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If Elon Musk has his way, this Friday is the beginning of the electric-car revolution

AP Photo/Justin Pritchard
Tesla’s Model 3 rolls out.
  • Dave Gershgorn
By Dave Gershgorn

Artificial intelligence reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

The promise of a sleek electric car that can drive itself on the highway is finally here—if you slapped down a $1,000 pre-order, of course.

Tesla, Silicon Valley’s high-tech counteroffensive on Detroit, has announced that its first mass-market Model 3 cars will be rolling off production lines Friday (July 7). Manufacturing of the vehicles will ramp from there, and Tesla expects to be making 20,000 cars per month by December—and a total 500,000 cars in 2018.

Tesla hasn’t revealed how many pre-orders its received, but analysis of the public company’s financials suggest upwards of 400,000 people are in line. For comparison, Ford (which is now a less valuable company than Tesla) typically sells more than 200,000 vehicles per month.

The Model 3 costs around $35,000 before adding on premium features—including the Autopilot self-driving add on—though US buyers can recoup a $7,500 tax credit since the car is electric. Individual states also offer perks for buying electric.

Of course, the Model 3 just fits into Musk’s master plan of an electric car in every garage powered by solar panels on every roof. (He naturally sells the solar panels as well, plus the batteries to store the excess energy.)

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