Tesla fans camp out, form long lines to sign up for new Model 3

Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:04pm EDT
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By Mike Blake

LA JOLLA, Calif. (Reuters) - Fans of luxury electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O: Quote) camped out overnight and stood in long lines to put down deposits on its new more affordable model, due to be unveiled at an event on Thursday evening.

In scenes reminiscent of the launch of Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) products, would-be buyers of the Silicon Valley car maker's Model 3 pitched tents and set up camping chairs on the sidewalk outside Tesla stores, which began taking pre-orders for the vehicle.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk plans to unveil a Model 3 prototype in Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m. PDT (0330 GMT, Friday), with online pre-orders starting one hour earlier than that.

Musk said in a tweet that Tesla has added more countries including India, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Ireland to the Model 3 order page.

The vehicle will go into production in late 2017 and is expected to cost around $35,000 before tax breaks.

The line at a Pasadena Tesla store near Los Angeles stretched around the block, and the San Francisco-area ABC TV affiliate showed a long line filled with camping chairs and tents at the Tesla store in Walnut Creek. In Burbank around 500 people waited at midday.

In La Jolla, California, 25-year-old biomaterials engineer Ali Athar waited for about five hours before signing up for two cars, one for him and one for his sister.

The line at the La Jolla mall stretched past a soon-to-open Amazon.com book store and an Apple store. Tesla's designs, energy efficiency, and the chance to meet like-minded people, spurred him to join the line, Athar said. Refundable deposits are $1,000 each.   Continued...

People wait in line at a Tesla Motors dealership to place deposits on the electric car company's mid-priced Model 3 in La Jolla, California March 31, 2016.    REUTERS/Mike Blake