Tesla's new Model 3 electric car to hit market on Friday

The Tesla Model 3The Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3
Electric car-maker Tesla said its keenly-awaited Model 3 car for the masses will go on sale on Friday.

The five-seat car will be able to travel 133 miles (215 kilometres) on a single charge and will be sporty, accelerating from zero to 60mph in under six seconds.

The car is priced at around 35,000 dollars (£26,000).

Company CEO Elon Musk had said production was on track to start in July, but Tesla often faces delays in getting vehicles to market.

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The California-based company aims to make 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week by the end of this year and 10,000 per week in 2018.

Tesla has not said how many people have put down 1,000 dollar (£767) refundable deposits for the Model 3, but Mr Musk said people who put down a deposit now will not get a car until the end of 2018 - suggesting it could be close to 500,000.

The firm's last new vehicle, the Model X SUV, was delayed nearly 18 months.

Mr Musk said the Model 3 is much simpler to make, but 14-year-old Tesla has no experience in producing and selling vehicles in high volumes.

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Tesla made just 84,000 cars last year. Bigger rivals like General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota routinely sell around 10 million vehicles per year.

Even if the Model 3 is on time, servicing all those vehicles will still provide a challenge.

Model S and Model X owners are already worried about having to share Tesla's company-owned charging stations with an influx of new cars.

And while Tesla is promising to increase its network of stores and service centres by 30% this year, it began 2017 with just 250 service centres worldwide. That leaves many potential owners miles from a service centre.

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Mr Musk has said a new fleet of mobile service trucks will be deployed to help customers who are far from service centres.

Tesla also plans to double its global high-speed charging points to 10,000 by the end of this year and increase them by another 50-100% in 2018.

Until recently, Tesla owned the market for fully-electric vehicles that can go 200 miles (324 kilometres) or more on a charge.

However, this is changing. GM beat Tesla to the mass market with the Chevrolet Bolt, a 36,000 dollar (£27,000) car that goes 238 miles (about 383 kilometres) per charge.

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Audi plans to introduce an electric SUV with 300 miles (486 kilometres) of range next year; Ford will have one by 2020. Volkswagen plans more than 30 electric vehicle models by 2025.

Competitors like Mercedes and Volvo - not to mention tech companies like Google and Uber - can match Tesla's efforts to develop self-driving vehicles.

They also have deeper pockets. Tesla has had only two profitable quarters in its seven years as a public company.