Elon Musk tweeted the date he will deliver the first mass-market Tesla Model 3 by Steve LeVine

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced (in his favorite way, by tweet) that he will unveil what he hopes will be his breakaway electric car, the Model 3, in March. As previously promised, it will cost $35,000. But it will take until the fall of 2017 to deliver the first vehicles. Here is the tweet.

Model 3, our smaller and lower cost sedan will start production in about 2 years. Fully operational Gigafactory needed.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 2, 2015

The announcement is not a surprise—Musk has said for several years now that he will deliver the mass-market sedan in 2017. But now he appears to be making it more official (in the series of three tweets continued below, he also said he will deliver the much-anticipated crossover Tesla X on Sept. 29).

With same options, Model X is $5k more than an S due to greater size & body complexity. Sig Series is fully loaded, hence high price.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 2, 2015

First production cars will be handed over on Sept 29 at our Fremont factory

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 2, 2015

He said the time is needed to finish the so-called Gigafactory, the gigantic lithium-ion battery factory near Reno, Nevada that is intended to drive down the price of his cars.

The Model 3 is important for two reasons: its price, at the low end of luxury-cars such as the BMW 3 Series; and its range, which he has said in the past will be at least 200 miles on a single charge.

A number of rivals plan to unveil their own cars with similar capability in around the same time frame, including GM, VW and BMW, making the end of the decade something of a possible tipping point in the electric car age.

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