With Tesla’s All-electric Model 3 Now a Reality, CEO Elon Musk Warns Employees of Impending “Production Hell” [Updated]

elon musk handover event red production model 3
Elon Musk appears proud of what Tesla has accomplished with the Model 3 (Image: Tesla).

Tesla’s master plan has always involved the creation of an affordable, mass-produced, all-electric car. This objective is now within reach. Years of blood, sweat and tears have culminated in Model 3 — Tesla’s first electric vehicle for the masses.

On July 28, Tesla proudly delivered the first thirty production Model 3s during a handover event at their factory in Fremont, California. The man of the moment — Tesla CEO Elon Musk — arrived at the handover event in a shiny new red Model 3, and appeared jubilant as he took to the stage.

According to Musk, a total of fifty Model 3s were actually manufactured in July — the remaining twenty will be used for “engineering validation.”

tesla ceo elon musk handover event red production model 3
Elon Musk takes to the stage to handover the first thirty Model 3s (Image: Tesla).

The first production Model 3s looked stunning parked at Fremont’s Supercharger station. What seemed a little odd, however, was that only a few of the new owners were seen walking over to the Model 3s during Tesla’s webcast.

Model 3s ready for handover at Fremont’s Supercharger station (Image: Tesla).

There have been minimal cosmetic changes to the Model 3 since the first prototype was revealed back in March 2016. One minor change is to the front. “We softened the nose’s frown a little,” said Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla Chief Designer, as he presented a production Model 3 to Motor Trend for a test drive. Further, there are apparently a number of new proximity sensors on the Model 3, and the flap on the charging port now flips upwards.

tesla model 3 charging fremont supercharger
The production Model 3’s front has softer lines (Image: Tesla).

With the first thirty Model 3s delivered, Tesla now faces the daunting task of volume production, while keeping Model S and Model X production on track.

“Welcome to production hell,” Musk warned Tesla employees in the audience. Just how long will this hell last? “For at least six months, maybe longer,” he said.

Musk is not kidding, either. As of Friday July 28, the number of Model 3 reservations was an anxiety-inducing 455,000. To further increase the heat, apparently over 1,800 Model 3s are being added to the reservation list each day since the handover event on Friday.

 Tesla Model 3 Pricing, Specifications and Initial Deliveries

The standard Model 3 will be good for around 220 miles (354 km) on a single charge, and will retail for $35,000 (minus applicable incentives). The standard Model 3 is no slouch, capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in only 5.6 seconds.

The long range Model 3, with its larger battery pack, should get about 310 miles (499 km) per charge. However, it will set you back another $9,000, taking the base price to $44,000. The long range Model 3 is even more potent than the standard version, rocketing from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.1 seconds. Impressive for a car weighing over 3,800 lbs.

There has been no confirmation yet regarding battery pack capacity for either version Model 3.

tesla model 3 fremont
The long range Model 3 will be good for around 310 miles (499 km) per charge (Image: Tesla).

In comparison, the $37,495 Chevy Bolt EV has an estimated range of about 238 miles (383 km) per charge of its 60 kWh battery. The Bolt is nowhere near as quick as the Model 3 though, taking around 6.5 seconds to get from 0-60 mph.

Tesla’s Model 3 joins the ranks of their existing Model S and Model X, making for one formidable all-electric lineup (Figure 1).

Tesla Model S Model X Model 3 US price list October 2017
Figure 1: Tesla specifications and US pricing – [Updated] October 2017 (Data: Tesla).
Tesla has long touted the Model 3 as an affordable alternative to gasoline powered cars. However, reservation holders hanging out for the $35,000 version will just have to wait.

Apparently, initial Model 3s will come pre-configured with the long range battery and premium upgrades package. This adds $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to the Model 3’s base price, bringing it up to $49,000.

There will only be three customisation options available to begin with: wheel size, paint colour and Autopilot features. Also, initial vehicles will all be single motor, rear-wheel drive. Tesla are limiting options at the outset to try and make manufacturing as trouble-free as possible. This will hopefully ensure a smooth production ramp.

The first several thousand Model 3s have been earmarked for Tesla employees and investors, a move which facilitates internal feedback on the vehicle. Should any problems arise, they can be dealt with promptly and efficiently before the Model 3 makes its way to the masses.

According to Tesla, reservation holders in the US general public will have to wait until late October 2017 for deliveries to begin.

Apparently, additional configurations — including the $35,000 Model 3 with standard battery and standard equipment — will become available to certain reservation holders around November 2017.

tesla model 3
Expect to wait until around November to get your hands on the $35,000 Model 3 (Image: Tesla).
Tesla Model 3 Production Timeline

The Model 3 production ramp will follow an S-curve which, in an ideal world, would look similar to Figure 2. In other words, production begins slowly, increases exponentially, then flattens out as it reaches a maximum.

tesla model 3 production s curve
Figure 2: The Model 3 production ramp will (approximately) follow an S-curve (Image: Tesla).

In reality, a production ramp does not follow a smooth curve. Production rates can plateau, and even decrease, due to manufacturing problems and, more commonly, parts shortages — if just a single part is missing, a car cannot be completed.

Hopefully, all of the Model 3’s 10,000 unique parts are now arriving, in volume, at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

From Figure 2, Tesla aspire to achieve a 5,000 unit production week before the end of the year.

Looking further down the road, Elon Musk is confident that they will have achieved a 10,000 unit production week towards the end of 2018. This is in addition to Model S and Model X production, which is already approaching the top of their own S-curve, maxing out at around 100,000 units (combined) per year.

In terms of the dual motor, all-wheel drive Model 3, it is apparently scheduled to begin production in (US) Spring 2018. Further, Musk Tweeted regarding the promised performance Model 3:

Live outside the US? International deliveries of left-hand drive vehicles should begin in the second half of 2018 (depending on regulatory approval). Expect production of right-hand drive vehicles in 2019.

If I Order a Model 3 Today, When Can I Expect Delivery?

If you place a Model 3 order in the US now, expect delivery towards the end of 2018. Additionally, Tesla owners receive priority Model 3 orders, so you can accelerate your delivery by purchasing a Model S or Model X first.

Remember, Model S and Model X are available for delivery in as little as one or two months.


(Price – $35,000)

Standard Battery

  • Range: 220 miles (EPA estimated)
  • Supercharging rate: 130 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 30 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 32A)


  • 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 130 mph


  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Front center console with open storage and two USB ports
tesla model 3 interior dashboard head on
15″ touchscreen is standard equipment on the Model 3 (Image: Tesla).


  • Onboard maps and navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control using the Tesla app
  • Voice activated controls
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling and media streaming
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat to maximize cargo options
  • Back-up camera
  • Auto dimming rear-view mirror
  • One-touch power windows throughout
  • Power-adjustable side mirrors
  • 12-volt power outlet


  • Full LED exterior lighting
  • Eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking
  • Six front row and two side curtain airbags
  • Three-point safety belts with belt-reminders for driver and four passengers
  • Two LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments in second row
  • Electronic stability and traction control
  • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic parking brake
  • Child safety locks
  • Anti-theft alarm system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system


  • Vehicle: 4 year, 50,000 mile limited warranty
  • Battery (Standard): 8 year, 100,000 mile
  • Battery (Long Range): 8 year, 120,000 mile
Tesla Model 3 OPTIONS

Long Range Battery ($9,000)

  • Range: 310 miles
  • Supercharging rate: 170 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 37 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 40A)
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 140 mph


  • Solid Black (Standard)
  • Midnight Silver Metallic ($1,000)
  • Deep Blue Metallic ($1,000)
  • Silver Metallic ($1,000)
  • Pearl White Multi-Coat ($1,000)
  • Red Multi-Coat ($1,000)


  • 18” Aero (Standard)
  • 19” Sport ($1,500)

Premium Upgrades Package ($5,000)

  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones
tesla model 3 interior glass roof
A glass roof is part of the Model 3’s premium upgrades package (Image: Tesla).

Enhanced Autopilot ($5,000)

  • Match speed to traffic conditions
  • Keep within a lane
  • Automatically change lanes
  • Transition from one freeway to another
  • Exit a freeway
  • Self-park at your destination
  • Additional features will roll out over time via software updates

Full Self-Driving Capability ($3,000) (requires Enhanced Autopilot)

In the future, Model 3 will be capable of conducting trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.

From the pricing above, a fully loaded Model 3, in any colour other than black, will set you back $59,500 (minus applicable incentives). Remember that all Model 3s are shipped with full self-driving hardware, which you don’t have to purchase straight away — it can be paid for and unlocked at a later stage.

Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy is unfolding as planned. We wish Tesla a smooth Model 3 production ramp — undoubtedly the most stressful part of manufacturing. And we look forward to seeing our roads inundated with Model 3s over the coming months, a sure sign that the electric revolution is gaining momentum.

Sources: Handover Party, Press Kit, Reservations FAQ, Tesla Info, Q2 2017 Update Letter, Q2 2017 Financial Results Q&A Conference Call.