Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk smiles as he attends a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2016. Reuters/Bobby Yip

Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory has started churning out battery cells to ramp up production of the much awaited Model 3. The vehicle may be just about on track for its production deadline.

The 2170 lithium-ion battery cells have been engineered in conjunction with Panasonic. These are an important part of the US$35,000 (AU$47,000 approx.) electric vehicle.

The product is expected to bring the automaker into the mainstream. Currently, its major stock of EVs is reserved for the luxury market. The Model 3 will change all that, and Tesla will start competing directly with traditional and well-established car giants. It’s undoubtedly a formidable vehicle with a 215-mile range with every charge, going from 0-60mph in less than six seconds.

While the price is still a bit high, consumers have proven their interest in the vehicle with 400,000 pre-orders. Electric or otherwise, Tesla is surely a force to be reckoned with in the automobile market

The cells being produced at the gigafactory were also slated for use in Tesla’s residential and commercial energy storage products, Powerpack and Powerwall 2. There are two types of 2170 cells, one for electric vehicles and one for energy products. The cell will not be used in Model S or Model X, confirmed Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“This is where we’re at today with this project; it’s still got a little ways to go ... But we’ve started production of Model 3 cells actually right now, so we’re starting to ramp up those cell manufacturing lines and crank this up as we begin to ramp Model 3,” Tesla CTO JB Straubel said during a presentation at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fair 2017, reports Electrek.

Recently, the Tesla Model X emerged as the safest SUV in history, outperforming all other SUVs in the market. The automaker attributed this achievement to the low centre of gravity that is the result of the bulky battery pack installed on the bottom of the car. This has successfully eliminated the chance of the electric SUV rolling over in the event of a crash. The Model X has become the only SUV in history to achieve a 5-star crash rating after it was put through a plethora of tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

It was a moment of surprise for many, who had been thinking that the automaker’s primary focus was raw acceleration and bringing autonomous driving capabilities to the mainstream. [READ MORE: Tesla Model X’s low centre of gravity makes it the safest SUV in history] Stay tuned on IBT AU for more updates on Tesla Model 3 and other Tesla vehicles.