Tesla's much talked about Model 3 sedan is making its first public appearance in the Bay Area on Friday.
Part of the reason for the relatively slow rollout of the solar roof tiles is that the company's focus in recent months has been on resolving the Model 3 production bottleneck.
Visitors to Tesla's store in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and Century City Mall in Los Angeles, core markets for first Model 3 deliveries, will have the opportunity to view, sit in, and experience the much-talked-about mass-market electric auto.
Along with this milestone, the company reports that it has begun installation of the Solar Roof for "non-employee homeowners", a reference to the pilot projects which were installed on the homes of top executives and other employees. The public - including prospective buyers and those who have already put down $1,000 deposits for the vehicle - will be able to see it, and check out the interior, indefinitely at Stanford Shopping Center and Century City Mall in Los Angeles starting Friday.
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Tesla is now ramping up the production of the Model 3. According to a Tesla owners forum, it has 25 charging stalls. On Jan. 3, the Palo Alto company said it wouldn't make that target, but would by the end of June.
It also follows on comments back in November from Tesla CEO Elon Musk that the product was being put through a half-year testing program before full deployment, and that "it just takes a little while to get this behemoth rolling".
TeslaA promo image of the Tesla Solar Roof.
Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk pushed the company's anti-selling efforts towards the mass market auto, explicitly reminding customers that the Model 3, despite being the newest vehicle in Tesla's lineup, does not feature superior features compared to its larger, more expensive siblings.
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Incidentally, Tesla also says Panasonic's Heterojunction Intrinsic Thin Film (HIT) PV modules have been being made at the site since last summer.
Tesla says it hopes that putting the Model 3 on display at its stores will give customers a chance to experience the auto while they wait to take delivery.
New research on the fuel costs of electric vehicles may help push consumers toward plug-and-drive cars such as the Model 3. In California, the average gas vehicle costs an annual $1,407, compared to $580 for an electric vehicle, the researchers reported this month.
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