Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 production is 'ahead of schedule', says Elon Musk Tesla

Tesla's cheapest car to date, the Model 3, is gearing up for imminent production with the first market-ready version of its all-electric vehicle expected to be completed on Friday (7 July). Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed the news on Twitter, noting that the company's 'budget' car has "passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule."

With over 400,000 pre-orders confirmed for what Musk has called a "smaller, more affordable" variation on Tesla's flagship Model S, the advanced production schedule will come as welcome news to early adopters itching to get behind the wheel of Tesla's mass market-targeting mid-size saloon car.

Musk, who was clearly in a celebratory mood, also announced that there would be a "handover party" for the first 30 Model 3 customers on 28 July, with production ramping-up in the following months.

"Production grows exponentially, so [August] should be 100 cars and [September] above 1,500", Musk tweeted, noting later that Tesla hopes to ship 20,000 cars per month from December and beyond.

Priced from approximately $35,000 (£28,000), the Model 3's rollout represents a significant milestone for Tesla as the company looks to shed its "luxury car maker" image and embrace the mass-market.

Envisioned as the final vehicle-related step in Musk's initial "master plan" for Tesla as far back as 2006, the Model 3 represents the company's first high volume, low cost venture and is expected to push the mainstream automotive industry further towards an all-electric future - even if legions of Tesla fans are seemingly more than willing to raise the affordable starting price for better performance and more features.

Considering that both the Model S and Model X suffered from severe production delays and missed their original release dates, Musk's announcement should ease concerns that the Model 3 will endure a similarly rough start.

Expected to accelerate from zero to 60mph in under six seconds in its basic specification, the Model 3 will also support Tesla's self-driving technology called Autopilot as an optional extra. It is expected that standard versions of the car will be very rare among the first batch to leave the production line.