Tesla’s Model 3 program will be the lifeblood of the automaker over the next five years. CEO Elon Musk recently said that he sees the program generating $20 billion in revenue at its peak and that it will help finance the company’s other projects, like Model Y, which will be built on the same platform, the Gigafactory expansion, and other vehicles recently announced in his ‘Master Plan Part Deux’ (as well as subsequent tweets).

It means that a lot depends on Tesla bringing the vehicle to market, and therefore to production, on time and on price. Giving us some insights into Tesla’s road to production, sources within Tesla’s supply chain told Electrek that the automaker has been ordering enough Model 3 parts over the past two months to build a fleet of around 300 prototypes.

Now to be clear: It is our understanding that it doesn’t mean that the number of parts divided by the number of parts per vehicle necessarily means Tesla will build a fleet of 300 since some of the parts will be used for process validation outside of prototypes and other processes, but it is still a fairly good indication.

We contacted Tesla for a comment and we will update if we get an answer.

Currently, only 2 working prototypes, the matte black and the silver, have been spotted since the unveiling, and a third shell prototype has been used by Tesla for display at the Gigafactory. The two working prototypes would be considered ‘Alpha prototypes’, as the company confirmed having completed the ‘Model 3 Alpha Prototype’ in a SEC filing after the reveal event in March.

Normally, the number of units increases significantly with a fleet of beta prototypes, which should be the phase Tesla is currently in for the Model 3 considering the company confirmed ‘pencil down’ on the design a few weeks ago.

NEW TESLA MODEL 3 PROMO HIGH-RES SHOTS OF THE SILVER PROTOTYPE EMERGE [GALLERY]

After the beta prototypes and once the assembly line is up, Tesla is currently working on a $1.3 billion expansion of its Fremont Factory for the Model 3 assembly line, the company moves to producing a fleet of ‘release candidates’.

For example, during the development process of the Model X last year, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla was operating a “captive fleet of hundreds” of  Model X release candidates about 10 months before the automaker achieved volume production of the all-electric SUV.

Tesla’s official timeline for volume production of the Model 3 is “summer 2017” or roughly about 12 months from now. Hopefully Tesla will provide an update on its production plan for the vehicle on Wednesday for its Q2 earnings results.

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