Buyers of Tesla's entry-level Model 3 car face long wai

If you place an order for Tesla's forthcoming entry-level electric sedan today, you might have to wait until well into 2018 for it to glide into your garage.

On Tuesday, visitors to Tesla's website were greeted with a change in language that indicates new orders for the $35,000-and-up Model 3 will be filled in "mid-2018 or later."

A Tesla spokesperson tells USA TODAY that the website change doesn't reflect any delay in initial Model 3 production, which is still slated for mid to late next year. Tesla first began taking orders for the Model 3 back in March, and quickly amassed 400,000 reservations from would-be buyers plunking down $1,000 each.

Tesla is banking on Model 3 to vault the automaker from niche builder of around 50,000 high-end electric luxury cars a year (the Model S and X run around $100,000 well equipped) to a relatively mass-market provider of alt-fuel transportation. That tenfold growth is considered critical to Tesla's success, given that they automaker — currently valued at $29 billion — is taking on more financial challenges now with its proposed acquisition of rooftop solar provider SolarCity.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has projected production numbers for all three electric models of around 500,000 units a year, and has been building out a massive plant that it dubs the Gigafactory in the desert outside of Reno, Nev., for the manufacturing of battery cells and, eventually, cars.

Musk is planning a new Tesla product announcement on Wednesday, which some analysts believe will involve a vastly upgraded computer vision platform that will edge the cars closer to self-driving status. Others have suggested the reveal could be a Model 3 interior, which has yet to be displayed.

Follow USA TODAY tech reporter Marco della Cava @marcodellacava


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