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Travelers who prefer to drive now have another choice of vehicle. Tesla is unveiling its first mass-market car. The company's electric vehicles have been priced beyond the reach of most buyers. Now Tesla's Model 3 is set to sell for $35,000, after which, you get federal and state tax credits, bringing the total price a lot closer to what many people can afford. NPR's Sonari Glinton is plugged into this story.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Even before anyone got the chance to see the new car, thousands of people stood out in front of Tesla stores for the opportunity to put money down on a car that won't be available for quite a while. Barbara Heron was outside the Tesla, Washington, D.C., branch.
BARBARA HERON: I've never read, seen or heard of such an event where people are waiting for a car that they haven't seen.
GLINTON: I'm at the Model 3 launch here at Tesla headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Elon Musk is on the stage, and if you come to one of these events, you realize that it reminds you kind of of, I don't know, a revival meeting. Let's take a listen.
ELON MUSK: Somebody asked me this question recently - can you fit a seven-foot-long surf board on the inside? The answer is, yes.
GLINTON: The Model 3 is Tesla's attempt at a mass-market vehicle. Tesla's been in the car game for a while, but it's most popular car sells for about 75 grand. This one is expected to come in at about $28,000 after tax credits. And it'll get a range of 215 miles, which has Tesla true-believers really excited.
JUDY VERNOY: We love our Model S so much that if this is anything almost as good as that, it's worth the risk. We ordered the car before we really knew much about it.
GLINTON: That's Judy Vernoy. She and her husband Mark drove up from San Diego to join hundreds of customers - fans really - to see the car that they already put money down on. After buying $100,000 Model S, they say they're betting on the company more than anything else.
MARK VERNOY: Usually we buy a car and we keep it. And we keep it for 20 or 30 years. We don't turn them in every year. And so it's important for us for Tesla to be successful.
GLINTON: The Vernoys aren't the only ones hoping for the success of the company. Despite its fame and cult status, Tesla has yet to turn a profit. This is the big bet for Tesla. And for investors and Wall Street, the proof won't be in the pudding but in the Model 3. Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Hawthorne, Calif.
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