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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Tesla will complete production of its very first Model 3 vehicle today. It won't be the only mass-market, all-electric, 200-mile sedan on the market — GM grabbed first-mover status in December, when it began selling its 238-mile Chevy Bolt. But the Model 3 will nonetheless be singular: Not only will the car be sleek and desirably cool, but it will be equipped with self-driving hardware — one more perk that has motivated 400,000 people to put down $1,000 apiece to reserve one.

All of which is to say that, of the dozens of electrics to reach the global market in the coming five or so years, the Model 3 probably stands the best chance of popularizing a new mass-market electric car age. Rappers are penning verses about no other electric.

A level deeper: Rarely has a piece of commercial transportation been so anticipated — perhaps the Concorde super-sonic airliner in the 1970s. And a big reason has been the long buildup: In 2006, Tesla CEO Elon Musk set out his "master plan" to single-handedly usher in an electric car industry. No one knows how many Model 3s Musk will eventually sell. But today, fearful that Tesla will render them like once-powerful Nokia — sad industrial relics — virtually every major carmaker in the world plans to field multiple electric cars in case the Model 3 is a viral success.

Musk plans to actually deliver his first cars to customers starting July 28, and to begin a slow buildup of production until he is making 500,000 cars a year in 2018 and 1 million in 2020. The base model will cost $35,000 before rebates, go 215 miles on a charge, and accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in fewer than 6 seconds.

But no one believes Musk will deliver cars at that pace. And for that and other reasons, Tesla's share price has been ravaged over the last ten days, losing nearly 20% of its value, half of it in the last two days alone. All in all, Tesla is having one of its worst stretches since its IPO seven years ago.

  • Tesla reported this week that it delivered fewer vehicles in the second quarter than it had promised, leading analysts like Goldman Sachs' David Tamberrino to conclude that demand for high-end Teslas — the premium S and the X SUV — has already plateaued.
  • KeyBanc's Brad Erickson also questions just how profitable the Model 3 will be when mass production is in full swing. He argues that Tesla must reduce its cost by 66% through expanded scale and manufacturing innovation to hit its profit targets — a tall order even for Musk.

Meanwhile competition is on Tesla's heels: Volvo this week announced that it will stop introducing new combustion-engine only vehicles next year. And Baidu partnered with chip maker Nvidia to accelerate the launch of fully autonomous cars, releasing open source software that will bring even more competition to the space.

The bottom line: Musk and Tesla have reached a rare pantheon of cultural phenomenons, capturing hearts and imaginations like no modern tech figure apart from Steve Jobs and Apple. But carmakers around the world are intent on beating Tesla to both electric and autonomous cars. That is what he has said he wanted — to create an electric car industry. Now, he will have to show he can beat back the competition.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
10 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.