Tesla shows off Model 3 at private Palo Alto party

The long journey to drive a new Tesla Model 3 moved closer to completion for some owners Thursday night. The automaker hosted a private party so a select few pre-existing owners and those on a waiting list could see the new electric car for the first time.

Like moths to a flame, a few hundred Tesla owners, or people committed to buying one, crowded around the hot arrival.

“It’s been a long time. I can’t wait to get hold of my car,” said Anjan Ramani, as he stood with his wife and daughters and looked longingly at the gleaming vehicle.

His car is this car, the new Tesla Model-3, shown to the public for the first time Thursday night. It’s a coveted electric without the crushing price tag of other Tesla models. The base 3 costs about $35,000. The premium edition displayed for the private party – with extended battery life, and full moon roof, and upgraded interior – comes in just under $50,000.

“Our mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy,” said Tesla California sales general manager Troy Jones to the energized crowd.

That mission hit a few bumps in the road, with production bottlenecks related to the car’s battery module delaying production.

Company executives, who declined to talk to KTVU, say the problem is fixed, and production is ramping up – again. Diehards don’t seem concerned their one-thousand dollar deposit on a Model-3 still hasn’t produced electric wheels…

“Anytime there’s new innovation, new product cycles, a lot of times it takes a little longer. I’d rather they take their time, work the bugs out,” said Tesla Model S owner Vicki Smith, as she sat in the back of the room watching the flurry of activity around the Model 3.

Anu Ramani says going electric is a step towards helping reduce environmental damage to the planet from gas-powered vehicles.

“I have this huge gas guzzler right now and I feel a little bit of guilt everyday. So this will be a really nice, fashionable way, a beautiful way to do our part to help,” she said.

Tesla employees say the premium Model-3 has a range of 310-miles on a single charge. Charging stations already dot the landscape, making this form of zero-emissions driving manageable. But the new tech won’t solve decades-old debates for some families, over who gets to drive the new car..

“Yeah sure, I’ll drive it,” Anu Ramani chimed in. “No she’s not going to drive it,” her husband Anjan quickly responded. “Wait a second! Of course we’ll both drive it,” Anu responded, ending their negotiation.

The early depositors should start getting their Model 3s by March or April. And If the bug bites, and you put down a thousand dollars to get on the waiting list, you won’t see your wheels until next year. Tesla has another preview, for the general public, here at 10 tomorrow morning.