Tesla received more than 115,000 pre-orders for its next electric vehicle, the Model 3, the day before it even unveiled a prototype of the car, the company said on Thursday.
Elon Musk, chief executive, announced the flood of interest from potential buyers at an event in Los Angeles where he took the wraps off the car. Although deliveries are not due to start until late next year, Mr Musk has targeted sales of 500,000 by 2020, a figure that would fulfil his ambition of creating the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle.
Tesla began taking pre-orders in its 215 stores around the world on Thursday morning, causing lines 200-300 people long in some North American locations.
Analysts at Credit Suisse had estimated that 20,000 people put down deposits in Tesla stores, a level of interest they described as “really astounding” for a vehicle the buyers hadn’t seen.
Unveiling the first prototypes of the car, designed as a starter luxury vehicle and priced at $35,000 for the base model, Mr Musk confirmed that Tesla expected to hit its production target of late 2017 for the vehicle.
The new car will have a range of at least 215 miles on a single charge, he said, describing that figure as a minimum that the company expected to exceed.
He revealed that even the base model would accelerate from 0-60mph in less than six seconds, come with the sensors needed to turn it into an autonomous vehicle, and have free access to the company’s network of supercharging stations.
Tesla’s shares had fallen back 54 per cent since last summer, before rebounding by more than 50 per cent in the six-week run-up to Thursday’s unveiling.