charge

Other features: autopilot hardware, fits five adults comfortably, front and rear cargo trunks

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