Tesla tweeted this teaser invite to the March 31 unveiling of the Model 3.
Tesla
By Kirsten Korosec
March 21, 2016

The first Tesla Model 3 owners will likely live in California and already own one of the automaker’s other all-electric cars, the Model S and the Model X SUV.

Tesla released details on Monday about how to reserve the Model 3, the cheaper mass-market electric vehicle that will make its public debut March 31. The process includes a $1,000 fee, which is lower than the $5,000 required with previous luxury models, a move that suggests the company is trying to reach a broader market.

To be more fair, Tesla said each region would have its own reservation queue, which gives everyone regardless of time zone the same chance. For example, this prevents a person in New York who arrives at a Tesla store right as it opens from getting ahead of all the folks who are still sleeping in California.

Some people will be pushed in front of the line, however. As a thank you to its current Tesla owners, existing customers will get priority in each region, the company says in a blog post. New would-be owners will just have to wait. Californians will also get an advantage at first, according to Tesla, because they happen to live in the same state where it manufacturers its cars.

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Vehicle starts shipments, which won’t begin until late 2017, will begin on the West Coast and move east. It’s easier for the company to deliver more cars by concentrating on areas closest to its Fremont, Calif., factory first.

After production ramps up, the cars will start being delivered to Europe, Asia-Pacific regions, and markets where the steering wheel is on the right side of the car like in the U.K., Tesla says.

Buyers have two ways to make reservations. To get to the front of the queue, they can reserve in person at a Tesla store on March 31. Online reservations will begin that night at 8:30 p.m. PT, the same time the live unveiling begins at an invite-only event at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. near Los Angeles.

Online reservations can be made at Tesla.com, a url that up until recently was owned by another party. Either way, $1,000 is required to make the reservation.

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The March 31 unveiling gets Tesla closer to CEO Elon Musk’s goal of producing a mass-market electric vehicle. It’s why the company is building a massive $5 billion battery factory in Nevada that can mass-produce 50 gigawatt hours of battery packs annually to help drive down costs.

By the end of 2017, the facility is expected to reduce the per-kilowatt-hour cost of its lithium-ion battery packs by more than 30%. The Model 3 is expected to cost $35,000 before tax incentives compared to the Tesla Model S sedan, which starts at about $70,000 for the base model. The Model X SUV, which premiered last year, starts at $80,000.

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