Three years after he promised to sell an all-electric Model 3 mass-market sedan for $35,000 before incentives, Elon Musk is finally coming through. The Tesla Inc. chief executive announced Thursday that a low-priced, range version will soon be available in the U.S.
Musk also announced that the company’s cars will be sold online only. Retail stores will be converted into showrooms and information centers, he said. He didn’t say how many stores will close, or whether the shift will affect the company’s workforce.
Tesla promised a $35,000 Model 3 in March of 2016 and began taking refundable $1,000 deposits.
“We do not expect to be profitable in the first quarter,” Musk said during a conference call Thursday, because of “special charges” and the costs of sending cars to China and Europe.
There’s a lot going on,” he said. A profit in the second quarter is “likely,” he said.
Musk used his Twitter account Tuesday night to tease Thursday’s announcement. He continued teasing Wednesday, offering no details on the mystery. Between the stock market’s opening on Wednesday to the close on Thursday, Tesla stock gained more than $18 a share, or about 6 percent, finishing at $319.88.
The Model 3 news comes on the heels of a contempt charge filed against Musk on Monday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC claims Musk violated the fraud settlement reached with the agency last September by tweeting false information about the number of cars Tesla plans to produce this year, and by sending the tweet without getting corporate permission first, as the settlement requires.