Tesla Model 3 Mania Is On

Elon Musk surprises crowds in Century City waiting to pre-order the car

At long last, the Tesla Model 3—the somewhat more affordable version of the popular eco-car—is going on pre-sale. Today, folks were allowed to place $1,000 (refundable) deposits for the Model 3, which will be released in late 2017. No one yet knows exactly what it will look like; the image above is a Tesla fan’s fantasy rendering.

From Santa Monica to Manhattan to Australia, tens of thousands of die-hard Tesla-heads waited in line to ensure they would be the first owners of the fully-electric Model 3, which will retail for about $35,000 and be capable of traveling 200 miles on a full charge. Lines don’t typically snake around for cars—or to place deposits for cars—but brand loyalty to Tesla is extremely high.

Enigmatic Tesla CEO Elon Musk thanked his faithful customers by showing up at the Century City store this morning; see a video, via the L.A. Times, below.

If you couldn’t make it to the store today, Musk tweeted earlier that online ordering will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a presentation on the Model 3 an hour later… live from Hawthorne.