Tesla Model 3 buyers can put a deposit down on March 31

Tesla Model 3 promises a 200-mile range at a starting price of $35,000 before incentives. The car will be unveiled March 31 and go into production later this year. 

Robert Galbraith/Reuters/File
A Tesla Motors logo is shown on a Tesla Model S at a Tesla Motors dealership at Corte Madera Village in California. Tesla Model 3, the automaker's lowest-cost electric vehicle yet, will be revealed at the end of March.

Tesla Motors held its quarterly conference call yesterday for its fourth-quarter and 2015 full-year financial results, and some of the numbers weren't great.

But for eager buyers and Tesla advocates, the most important news concerned the upcoming Model 3, the company's third generation of electric cars.

Long promised to deliver 200 miles at a starting price of $35,000 before incentives, we now know incrementally more about the Model 3 rollout than we did 24 hours ago.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the Model 3 will be unveiled by the end of next month, although the March 31 date came from the letter to shareholders that accompanied release of the financial results.

And, he reiterated that the new vehicle will go into production by the end of next year:

We're really looking forward to the unveiling of the Model 3 at the end of next month.

I think this is going to be really well received, and then getting into production and delivery at the end of next year.

In regard to an analyst's question on what, exactly, will be revealed about the Model 3 at the end of March, Musk responded:

Yeah, we're trying to decide whether we should show all the cards or keep a few cards close to the vest, I haven't made decision yet.

Whatever it reveals next month, however, the company believes that will be sufficient to let potential buyers decide whether they want to put down a deposit on the future car.

Very late last night, Musk tweeted:

A subsequent tweet noted that there would be no Signature Series versions of the Model 3, which traditionally would have carried a higher deposit.

Instead, Musk tweeted, the deposit will be the same "for all."

Musk noted later on in the earnings call that the company expects the first versions of the Model 3 that are delivered to be "relatively highly optioned versions."

That would follow the company's approach to both the Model S and Model X, in which it delivered the most expensive "Founder's Series" cars first, at six-figure prices.

Jason Wheeler, Tesla's new chief financial officer, noted that  investments in a new paint shop at the assembly plant in Fremont, California, will give the company the capacity it needs "all the way through Model 3."

Musk clarified that the updated paint-shop capacity would take the company up to production of 10,000 units a week.

Based on its latest projections, Tesla hopes to reach an average of 1,600 to 1,800 cars per week sometime during the course of this year.

A full transcript of the Tesla Motors Q4-2015 financial-results conference call can be read here.

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