Tesla has finally invited non-employee reservation holders to design their , a sign the cars could be close to entering production, which would be a big step forward.
Tesla confirmed this week that it opened up the design phase of the order process to a batch of non-employee reservation holders for the first time. Up until this point, the only people who have received Model 3s have been special reservation holders, whether it means employees, family members of employees or those close to the company.
Before a reservation can become a Model 3, the holder of said reservation must design his or her car, including paint color and wheel choice. Not every option is available -- early stages of Model 3 production are focusing on vehicles equipped with long-range batteries and the Premium Package, so if you aren't cool with those options, you'll have to wait just a bit longer.
According to Electrek, which received screenshots of the ordering process from a reader, the estimated wait for this first batch of "civilian" orders is approximately four weeks.
Elon Musk has repeatedly referred to the current state of Model 3 assembly as "production hell." The company is fighting to ramp up production, although in its Q3 earnings call, Elon Musk it hoped to be producing 5,000 units per week to early 2018, signaling that Tesla's production woes weren't exactly a thing of the past just yet.
But this move brings some hope -- not only to investors, who watched Tesla's shares sink a bit after the earnings call, but also to the hundreds of thousands of reservation holders who are waiting to take a crack at Tesla's first affordable car. We'll be keeping a close watch of the calendar to see if these vehicles end up rolling off the line before the end of the year.