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Pre-orders surge for Tesla economy car

The much-hyped Tesla Model 3 - a cheaper mass-market model of the electric vehicle - has broken past a quarter million in just three days. The Tesla Model 3 is expected to list for $35,000 (30,600 euros).

Demand for Tesla Motors' new lower-priced electric car surged Sunday after more than 276,000 people paid

a $1,000 deposit to reserve their Model 3.

"Definitely going to need to rethink production planning," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on his Twitter feed this week.

The Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous offerings. It has a range 215 miles (346 kilometers), which is about twice the range that drivers get from current competitors in its price category, such as the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3.

The orders continue to pour in internationally even though the car isn't scheduled for sale until late in 2017. But the vehicle's popularity could jeopardize a $7,500 US electric car tax credit that many buyers are counting on to reduce the price. The tax credits gradually phase out after a company hits 200,000 in US sales.

Watch video 01:17

Tesla unveils new electric car aimed at mass market

The

drop in oil prices has reduced the demand for electric-powered vehicles

in the US. SUV sales have recovered, while greener vehicles continue to make up only a sliver of US auto sales.

In addition,

General Motors is set to start selling the Chevrolet Bolt electric car

at the end of this year with a similar price tag and a 321-kilometer range. Hyundai's Ioniq, which has a 110-mile electric range and could match Tesla on price, goes on sale this fall. Audi will follow with an electric SUV in 2018.

jar/gsw (AFP, Reuters)

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