The Model 3 will be Tesla's first volume model (Photo: Tesla)

Tesla has already booked 10 billion dlrs in orders for its Model 3 electric SUV, the company's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, said in a Twitter posting. The total is made up of 276,000 individual order bookings for the car, which hasn't yet been built.

Tesla, which started taking orders for the Model 3 last week, said it will definitely be launched in late 2017. The Model 3 electric SUV is its first volume car.

Responding to the strong interest, Musk also tweeted: "Definitely going to need to rethink production planning."

The Model 3, which will have a US starting price of 35,000 dlrs, will have a driving range of 350 kilometers and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/hour in six seconds. “We don’t build slow cars,” Musk said at a press event in Los Angeles.

The car, which has gullwing doors, otherwise looks a lot like the Model S, with its dynamic styling, laptop-size vertical monitor and autopilot technology that can be deployed for autonomous driving.

The Model 3’s launch date has been delayed several times, but Musk said he was confident the company would meet its current launch target.

In an effort to help boost industry-wide electric-vehicle sales, the Model 3 is priced much lower than Tesla’s successful Model S sports sedan and its most recent Model X SUV. These cars are priced at about 78,000 euros and 93,000 euros, respectively, in Europe.

Electric vehicles have been slow to take off, mostly because, in comparison with traditionally powered competitors, they offer relatively limited driving range at a relatively high price.

Germany’s Center of Automotive Management (CAM) also blames a lack of innovation for the weak sales. Between 2011 and 2015, CAM identified only 27 real examples of innovation globally. Among them was the electric Tesla Model S, with its 500 km range.

“Weak customer demand for pure electric vehicles in essence reflects a dearth of technologically mature models,” said Stefan Bratzel, who heads CAM.

Tesla, which has been operating at a loss despite the success of its Model S limousine, hopes that the introduction of a volume model will help it turn a profit. “The Model 3 is the acid test for Tesla and will decide the company’s medium and long-term success,” Bratzel said.

He warned, however, that, with the modest price tag on the Model 3, Tesla will need to sell large numbers of the new car to make a profit. If it succeeds in doing so, however, CAM predicts it could mark a breakthrough for electric mobility.