Tesla is looking to woo investors and fans with an audacious move, an early production run for the Model 3. Tesla’s most affordable vehicle yet received some 373,000 preorders last year, even though buyers were fully aware the car will only ship in late 2017 at the earliest.
Tesla’s Elon Musk intended to start full-scale Model 3 production in July 2017, a move that concerned analysts and suppliers, as the deadline would be difficult to achieve, especially giving Tesla’s previous target misses.
However, a person familiar with Tesla’s plans told Reuters that Tesla plans to start Model 3 production on February 20th. If the production pilot is successful, Tesla would be able to share the news with shareholders two days later during its scheduled fourth quarter earnings call. Tesla would also be able to better answer questions about the Model 3’s rollout that are expected for the call.
“What better way to stoke the fan base and Wall Street than to wheel out pre-production models,” a Tesla exec said.
It’s unclear how many Tesla Model 3s will be manufactured this month, but Reuters speculates that Tesla is looking to test the assembly system and the quality of parts. Therefore, it’s likely Tesla will only make a few Model 3 units in time for the earnings call.
Musk has a bold plan for its car company, building 500,000 cars per year by 2018. That would mean Tesla is looking to manufacture half a million units this year, which would be four to five times more cars than last year.
The source, however, did not offer any insight on Tesla’s schedule for the Model 3. A different source told Reuters that design changes were still being made to Model 3, which might delay the full-scale production.