PALO ALTO, California — The 2017 Tesla Model 3, the electric carmaker's first affordable vehicle for the middle class, will be unveiled later today, but Tesla may be keeping a few cards close to the vest.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that today is "Part 1 of the Model 3 unveil. Part 2, which takes things to another level, will be closer to production."
He added: "You will see the car very clearly, but some important elements will be added and some will evolve."
In a March 29 tweet, Musk said: "Looks like we may need to increase production plans for the Model 3."
The $35,000 Model 3 debut is one of the most critical vehicle unveilings of the year, as Tesla moves from a specialty EV maker to a mass-market player in electric transport.
But Tesla isn't expected to start deliveries of the car until 2017.
Model 3 reservations will be accepted in Tesla stores on March 31 and online April 1. Buyers must put down a $1,000 deposit.
Tesla said the way for buyers "to get a better spot in the queue" is to visit their local Tesla store when it opens on March 31. The second way is to make a reservation online at TeslaMotors.com when the live unveiling starts at 8:30 p.m. PT.
Analysts say the Model 3 range is expected to include a variety of body styles, including a sedan, coupe, cabriolet and small SUV. Electric range is expected to be in excess of 200 miles, depending on the size of the battery offered.
Adam Jonas, an auto analyst at Morgan Stanley, said consumers should expect "more advanced leasing/financing options for the Model 3 to broaden the affordability and accessibility of the product to a wider consumer audience."
The price of the average configuration of the Model 3 may be "in excess of $60K at first," Jonas predicted in an analyst briefing.
RBC Capital Markets predicts that the average selling price of the Model 3 is likely to be "$50K to start."
"It is a testament to Tesla's brand there are consumers willing to put down $1K sight unseen for a vehicle they won't receive for a few years," wrote Joseph Spak, an auto analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
Edmunds says: The wraps will come off the Tesla Model 3 later today and car shoppers should get answers to some of the important questions about this highly anticipated EV.