On Aug. 2, 2006, Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, released a blog called, “The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me),” in which he explained the premise behind Tesla.
“Our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars,” Musk wrote on the blog. “This is because the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.”
Fast-forward to March 31, the first date that buyers could place a pre-order for Tesla’s new model, the Tesla Model 3, an affordable family car that Musk discussed in his blog almost 10 years ago. On this day, 115,000 pre-orders were placed, surpassing Wall Street analysts’ estimates of 100,000 pre-orders within the first two weeks. Elon Musk himself was surprised at the numbers.
“Definitely going to need to rethink production planning...” Musk tweeted after the 198,000th preorder came through.
Musk will likely be forced to rethink Tesla’s production process even more to meet customer demand and put that many cars on the road. In the first week of pre-orders, more than 325,000 down-payments of $1,000 were made.
Tesla has only produced and sold 110,000 cars in its entire lifetime, which spanned about a decade. Now the company will have to find a way to triple that production in a much shorter time frame.
The base model of the car is projected to cost about $35,000, a more affordable option than previous Tesla models.
The first Tesla car was the Roadster, an all-electric sports car that started at $109,000. The revenue that came from this vehicle was put straight into research and development for the next car, the Model S, which cost $89,000. Tesla also created an SUV, the Model X, around the same time.
Musk thanked customers who bought his previous automobiles during the first phase of the Model 3 unveiling.
“The Model S and X made the Model 3 possible,” Musk said during the unveiling. “So to all of you who bought an S or an X, thanks for paying for this.”
The Model 3 is the third car and the last step in Tesla Motor’s master plan. Tesla has already had problems meeting orders on time in the past. However, Musk remains optimistic, as he expects half a million pre-orders to come in before the second phase of the Model 3 announcement.
Recently, larger companies, such as General Motors (GM) in particular, have also been investing in the electric car market. GM has been working on the Chevrolet Volt since 2010, which is now capable of driving up to 53 miles per charge before it starts using gas to power its electric engine.
GM has attempted to boost its growth in the market by revealing the Chevrolet Bolt, which is predicted to be the Model 3’s closest competitor. The Bolt is priced similarly to the Model 3 at $30,000. Both companies boast that their cars have a driving range of more than 200 miles per charge.
Tesla is not expected to make its first deliveries of the Model 3 until late 2017, and full production might not happen until 2020, but those dates did not deter buyers from standing in lines with hundreds of other people to place a pre-order in stores, even though they could have waited a day to place a pre-order online. With crowds that large, it might just be a matter of time before Musk’s vision of motor vehicles becoming entirely electric comes into fruition.