Tesla to deliver first Model 3 cars this month

Even before Tesla unveiled its new Model 3, more than 115,000 people had already paid $1,000 to reserve one of the highly-anticipated electric cars.

Tesla’s first mass market electric car will start rolling off the production line this week.

“Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday. The first one is expected to be finished Friday, he said.

The automaker is aiming to dramatically ramp up output of the eagerly awaited vehicle in the coming months.

After throwing a “handover party” for the first 30 customers in late July, Tesla plans to produce 100 Model 3 cars in August, 1,500 in September and 20,000 in December, according to Musk.

But that schedule won’t put much of a dent in the enormous backlog of orders for the car.

At the company’s annual shareholder meeting last month, Musk said that anyone putting down an order then probably wouldn’t get their car before the end of 2018.

Tesla opened up pre-orders for the Model 3 more than a year ago. Within a matter of days, more than 300,000 customers put down $1,000 deposits to reserve their place in line.

Tesla hasn’t updated the pre-order count since last year, but Musk said last month that “there are more and more deposits every week.”

Investor hopes for Model 3 sales have helped push up Tesla’s stock price in recent months, taking the company’s market value above those of traditional automakers such as Ford and General Motors.

At $35,000, the Model 3 will cost about half the price of the base version of the Model S. And buyers will get tax breaks. There’s a $7,500 federal deduction, and some states offer as much as $2,500 in credits. The average price of all new cars today is about $34,000, according to Kelley Blue Book.