Tesla on track to produce new Model 3

Tesla Model 3 customers can choose the car's colour and size of its wheels and eventually choose between two motors - one designed for highway travel and another for stop-and-go traffic.
Tesla Model 3 customers can choose the car's colour and size of its wheels and eventually choose between two motors - one designed for highway travel and another for stop-and-go traffic.PHOTO: REUTERS

Also offers a glimpse of Model Y and hopes to produce half a million electric cars by next year

NEW YORK • At Tesla's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, chief executive Elon Musk shed new light on the company's next sport utility vehicle, the Model Y, while confirming the production schedule for the new Model 3, the company's entry-level car that is priced at US$35,000 (S$48,000).

Tesla is set to begin production of the Model 3 next month, nearing the day when the first customers will be able to get behind the wheel, reported the Washington Post.

Buoyed by the mass-market appeal of the Model 3, Tesla hopes to produce half a million electric cars by next year - vastly ramping up its output over last year at 85,000 vehicles.

Early customers of the Model 3 can choose the car's colour and size of its wheels, Mr Musk said.

But as production accelerates later this year and into next year, additional configurations will open up.

Model 3 customers can eventually choose between two motors, one designed for highway travel and another for stop-and-go traffic, optimising for acceleration and mileage economy.

Demand for the Model 3 is not slowing, Mr Musk said. Customers who place reservations now will not see their vehicle until late next year.

He also offered the first glimpse of the Model Y, which is expected to hit the road by 2019.

He did not offer additional details on the design, but noted that demand for the Y is exceeding that of the Model 3.

Finally, at the end of September, Tesla plans to show off a working prototype of its new all-electric semi-trailer truck.

"We've shown it to a number of organisations that buy heavy-duty trucking and they all love it," Mr Musk said.

"They just want to know how many can they buy and how soon."

He added that customers of heavy-duty trucks are giving Tesla feedback on the design, helping to keep the vehicle tailored to their needs.

Teasing the audience, he said: "I'd really recommend showing up for the semi-truck unveiling.

"Maybe there's a little more than we are saying here."

He also has other reasons to feel upbeat.

According to Time magazine, Tesla has surpassed General Motors to become the most valuable carmaker in the United States.

Its lofty perch has been driven by a 65 per cent acceleration in its stock price this year.

Tesla now can blow its own horn with a market capitalisation of US$59 billion, versus US$52 billion for General Motors and US$44 billion for Ford.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Tesla on track to produce new Model 3'. Print Edition | Subscribe