Tesla's new vehicle-assembly system, which created instant buzz when it was unveiled in March, ignited a debate among auto manufacturing experts on whether CEO Elon Musk's so-called unboxed process is radical, revisionist or derivative — or all of the above.

Musk believes the company needs to radically rethink conventional manufacturing methods in order to build more affordable — and profitable — electric vehicles in higher volumes.

Investors have been waiting for Tesla, the world's most valuable automaker, to announce what is perceived as the company's holy grail: An electric vehicle priced under $30,000. Right now, the least expensive Tesla starts at more than $40,000.