Tesla CEO Musk plans Model X deliveries this month, Model 3 orders in March

Tesla Motors plans to deliver the first Model X electric crossovers to customers near the end of this month at its auto factory in Fremont, Calif.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday on Twitter that the first production cars would be handed over on Sept 29. The X is a closely related sibling to Tesla’s Model S electric sedan. Including the discontinued Roadster, it will be the Palo Alto automaker’s third vehicle.

Musk tweeted that with the same options, the Model X will cost about $5,000 more than the S because of its larger size and body complexity. The rear-wheel-drive base model of the S with a 70-kWh battery and 230-mile range starts at $70,000 before any federal and state incentives for electric cars.

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The electric car company plans to offer a fully loaded Signature Series version of the Model X for $132,000.

Tesla originally said it would start manufacturing the Model X at the end of 2013, with sales to begin last year, but the program is behind schedule.

The Model X, designed at Tesla's studio in Hawthorne, will fit seven adults in three rows of seats, the automaker said. It will use Tesla's flat battery pack, positioned on the underside of the vehicle. That clears space in the cabin and also allows for a second trunk under the hood.

Musk also said that Tesla plans to put the Model 3, “our smaller and lower cost sedan” into production “in about 2 years.” Tesla plans to reveal the look of the car in March and begin taking orders then.

Musk said the Model 3, which is expected to sell for about $35,000, has to wait until Tesla's giant “gigafactory” battery manufacturing plant, under construction near Reno, is fully operational. Tesla is counting on the battery manufacturing cost reductions and efficiencies it expects from the plant to help keep down the cost of the lower-priced sedan.

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