Elon Musk shows off Tesla’s first production Model 3

They’re here: photos of the first-ever production unit of Tesla’s “mass market” Model 3 electric automobile were released over the weekend, as co-founder and CEO Elon Musk posted a pair of images on Twitter showing the vehicle in front of the company’s California-based factory.

According to BBC News and The Verge, the pictures come just days after Musk promised that the world would get its first look at the highly-anticipated, $35,000 mass-market electric vehicle sometime this week – and as it turns out, Musk himself will be the owner of the first Model 3.

Rights to the first Model 3 were actually purchased by  Tesla board member Ira Ehrenpreis, as the honor was supposed to go to the first individual to place a full deposit on the car, the media outlets explained. However, Ehrenpreis apparently opted to give the rights to Musk as a present for his upcoming 46th birthday, according to a Twitter post by the CEO.

The next 29 Model 3 customers will receive their four-door electric vehicles at a party on July 28, and production is expected to increase to 100 units in August, The Verge said. That number is expected to surpass 1,500 by September, and 20,000 Model 3s are expected to be available by the end of the year.

Musk’s company to face unexpected competition from Volvo

Reports suggest that Tesla has a lot riding on the Model 3. According to BBC News, the firm reported a loss of $889 million over its last full financial year, and registrations for new Teslas fell 24 percent in its largest market, California, in April 2017 versus the same month in 2016. Likewise, Fortune called the Model 3 “the vehicle that Tesla… for the first time, hopes will help boost it into profitability. At $35,000 before incentives, it’s also the vehicle that Musk believes will be the breakthrough to bringing electric vehicles to the average American home.” Tesla has promised that the Model 3 will have a range of 215 miles per charge, the website added.

The images of Musk’s Model 3 came just days after Volvo announced that it would become the first traditional vehicle manufacturer to exclusively produce hybrid and electric cars, and would be phasing out the internal combustion engine (ICE) starting with its 2019 model year.

In addition to converting its model line to full-electric, plug-in hybrid or mild-hybrid vehicles, Volvo announced that it would be producing five fully electric vehicles between 2019 and 2021 – three of which will be released as Volvos and two others that will be high-end cars which will be released as part of their Polestar performance line. No other details were made available.

“People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish,” Volvo’s president and chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson, said in a press release. “This announcement,” he added, “marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car.”


Image credit: Elon Musk/Twitter