Tesla Model 3 Orders Nearing 400,000

Michael Walker
Tesla Model 3

As reservations for the entry-level Tesla continue to rise, Ellen DeGeneres weighs in: "I want one of those new Teslas."

Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 pre-orders continue their Apple iPhone-like fever. 

Tesla vp business development Diarmuid O'Connell said in a speech last week that reservations for the Model 3 are closing in on 400,000, an unprecedented level of interest for a car that not only hasn't been built but won't be available until late 2017 at the earliest.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk's uncanny ability to turn his company's cars into pop-cultural totems years before they are even on the market got a boost when Ellen DeGeneres name-checked the brand during a show-closing monologue against Mississippi's new law that allows businesses to refuse to serve gay couples.

"We need to remember that we are more similar than we are different, and we all want the same things," DeGeneres said toward the end of the speech. "Love, acceptance, kindness — and I want one of those new Teslas."

Meanwhile, Tesla has hired an augmented reality expert, Milan Kovac, who previously designed the first augmented reality motorcycle helmet, Electrek reported.

The Model 3 prototypes have no traditional instrument cluster in front of the driver, just a 15-inch center console display, sparking speculation that Tesla plans a full augmented reality heads-up display for the car, which the company would reveal during the Model 3's second unveiling in 2017.  

Musk predicted that Model 3 orders may cross 500,000 if they continue at the current pace.