The excitement over the Model 3 has no equivalent since the anticipation of Lee Iacocca’s Mustang more than half a century ago. For weeks now, lineups several metres long have formed at the Tesla Motors Inc. kiosk at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. These are Tesla enthusiasts putting down a $1,000 (U.S.) deposit on an advance order for Tesla’s latest electric vehicle (EV), the Model 3.
The excitement over the Model 3, which holds the potential of making EVs a mass-market product for the first time, has no equivalent since the anticipation of Lee Iacocca’s Mustang more than half a century ago.
And the upfront cash from the faithful at Yorkdale and Tesla’s other sales outlets worldwide meant that when Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk took the wraps off three Model 3 prototypes at a convention centre last month, he already had $115 million in advance-order cash in his back pocket. By now, that figure is about $400 million.
On May 4, Musk stunned the auto world by vowing to ramp up Tesla’s vehicle production to 500,000 units per year by 2018, just two years from now. To date, the 13-year-old Tesla Motors has made a grand total of just under 125,000 vehicles. The new goal is 10 times the number of cars and SUVs Tesla delivered in 2015.
If the Model 3 has the potential to revolutionize an auto industry that has not changed in its essentials since the advent of the internal combustion engine in the 1880s, it will take revolutionary means to bring about that transformation. This is where the Tesla story begins to look like magical thinking.
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