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If successful, Musk's new car would be bigger than the iPhone

Steve Jurvetson / Creative Commons

Elon Musk pulled off another in his streak of glitzy product debuts, producing an outpouring of exultant reviews from wowed journalists riding in his new mass-market electric, the Tesla Model 3, late Friday evening.

  • Musk updated the count of pre-orders for the $35,000 electric — more than 500,000, each putting down $1,000 for a place in line to buy the car.
  • Why it matters: If consumers truly embrace electric and autonomous cars, it could be more important in the big picture than the debut of the iPhone a decade ago: not only a seminal moment in tech and culture, but a transformation of energy and transportation, the biggest industries on the planet.
  • Hence, let's watch but withhold judgement: The mark of an indisputable shift will be millions of orders for multiple years running. As it stands, we have Tesla's cachet, built on years of setting the standard for vehicular cool; an impressive number of orders for a single year; and a thumb's up from the car's first riders. What we do not have is definitive proof of a mass market.
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