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Orders for Tesla’s New Budget Model Hit 276,000


FILE - Tesla Motors unveils the new lower-priced Model 3 sedan at the Tesla Motors design studio in Hawthorne, California, March 31, 2016.

Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk said worldwide orders for the company’s new lower-priced electric car have topped 276,000.

Musk announced the number during an impromptu question and answer session on Twitter Sunday – more than double what the company was expecting – and suggested orders might hit 500,000 if the current pace continues.

To put that number in perspective: Tesla began accepting pre-orders for the Model 3 Thursday and by Saturday had received more than twice as many reservations for the car as all previous Tesla sales combined.

The $35,000 Model 3 will be able to drive about 215 miles on a single charge. Musk said a larger battery upgrade will be available, but the company hopes to have an even longer range on the base model before the first cars are delivered.

In a string of 68 tweets following the unveiling of the car, Musk described a number of the car’s new features, including its minimalist instrument panel and its increased cargo space.

The driver side dashboard is all but removed in the new model, in favor of a central touchscreen that handles everything from music to directions.

A critic on Twitter asked Musk why he would choose such a “hideous steering wheel design,” to which he responded that the prototype was not “the real steering system,” and said the final product would feel more “like a spaceship” than a normal car.

The language used by Musk in his comments – using the terms “steering system” and “steering controls” instead of “steering wheel” – led to speculation that the company would unveil a fully self-driving car at an as-of-yet unscheduled part two of the car’s unveiling.

“It will make sense after part 2,” Musk said in response to another inquiry about the lack of a dashboard.

Musk also said the car will feature two trunks and more storage capacity than any other car of the same size, with room for a bike, a seven-foot surfboard, or three children’s car seats.

In order to keep up with demand for the new electric cars, Tesla will double the number of high-speed charging stations to 7,200 by the end of next year, and will vastly increase the number of slower destination chargers from 3,689 to 15,000.