Last night, Tesla Motors debuted the Model 3 sedan, which—even before it was introduced—was being described as the car that will change the world, Elon Musk’s moment of truth, and the company’s first car for the masses. “People believe in Elon Musk’s dream,” wrote the Los Angeles times, as thousands of customers around the world lined up for hours in Tesla showrooms, to put down a $1,000 initial payment, which also buys a place in line for when the vehicles will finally begin production near the end of next year. Already, there are 180,000 reservation holders worldwide.
In terms of technical specifications and design, Tesla has largely delivered on the hype surrounding the vehicle based on the prototype that was just unveiled. The Model 3 will have 215 miles of electric range, can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds, seats 5 adults, has advanced autopilot safety features, will be able to use Tesla’s growing supercharger network, and is base priced at $35,000. That number doesn’t include a federal tax credit of $7,500, nor does it include any of the car’s possible upgrades, which will likely contribute to “price creep” for many buyers.
Both the network and the supercharging port are expensive, so there were concerns that the Model 3, unlike the Model S and Model X, would require extra upgrades to supercharge.
However, enthusiasts are pleased by some of the features that will come standard. For example, supercharging and the hardware that underpins Tesla’s autopilot function are included in the base price. Both the network and the supercharging port are expensive, so there were concerns that the Model 3, unlike the Model S and Model X, would require extra upgrades to supercharge. When it comes to autopilot, there were also questions about if these early autonomous features would come standard. The Model 3 will come with the hardware, cameras and sensors, that underpin the autopilot, although the software itself will be available as an additional upgrade. Even without the autopilot, those cameras and sensors still enable basic safety features such as collision avoidance, emergency braking, and possibly adaptive cruise control.
In terms of upgrades to increase the range and speed of the car, drivers can buy larger battery packs although pricing structures are not yet available, and there will also be the option to add a smaller, additional motor to the front of the vehicle for all wheel drive. According to Tesla, this smaller motor is more efficient, and in certain types of driving modes, all-wheel drive will use less energy than rear-wheel drive by diverting some of the work to this front motor.
When it comes to acceleration, zero to 60 in 6 seconds is roughly on par with entry level luxury vehicles, and outperforms the Chevrolet Bolt, which is the other electric vehicle offering over 200 miles of range for around $30,000, after federal rebate. The Bolt has a 60 kWh battery pack, and although Tesla hasn’t stated explicitly what the size of the Model 3’s battery pack will be, analysts are expecting a 60-65 kWh battery as the baseline for the 3.
By point of comparison, Tesla’s luxury SUV offering, the Model X, has all-wheel drive, a 90 kWh battery providing 257 miles of range, seating for seven adults, and accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in as little as 3.2 seconds.
Tesla has already sold roughly 86,000 vehicles worldwide, and the federal tax credit only applies to the first 200,000 vehicles sold in the United States, which is some 60,000. This means that by the time the Model 3 is being delivered to buyers at the end of 2017, the number of available tax credits will be running low. Presumably, this is something that most of the 180,000 individuals already on the waiting list for the Model 3 are aware of.
Tesla has already sold roughly 86,000 vehicles, and the federal tax credit only applies to the first 200,000 vehicles sold.
The car has a number of compelling design features. In addition to the all-glass roof (which is supposed to help contribute to the significant interior room), the car has both a front and rear trunk, and does not have a front grille, which contributes to its unique aesthetic. Another one of the surprises in the car is the fact that the classic dashboard instrument cluster is not in the standard location behind the steering wheel, but is instead incorporated into the central console.