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It’s ‘pencil down’ day on the Tesla Model 3, according to Musk

The Model 3 shook up the automotive world when demand for Tesla’s entry-level car far outstripped even the manufacturer’s high hopes. That demand, as measured by people putting down actual money for pre-orders, raised expectations and put pressure on the company. Well, today’s an important day for Tesla and the Model 3, according to Electrek. This is the day Tesla is expected to put the “pencil down,” calling an end to the preliminary engineering design stage.

Six weeks have passed since Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to the need for “some tweaking” when he said, “Almost all of the Model 3’s design is done and we are aiming for pencil down basically in about six weeks.” There will be further feature set announcements and final design unveilings shortly before production begins in the latter part of 2017, but the initial design phase should be ending now.

Though the sun will still rise for Tesla if it doesn’t hit the announced deadline, the company will benefit if it hits the target. And granted, Musk did say “about six weeks,” which allows some wiggle room. The roughly 400,000 people on the Model 3 reservation list would likely appreciate solid progress as well.

It’s easy to recognize technology pioneers — they’re the ones with the big targets painted on their backs. It’s difficult to overstate the extent to which Tesla’s Autopilot has been in the news during the past three weeks, and some of that may have been the result of pioneer targeting. But business carries on and development continues on several fronts.

Musk has stated that the Model 3 won’t pose the challenges of the Model S and the Model X, which share share the same platform. “[With the Model 3] we are making something that is a lot simpler, but still a car that people will love and where every design decision is factoring in manufacturability and making sure that when we design something that we can manufacture at volume, at an affordable price, and on the schedule we are targeting,” Musk said.