It's crunch time for Elon Musk and Tesla.

On March 31, Musk will unveil the electric car that he hopes will change the auto industry forever: the $35,000 Model 3. Half the price of Tesla's Model S, the Model 3 represents Musk's first real attempt at offering a mass-market vehicle that could pave the way for an industry-wide transition away from fuel-based autos to electric cars.

Though $35,000 is by no means cheap, it should be a low enough price to help drive Tesla's sales above the 51,000 cars it sold last year. Musk expects to sell 93,000 in 2016, but that would still equal just 4 percent of the combined number of cars sold last year by BMW and Mercedes, whom Musk sees as his competition, Quartz reports.

Aside from the price, here's everything we know about the Model 3 so far.

It could be years before Model 3's actually hit the road.

Tesla will begin accepting pre-orders of the Model 3 immediately, but production is not expected to start before 2017, Fortune reports. Based on previous Tesla timelines, it could be another two years after that before consumers finally get behind the wheel of the Model 3. The first 200,000 customers, however, could qualify for a $7,500 tax credit, putting a nice dent in the purchase price.

The first version will be a 4-door sedan.

The Model 3 will debut as a standard 4-door sedan that's slightly smaller than the Model S. Rumors have been swirling about a crossover or mini-SUV being the likely next model to follow the first edition, but Tesla hasn't given any indication of its plans for future models.

The maximum distance for a full charge is 200 miles.

The Model 3 won't be able be to go quite as far as the Model S's 208 miles on a single charge, but it still beats the Nissan Leaf's 107-mile range handily. Future versions of the Model 3 are expected to include options for bigger batteries.

One of the biggest unanswered questions is whether the Model 3 will come with autonomous driving mode. Every Tesla to roll off the assembly line since September 2014 comes equipped with Autopilot hardware that allows for some level of autonomy thanks to a forward-looking camera and sensors that detect objects in a full 360 degrees. The technology is referred to as "semi-autonomous," as it still requires drivers to be alert and keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

 

Published on: Mar 28, 2016