Tesla has hundreds of thousands of people waiting to get behind the wheel of its mass-market Model 3, but meeting that demand won't be a small feat for a company that expects to deliver no more than 90,000 vehicles this year.
With more than 325,000 pre-orders placed in the first week after the $35,000 Model 3 was unveiled, Musk said in a Wednesday earnings call he has set a production date for July 2017. But he admitted that date was likely "impossible."
Musk explained that setting the deadline keeps pressure on suppliers to try to stay close to schedule.
"We are on track to achieve volume Model 3 production and deliveries in late 2017,” Musk wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Of course, in order to meet that time frame, we will be holding both ourselves and our suppliers accountable to be ready for volume production in advance of that timing.”
Musk said he expects the company will produce 100,000 to 200,000 cars by the end of next year, allowing Tesla to deliver to the first customers who put a $1,000 deposit down for the mid-sized sedan. While the specifics of how Tesla plans to ramp up production are unclear, Musk said in the letter to shareholders it "will likely require some additional capital."
Excitement around the affordable Tesla has been so huge, the company said more than 115,000 pre-orders were placed for the Model 3 even before people first set eyes on the vehicle the evening of March 31.
The March unveiling was part one of the reveal, Musk has said, noting that he plans to reveal "part two" at a later date.
On the design front, the Model 3 fits into the Tesla family with sleek lines and boasts a roof area with a continuous pane of glass, giving the five adults it can seat extra headroom and the feeling of having more space, Musk said.
The key metric many people were waiting for was range per charge. The Model 3 can go 215 miles on a single charge. Musk also committed to doubling the number of Tesla's public charging stations from 3,600 to 7,200.
It also includes semi-autonomous driving features, including automatic lane changing and lane keeping, and can accelerate from zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds.