Lines grow as Tesla begins taking reservations for newest car

NEW JERSEY -- Die-hard Tesla fans began camping out Wednesday night to be first in line to reserve the new Model 3 car.

At the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, a spokesperson confirmed that more than 250 people have lined up at Tesla to pre-order a new car.

Tesla doesn't start delivering the car until late next year.

Tesla didn't release details about the car before the event. Potential buyers can start putting down $1,000 deposits Thursday for the Model 3. It's scheduled to go on sale at the end of next year.

The car has generated so much excitement because the Model 3 is expected to cost around $35,000 -- half the cost of Tesla's other two models.

Tesla plans to unveil its Model 3 electric car Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous models. The car is expected to have a range of at least 200 miles when fully charged, about double what drivers get from competitors in its price range, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.

The Model 3 could be the car that finally makes electrics mainstream - or customers could be scared off by Tesla's limited number of stores and service centers. Either way, the Model 3 is already changing the industry, spurring competitors to speed development of electric cars and improve their battery range.

Right now, Tesla sells two vehicles: The Model S sedan, which starts at $71,000, and the Model X SUV, which starts around $80,000. But a lower-priced car has been a longtime goal of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In a 2006 blog post, Musk said Tesla planned to build "a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars" in order to speed the world toward a solar-powered future.

But Tesla faces several hurdles. U.S. buyers remain skeptical of electric cars, and low gas prices haven't helped already anemic sales. Sales of new electric vehicles grew 6 percent in the U.S. last year, but they still remain less than 1 percent of the overall vehicle market, according to IHS Automotive. Tesla also faces growing competition from big, deep-pocketed rivals like General Motors Co.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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