It’s here! The Tesla Model 3 rolled off the assembly line at the end of last month, with the first 30 models heading to Tesla employee buyers.

Charging ahead

With a range of up to 500 km on a single charge (a Model 3 owner in Italy drove over 1000 km this weekend!) and a price tag to match, the Model 3 represents Tesla’s first real attempt to get their vehicles to the masses – and Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is taking no prisoners.

Retailing just shy of R500 000, the Model 3 compares favourably with the BMW 330i – it’ biggest competitor. The Model 3 also comes standard with a host of features like back-up camera, parking sensors and Autopilot, that will cost upwards of R50 000 to add to the BMW.

Tesla has received more than half a million reservations for the Model 3 to date, and hopes to manufacture 500 000 cars in 2018 – more than 5 times the number of vehicles Tesla produced in 2016. Musk is pushing to raise $1.5 billion in bonds to speed up the roll out, which plans to reach 5000 cars per week by the end of the year.

Flirting with disaster

It’s not all roses and clover for Tesla and Musk though. Tesla teetered on the edge of bankruptcy in 2010, and Musk – who made his fortune when he sold online payment-service Paypal in 2002 – had to sink almost all of own his cash into the company to keep it afloat.

Super-Musk managed to save the day then, but Tesla’s aspiration to be manufacturer, energy supplier and retailer for their vehicles, means that they are under pressure to succeed on three very different, equally challenging fronts: in order for their Super Charger

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The uncertainty surrounding Tesla’s future has reflected in their ping-ponging share prices, which, in spite of the hype surrounding the Model 3’s release, took a significant hit last week before climbing to reach their highest numbers in over a month.

The stress seems to have taken its toll on Musk’s personal life, too. News broke that he and Aquaman actress Amber Heard split after attending a music festival in Australia this weekend, marking the end of a year-long relationship.

Despite the challenges facing Tesla, interest in the company and the values it and Elon represent remains high. Reviews for the Model 3 have been glowing, and Musk has showed no signs of slowing down his plan for global conquest – his massive battery-producing Gigafactory will cover over 3 million square meters by the time construction is finished in 2018!

Only one question remains:

Will the Model 3 make it to South Africa?

Musk posted on his official Twitter account last year that the Model 3 would be headed to SA, but so far there has been no official word from Tesla about the new vehicle reaching our shores.

When it gets here – and yes, I said when, not if – it’s going to cause quite a splash.

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