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Sustainable Transport: Tesla Sees 325K Pre-Orders

Sustainable Transport: Tesla Sees 325K Pre-Orders

by MICHAEL ARMSTRONG | April 8, 2016

The future of energy may be here sooner than even Elon Musk had thought. And that's a good thing for more than just the automobile industry. After all, Tesla isn't just in the electric car business  it's also in the renewable energy business.

After just one week of pre-orders for the new, intentionally more affordable Model 3 electric vehicle, the iconic entrepreneur says his expectations already have been surpassed many times over. Yesterday on its website, in a blog post entitled The Week that Electric Vehicles Went MainstreamTesla announced:

We’ve now received more than 325,000 reservations, which corresponds to about $14 billion in implied future sales, making this the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever. 

On April 1, Musk had tweeted that he is “definitely going to need to rethink production planning,” which at the time, many may have dismissed as an April Fools Day lark. But now the company says in all seriousness that it has received $1,000 deposits for each of the new reservations, which means its pre-orders already outnumber the total of all Tesla vehicles sold since production started in 2012. So, how will Tesla mass produce an electric vehicle that supposedly combines affordability, style, and a range of several hundred miles?

The answer lies in the desert. No, not the salt flats of Bolivia, where its lithium is harvested, but in Tesla’s massive, 5.5-million-sq-ft Gigafactory outside Sparks, NV. Still under construction, the facility is expected to start producing Model 3 cars late next year and reach its full capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020. (Above, watch a brief drone tour from late March.)

The plan to mass produce the Model 3 "sustainable transport" would place Tesla firmly in a position to disrupt ground transportation as we know it, but the potential does not stop there...

Mass production of electric vehicles with greater range also has tremendous implications for reshaping public transportation everywhere. In fact, all seven finalists in the USDOT's ongoing Smart Cities Challenge rely heavily on some sort of alternative, renewable energy generation and use.

Indeed, one of Tesla’s stated corporate goals is to lead the charge to "sustainable transport", which holds the undeniable potential to benefit all of the built environment ('non-built', as well). In 2014, buildings were responsible for 41% of energy consumption in the United States. With that in mind, Musk last year launched Tesla Energy, a division now focused on reducing fossil fuel consumption by buildings.

So, while the public sector continues to dither and spin its wheels in several areas that would seem to warrant urgent attention, at least one well-heeled, private citizen is intent on managing the future before it gets here. If this truly is "the week when electric vehicles went mainstream", then we all may want to take a moment and lift our heads from our laptops and iPhones to notice that our collective future may actually be a little brighter.

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