After ten years of waiting, Tesla has revealed the Model 3, the vehicle that CEO Elon Musk hopes will take the electric car to the masses.
At the unveiling of the Model 3 this evening at the company's design studio in Hawthorne, California, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the car will deliver at least 215 miles of range beginning at just $35,000 — that's a bold claim, and an important one for Tesla to meet. Musk is "fairly confident" that deliveries will begin by the end of 2017, and "you will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000, even with no options."
The base car will do 0-60MPH in less than 6 seconds, with versions that go "much faster." Range will be at least 215 miles, but Tesla hopes to exceed those numbers in the final car. All Model 3 cars will include support for Tesla's high-speed Supercharging network. "It's about going where you want to go," says Musk. By the end of 2017, when the Model 3 launches, Tesla says it will have a total of 7,200 Superchargers, double the number available today.
Autopilot hardware is standard, and all safety features will be active automatically. Five adults will fit comfortably — "comfortably is the important part here," says Musk.
The front to rear roof area — from the windshield all the way to the trunk — will be one continuous piece of glass. And, just like the Model S, it will have front and rear trunks for storage. "More cargo capacity than any gasoline car of the same external dimensions," says Musk. You can even fit a 7-foot long surfboard on the inside.
The two current Tesla vehicles, the Model S and Model X, are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. In order for Tesla to sell ten times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile. That's the Model 3. It's the future of the company.
But don't expect to get your hands on one any time soon. The Model 3 isn't expected to begin production until late 2017, more than 18 months from now. Tesla will happily take your preorder for a modest $1,000 down payment. Tesla plans to more than double the size of its dealership and service network by the end of next year, to sell and take care of all these new cars.
For comparison, the biggest direct competitor for the Model 3 is the Chevy Bolt. GM says that car will have an electric range greater than 200 miles and a price, after tax incentives, of around $30,000.
But today is all about the Model 3, the pinnacle of the Tesla Motors master plan. Elon Musk laid it all out in a blog post ten years ago:
Build sports car - The Tesla Roadster
Use that money to build an affordable car - The Model S
Use that money to build an even more affordable car - The Model 3
At the announcement of the Model 3 this evening, Elon Musk even thanked Model S and Model X purchasers for funding the development of the car. The Model 3 is the culmination of a decade's worth of work. Elon Musk is betting billions on it, and it needs to deliver. The future of Tesla Motors, quite literally, rides on its success.
Tesla Motors’ [NSDQ:TSLA] Model 3 has been making headlines for the past several years but now it’s finally here.
The BMW 3-Series-rivaling electric sports sedan was revealed tonight in Hawthorne, California and Tesla has been taking pre-orders since early this morning. According to the company, it's already racked up over 115,000 orders.
As previously confirmed by CEO Elon Musk, who was present at tonight’s reveal, deliveries of the Model 3 won’t commence until late 2017.
When it arrives, Tesla promises a range of at least 215 miles and a starting price of $35,000 before incentives. Crucial to getting the price down to this level is Tesla’s plan to use its own batteries this time around, sourced from its Gigafactory under construction in Nevada. Base Model Es will be rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive and air suspension will be available options.
Most will argue the Model S is a sharp looking sedan while the Model X is less so. The Model 3 is clearly from the Tesla family, but has some distinct Porsche Panamera design cues up front. Like the Model S and Model X, the Model 3 has pop-out door handles that improve aerodynamics by retracting into the car's body at speed.
Inside the Model 3 takes a page from the BMW i3 electric car with a spartan interior seating five, and a 15-inch horizontal tablet-like touchscreen mounted on the center of the dashboard. Tesla says the screen is key to how it believes people will interact with its Autopilot self-driving system—currently a semi-autonomous driving system—in the future.
The Tesla Roadster was quick, but the Model S is the fastest four-door sedan on the planet with its ludicrous speed. Tesla says the Model 3 will be quick with the base model running 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds or less, with higher performance models being even quicker.
When it comes to tech Tesla hasn't said a lot, though we see that massive touchscreen on the dashboard. It did promise that every single Model 3 will come standard with its Autopilot hardware—the hardware necessary for a Tesla to be semi-autonomous—though it didn't say the software to enable that hardware would be standard.
Safety has been a corner stone for Tesla since the Model S aced all safety tests earning five stars in every single category. The Silicon Valley automaker announced during the Model 3's reveal that it too will achieve a five-star safety rating in every single test.
The Model 3 is the first model based on Tesla’s third-generation platform. This platform will also be used for a crossover-like model and possibly a new generation of Tesla’s first model, the Roadster sports car. Notably Tesla says the Model 3 is new from the ground up, and almost nothing has been shared with the Model S and Model X. The company says it didn't want to share parts, but rather it took what it learned from those previous models in making the Model 3.
Tesla's being coy about certain Model 3 details, but has said it's not all-aluminum like the larger Model S, rather, it's a mix of steel and aluminum.
The successful launch of the Model 3 represents a critical juncture for Tesla as the higher sales volume the car should generate is what the company is relying on for long-term viability. Tesla is anticipating sales of around 500,000 cars annually by the end of the decade, up from around a tenth of that figure at present.
Importantly, the arrival of the Model 3 will also see Tesla transition from being a niche brand selling expensive cars to wealthy tech fans to a mainstream player offering affordable, compelling cars made in the United States. It has always been one of Musk’s goals with Tesla to make electric cars a credible option for mainstream buyers.
After a long wait, Tesla has finally unveiled the Model 3. It's what we were expecting (and hoping for) – a less-expensive, versatile, attractive 5-seater with decent range and a low price. It rounds out Tesla's revised Secret Master Plan, as Elon Musk cheekily called it, that started with the Roadster, progressed to the Model S, and grew to encompass the Model X.
That's all fine, but did you catch how many preorders Musk said the company had received for the Model 3 by this evening? 115,000 – a staggering number. If you'll remember, each reservation to purchase a Model 3 requires a $1,000 (refundable) deposit.
Here's the other stuff you should really know about Tesla's entry-level electric vehicle. For one, Musk promises it'll ace every safety test category. All will be standard with Autopilot hardware (autonomous driving functionality) and Supercharging (very fast recharging) capability.
It'll also seat five real adults in comfort, as Tesla has squashed the instrument panel a bit and moved the front seats forward to clear rear legroom. To give a sense of airiness to the cabin, and also to gain some extra headroom, it'll have a roof that's a single continuous pane of glass. Neat. In case you surf, it'll swallow a 7-foot surfboard, apparently.
When Musk went over range and acceleration, he made it clear he was talking about the bottom-tier Model 3. Other models, he promised, would go faster and further. As it sits, the "base" Model 3 will get at least 215 miles on a charge and hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. "We don't make slow cars," Musk quipped. Musk is fairly confident the Model 3 can be delivered by the end of next year at the $35,000 price point. You are probably aware that new Teslas don't always arrive on schedule, so take the timing with a grain of salt.
How many Model 3s does the company want to sell? Musk seemed confident that he could ramp up both the Californian vehicle assembly plant and the new Gigafactory lithium ion battery facility to produce a total of 500,000 vehicles a year, including the Model 3. That's a very ambitious figure, but considering the number of deposits placed before the car was even revealed, maybe you shouldn't bet against the man.
Tesla dealerships around the world had huge lineups Thursday morning, and Montreal was no exception.
By 8 a.m., more than 200 people had gathered outside the dealership on Ferrier St. in Côte-des-Neiges—Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce. All of them were waiting to put down refundable $1,000 deposits for a chance to buy an electric car they have never seen, and won’t be able to drive until sometime next year at the earliest.
Thursday, starting at 9 a.m., was the first day Tesla was accepting deposits for the much-hyped car.
Among the crowd was a busload that came from Quebec City.
The first in line was Vaudreuil-Dorion resident Ian Pavelko, who arrived at the dealership on Tuesday at 5 p.m., and spent two nights in a tent pitched in the dealership’s parking lot. He bought a tent specifically for the wait, and had a graphic artist who works with him at Fastco, a wheel manufacturing company, put the Tesla logo on it.
He said there were three people on Tuesday night, but the crowd really started to build on Wednesday night.
“It was just three of us there the first night, but when I went to bed on Wednesday night, we were past 20,” Pavelko said. “By 5:30 (Thursday morning), we were more than 70, and by the time the dealership opened, it was well over 200 people.”
Pavelko owns a conventional gasoline-powered car, a 2007 Audi A4, but has been fascinated with the Tesla for several years.
“I never thought I would buy one, because it was so expensive,” Pavelko said. “But a year ago, I (heard about the Model 3) and I was blown away. I have been counting down the days.”
However, those in line will have to give their money to Tesla without getting any specifics about the car, which could fetch a $35,000 price tag, with a range of 480 kilometres on a single charge, according to numerous reports. That price is likely the U.S. dollar figure for the car, and Canadians should expect to pay significantly more.
Called Model 3, the newest Tesla will be its most affordable, the company has said. The least expensive Teslas currently on the market cost upwards of $70,000.
Some details about the Tesla Model 3 were to be unveiled at an event in Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m. Pacific Time Thursday.
The company has been vague about when the Model 3 would be on sale, saying a limited number would be sold by the beginning of 2017. However, Tesla has been notorious for missing production deadlines. The Model X, which went on sale last fall, was delayed by a year. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, has said he wants to more than quintuple the annual sales of Tesla around the world to 500,000 by 2020. The company is building a factory in Fremont, Calif., with production set to start there at the end of 2017.
A spokesperson at the Tesla dealership declined a request for an interview.
Haven't driven one. What didn't you like?