The car industry has never witnessed what Tesla is about to go through

 

Tesla Motors unveiled its latest electric car, the Model 3, on March 31, with a lower price tag and 2017 delivery date. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk heralded the Model 3 as a way to accelerate the world's "transition to sustainable transport."(Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Most of the best selling cars in America, such as the Honda Accord or Nissan Altima, generally hit around 300,000 in sales every year.

Tesla saw 276,000 people sign-up to buy its newest all-electric Model 3 sedan — in two days.

That massive number, which far exceeded optimistic forecasts, upends traditional thinking about how to sell cars and is expected to spur the auto industry to shift more dramatically to market electric technology to consumers, analysts said.

“We’ve never seen anything quite like this in the auto industry,” said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com. “It is unprecedented.”

Mainstream car manufacturers have long dabbled in electric technology and some have made a bit of headway in getting such vehicles on the road. But the category was a niche, measured in thousands — not hundreds of thousands — of cars sold.

Tesla now appears to be doing what no other has so far been able to accomplish — sell electric cars to big crowds.

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