Electric car maker Tesla has unveiled its new, cheaper mass market model and revealed it had already taken 130,000 orders even though it is more than a year away from production.
Enthusiasts had queued overnight outside Tesla stores in California to put down deposits on the car, which will sell for $ 35,000 (£24,000), half the price of its current models, the Model S and the Model X, which start at $ 70,000 (£49,000).
Chief executive Elon Musk said it was the final step In the company’s plan to develop a “mass market, affordable car”.
It is expected to have a range of more than 200 miles on an electric charge – around double what drivers currently get from competitors it is price range. Features will include automatic lane-changing.
Tesla is aiming to lift its car production to 500,000 by 2020, up from 50,000 last year.
It also plans to double the number of stores it has worldwide to 441 by the end of 2017.
Mr Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model 3 Sedan in Hawthorne, California, outside Los Angeles at an event attended by hundreds of Tesla owners and media.
Three of the cars were driven on stage. The four-door vehicles have no grille and also feature a roof that is a panoramic pane of glass from front to back.
The Model 3 is seen as critical to Tesla’s growth plans and sustaining its share price which has jumped in recent days ahead of the launch, amid concerns by some sceptics about when the business will start to turn a profit.
A rival electric car from General Motors, the Chevrolet Bolt, is to launch later this year at a starting price of around $ 35,000 while a new generation of Nissan’s Leaf electric car is also in the offing.
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