tesla motors parking lot model 3 announcement

Meet the new, cheaper Tesla

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Tesla has been leading the electric car revolution, but it has been doing it with the Model S, a car that can cost around $100,000, cutting out the majority of car owners. Tesla is trying to change that with the announcement of the Model 3, the first moderately priced mass-market electric vehicle it will produce, the car company confirmed to the Daily Dot.

Speaking to Auto Express, Musk said the Model 3 will be the first moderately priced vehicle from Tesla, a mid-sized sedan that will retail for around $35,000. “We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car,” Musk told Auto Express. “So I said we had the model S and X, we might as well have the E."

Musk told Auto Express he expects the Model 3 will have a range of more than 200 miles per full charge. Tesla's new Gigafactory will be crucial to the Model 3, Musk told Auto Express. The Gigafactory, which will be the largest manufacturer of electric car batteries in the world and is slated to open in 2017, will allow Tesla to make cheaper batteries, bringing down the price of the Model 3. Tesla is still deciding where to put the $5 billion facility, with Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas as options.

Tesla tells The Daily Dot it has 143 superchargers—chargers that can recharge Teslas in about an hour and are free to use—around the globe, with 102 of those located in North America. Some 98 percent of the U.S. population and parts of Canada will be within range of a supercharger by the end of 2015, according to Tesla.

The Model 3 is expected to be unveiled in 2016 and go on sale by 2017, according to Musk. In contrast to the Tesla Model S, which competes with vehicles like the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Model 3 will be in priced to compete with the BMW 3-Series, with the base model coming in cheaper than the Hyundai Genesis.

H/T Auto Express | Photo via Don McCullough/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)