Published: Wed, August 02, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Mainstream Model 3 Could Make or Break

Mainstream Model 3 Could Make or Break

A key executive who led the battery cell team at Tesla for more than a decade has left just as the company begins to ramp production of the Model 3 electric vehicle.

The Model 3 will be priced at around USA $35,000, making it the most affordable offering from Tesla yet.

Also noteworthy, 20 percent of owners with reservations are "unsure" if they will actually buy the vehicle, and another 7 percent said they are "unlikely" or "very unlikely" to do so, suggesting a "haircut" to Tesla's current deposit total of more than 500,000 could be ahead.

'We're going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell, ' Musk said.

Production delays and quality issues marred the launches of Tesla's Model S and Model X vehicles, and the company blamed production problems for a shortfall during the second quarter of this year. The compact Model 3 may not entice a global market that's increasingly shifting to SUVs, including all-electric SUVs from Audi and others going on sale soon.

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Tesla said it expects Model 3 production of 100 in August, 1,500 in September and 20,000 in December, not including the Model S and X production. Development of the Model 3 has cost the company billions, forcing it to launch another stock offering last May.

Or the Model 3 could dash Tesla's dreams. Despite the fact that the company's market capitalization is greater than that of General Motors, Tesla pays some of the lowest wages for hourly workers in the US auto industry, starting at just $18 an hour.

Even if everything were to go right, Musk previously had indicated all those now holding reservations likely wouldn't take delivery of a Model 3 for at least 18 months.

"It was never our goal to make expensive cars". Once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars in the USA, the credit phases out.

Until now, Tesla has operated as a niche producer of luxury electric vehicles, with a charismatic, showman CEO who regularly interacts with fans on his Twitter account. Robin Santucci was one of the first in line to order a Model 3 at the Santa Monica, California, Tesla store in March 2016.

Workers also complained that there is no clear policy for how workers might advance at Tesla.

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