Tesla Motors built its reputation making sporty, sexy and very expensive electric cars.
It's staking its future on something more affordable.
Tesla plans to unveil its Model 3 electric car Thursday night at its Los Angeles design studio. At a starting price of $35,000 — before federal and state government incentives — the Model 3 is less than half the cost ofTesla's previous models. The car is expected to have a range of at least 200 miles when fully charged, about double what drivers get from competitors in its price range, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.
The Model 3 is the most serious test yet of 13-year-old Tesla's ability to go from a niche player to a full-fledged automaker. It could be the car that finally makes electrics mainstream — or customers could be scared off by Tesla's limited number of stores and service centers. Either way, the Model 3 is already changing the industry, spurring competitors to speed development of electric cars and improve their battery range.
"The Model 3 is going to be a pivotal model for Tesla," said Patrick Min, a senior analyst with the car buying site TrueCar.com.
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