Given that Tesla Motors is rather preoccupied with the roll-out of the new Model X SUV, not to mention trying to increase 2015 deliveries to a goal of 55,000 units, it’s probably too much to ask for an update on the status of the more affordable forthcoming Tesla Model 3.
But we do have one small update, courtesy of a Tweet from the big man himself: CEO Elon Musk. According to this Tweet, the Tesla Model 3 will start production in about 2 years – or some time in mid-to-late 2017 – because a “fully operational Gigafactory” is a necessity.
Model 3, our smaller and lower cost sedan will start production in about 2 years. Fully operational Gigafactory needed.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 2, 2015
The Tesla Gigafactory is a massive lithium-ion battery-production facility under construction near Reno, Nevada. The intention of the factory is to drive down per-kWh battery costs by utilizing economies of scale.
Of course, there is a subtle but important difference between “fully operational” and “fully operational.” The Gigafactory isn’t slated to reach its full theoretical capacity until 2020; several stages of partial completion along the way will allow for production up until this date.
When fully operational, according to Autoblog, the Gigafactory will be producing 50 GWh of lithium-ion capacity, and should drive battery pack costs down by about 30 percent. Meeting that goal at least partway will be essential to allowing the Tesla Model 3 to keep the promise of a $35,000 sticker price.