Tesla Model 3 Teased Ahead of Launch

Tesla Model 3 - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla Model 3 - Publicity - H 2016

Tesla's $35,000 entry-level sedan will debut later this month.

Tesla Motors has revealed for the first time what its highly anticipated entry-level sedan might look like.

A silhouette of the Model 3 next to Tesla's current cars, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, was posted Wednesday on the company's Twitter page announcing the car's March 31 debut. 

Judging from the teaser, the Model 3 will be smaller than the $79,000-and-up Model S and might share the crossover styling of the $80,000 Model X, which finally started hitting streets in late 2015 after repeated delays. 

The Model S was the best-selling large luxury sedan in the U.S. last year. The Model 3, which will have a range of at least 200 miles, is Tesla's bid to build a volume car for the mainstream market and is crucial to the company's future.

CEO Elon Musk has pledged that Tesla will manufacture 500,000 cars a year by 2020. In order to build the Model 3 in numbers sufficient to reach that goal, the company invested $6 billion in a Nevada gigafactory to mass produce lithium-ion batteries. Tesla has previously said the Model 3 will be the basis for a suite of lower-priced cars, including a compact SUV. 

If the Model 3 launches as scheduled in late 2017 — an iffy proposition given Tesla's delays getting the Model S and Model X to market — it will face competition from General Motors' Bolt, a similarly priced compact electric with a 200-mile range expected to go on sale by the end of this year.

Tesla will also have to contend with competitors to the Model S and Model X from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Aston-Martin, which are readying long-range luxury plug-in sedans and SUVs.

The Model 3 will be unveiled to members of the press and current Tesla owners at an invitation-only event at Tesla's design headquarters adjacent to the Hawthorne, Calif., airport.

Earlier reports said that Tesla would not reveal the full car, but the company has confirmed it will offer test drives.