Tesla is holding a shin-ding late Friday to commemorate the start of Model 3 deliveries — and it marks a huge milestone in Tesla’s history as a company.
In 2006, Elon Musk typed up his very first “Master Plan” for an electric automaker that had yet to produce its first vehicle. Musk wasn’t CEO at the time, but was overseeing initial production for Tesla’s Roadster, a battery-powered sports car that the company has since discontinued.
“As you know, the initial product of Tesla Motors is a high performance electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster,” Musk wrote at the time. “However, some readers may not be aware of the fact that our long term plan is to build a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars.”
Although it was short lived, the Roadster was a critical car for Tesla.
It raised the profile for then-nascent, electric vehicle technology and opened the door for other successful entries in the market, like the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf.
Although companies like General Motors and Toyota were researching electric cars before the Roadster’s launch, Tesla was the first to show battery-powered car weren’t just garage projects: they could be sexy and fun.
Many may not realise that the Roadster was always designed with the Model 3 in mind — even if the Model 3 was still a concept rather than a physical product.
“Without giving away too much, I can say that the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $US89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable,” Musk said in his 2006 plan.
Musk charted off course slightly by launching two luxury vehicles, the Model S and Model X, before the Model 3. The Model 3, however, will come in at $US35,000 — under that $US45,000 price tag Musk promised over a decade ago.
Tesla faces a slew of challenges going forward, but Friday’s event celebrates a dream that was 10 years in the making. Through an economic downturn and “production hell,” Tesla came out on the other side and built its first affordable car.
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