The sources did not know how many of the highly anticipated vehicles Tesla aimed to build in February, but it would likely be a small number to test the assembly system and the quality of vehicle parts.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk last year told investors and more than 370,000 customers who put deposits down for a Model 3 that he intended to start building the cars in July 2017. At the time, many analysts and suppliers said the timeline was too ambitious and would be difficult to achieve, pointing to Tesla's history of missing aggressive production targets.
If Tesla succeeds in starting pilot production of the sedan at its factory in Fremont, California on Feb. 20, the company would be able to share the news with shareholders two days later when it reports fourth-quarter results and better answer any questions about the Model 3 rollout.
Tesla has a lot riding on the Model 3, which is priced at roughly $35,000 before government incentives. If successful, the sedan could raise Tesla beyond a niche luxury player in the automotive sector.