Elon Musk is about to launch his Tesla Model 3 this week and it will show if his take on the future of electric cars is right on the dot.
In 2004, when Musk became Tesla Motors Inc. chairman, his goal was not to build exotic and cool electric cars, but to spur the birth of a new industry - electric cars for the masses. He wanted this industry to go main stream.
He still sees electric vehicles as a critical element in solving climate change.
On Thursday, Musk will finally unveil a car that he has been promising all these years - a mass-market car designed to be the big-bang for EVs. He calls it the Model 3 which has a sticker price of $35,000 and has a maximum range of 200 miles in one charge.
The car's market niche is deliberately crafted - half the base price of the Tesla luxury models. This price is approximately the median cost for U.S. cars. Its distance range is believed to be more than enough to handle the fearsome range anxiety - the fear of being stranded out of nowhere when the battery goes dead.
Although the tag price of the Tesla Model 3 is $35,000, buyers will be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. That places its actual price near that of a Ford F-1. However, this incentive lasts only until Musk has sold 200,000 electric cars. As of now, Musk's company will reach this number approximately one year after he delivers the Model 3 to customers.
The Tesla Model 3 is classified as a sedan and will be a standard four-door car, although a bit smaller than the Model S. Some industry observers believe that Musk will come out with a number of trims built on its platform with rumors also of a cross-over "mini-SUV."
Pre-orders will be received next week, and it will be a few years before a car is delivered. Rumors have it that production starts in late 2017.