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Image credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tesla will unveil its $35,000 Model 3 on March 31st

Want a Tesla EV that's a little more affordable? Mark March 31st in your calendar.

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AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tesla has long promised a $35,000 electric car is on the way, and in today's earnings release (PDF) it announced that we'll get to see the Model 3 on March 31st, ahead of it going on sale in "late 2017." That's in addition to the currently shipping Model S sedan (shown above) and Model X SUV, and the company recently confirmed it still expects to hit that $35k price target before applying electric vehicle incentives. Also, its battery building gigafactory -- key to achieving that mass market price for the Model 3 -- is up and running in Nevada, with Powerwall units produced there already in use by customers.

The letter also takes aim at recent news regarding reliability for Tesla's automobiles, saying that the "cost of first year repair claims on cars produced in 2015" was half that of 2014, and one quarter of what it saw in 2012. Hopefully that means things are trending the right way as it cranks up production. Tesla built more cars in Q4 than it ever had before, with 14,037 EVs rolling out, and it's expecting to reach 1,000 Model Xs built every week during Q2.

Of course, all that building up isn't cheap, and Tesla said that its net loss nearly tripled to $320 million. There are reasons to be positive however, as Elon Musk said the company expects to be cash flow positive starting next month, and that the Model S was the best-selling "comparably priced" sedan in the US last year. In 2016 Tesla is planning to open 80 more retail and service centers, and add some 300 new Supercharger locations. We're listening in to the company's earnings call now, and will update this post if there's any new information.

Update: According to Elon Musk, the Model 3 is designed to ease manufacturing, and it will be significantly lighter than the Model S. The initial sales will be "relatively highly optioned versions of the car" so don't expect to see many base models at the beginning. He also noted the problem with the Model X launch where some publications misunderstood the high-end Signature series pricing as the SUV's base price. He also hasn't made a decision about how much of the new car to show at its reveal next month, so we'll all just have to wait and see.

Update 2: And now Musk has announced in a tweet that the car will be available for reservations starting March 31st. Get all the details here.

Even on our competitors' home turf and in countries without government incentives to purchase electric vehicles, Model S is winning. For example, in Switzerland, Model S outsold the Mercedes Benz S-Class, the BMW 7- Series, the Porsche Panamera and the Audi A-8 combined for the full year, and also outsold the Mercedes Benz E-Class. In Germany in Q4, Model S outsold the Porsche Panamera. Finally, across all of Europe last year Model S outsold the Audi A8 and A7 combined and the BMW 7-Series and 6-Series combined.

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