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Tesla plans to unveil its $35,000 Model 3 in March 2016

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Production will ramp up in "late 2017"

Tesla is aiming to reveal the Model 3, its answer to BMW's 3-series, in March 2016. CEO Elon Musk announced the target date during today's call with Tesla investors. "We are hoping to show the Model 3 in March of next year," he said. Musk emphasized that the date is tentative and plans could change in the months ahead. But right now, that's the goal. Production of the Model 3, which will be able to drive 200 miles on a single charge, would start in mid or late 2017. "Late 2017 is probably more realistic," Musk added. It's been rumored that Tesla is targeting a price around $35,000.

The Model 3 is set to become Tesla's mainstream vehicle, with the Model S and Model X retaining their higher price points, superior range, and more luxurious features. The Model 3, which will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S, is a crucial project for the company as it looks to make its own electric vehicles more affordable and attainable for a much larger audience of car shoppers.

But first comes the Model X, which has been in production for some time and is finally nearing availability. Musk said that the company will begin accepting online customization orders in July. "This is really a great car. I mean, because it has such a low center of mass, it handles like a sports car even though it's an SUV," Musk said. "The performance is just surreal. Nothing else is comparable." Tesla had a decent first quarter, posting a smaller net loss than Wall Street had expected and announcing 10,045 Model S deliveries.

Verge Video: Our first ride in the Model X/i>