July 29 (UPI) -- Tesla Motors Inc. unveiled its $35,000 Model 3 sedan and delivered 30 of the vehicles to employees on Friday night.
During a ceremony at the U.S. automaker's manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif., Tesla CEO Elon Musk presented the new, more affordable electric cars to a group of 30 employees selected to be the first owners.
"This is a great day for Tesla," Musk said. "It was never our goal just to make expensive cars. We wanted to make cars everyone could buy."
Musk added that Tesla has received a net number of more than half a million reservations from prospective buyers, who paid a $1,000 deposit on the new model. If those reservations become actual sales, the Model 3 will be among the best-selling vehicles in the United States.
He said the Model 3 would officially go on sale soon.
The Model 3 features a more minimalist design than the company's other cars to ease production, but Musk still anticipates a grueling amount of work to fill the thousands of orders already made.
"We are going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell," he said.
Overall, Tesla plans to more than quadruple its annual production rate, to 500,000 vehicles, by 2018.
The first run of Model 3s to go on sale will feature a standard battery pack that can drive for 220 miles on a single charge and is capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds.
Tesla also plans to offer a long-range version of the Model 3 with a larger battery that can travel 310 miles and is capable of higher speeds.
The company also said the Model 3 will be equipped with the hardware necessary for full self-driving capability and expects the car will be capable of driving itself through updates as self-driving technology improves.