Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed the Model 3, the California automaker's most affordable electric vehicle yet. The presentation began with Musk making the case for electric vehicles by highlighting the dangers of C02 emissions before running through a brief history of Tesla Motors, and announcing the arrival of the company at “step 3, the final step in the master plan: A mass-market affordable car.”
That car is, of course, the Model 3.
As expected, the Model 3 will retail for US$35,000 for a base model that will still do 0-100 km/h in less than six seconds (with other versions that go much faster), and a range of 215 miles, or 346 kilometres. Those specs put rival affordable EVs like the BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf well behind it in every category, though they still have a couple years to close that gap.
“Those are minimum numbers. We hope to exceed them,” Musk said, much to the delight of the crowd in California and those lining up to put down their deposits.
The Autopilot Hardware will come standard with all versions of the car, which will achieve, according to Musk, a five-star safety rating in all categories. All while comfortably seating five adults.
The interior design is welcome departure from the precedents set by the Model S and X. It looks minimal and clean, like the interiors of those concept cars we are used to seeing at auto shows. The infotaintment system is equipped with a smaller screen (15-inch), than that found on the S and X (17-inch) models, with a landscape oriented screen mounted on the dashboard as opposed to being built into the centre console.
After unveiling the Model 3, Musk returned to the stage and proudly announced that at the time of the announcement, 115,000 pre-orders had already been placed for the car that Tesla says will go into production in late 2017. With deliveries being filled in the west coast first and moving east thereafter.
As orders continue to grow and are eventually delivered the demand on Tesla's Supercharger and Destination Charging stations will naturally follow. As such, Musk also announced that by the end of 2017 the company plans to increase the number Supercharger stations to 7,200 from 3,608 and Destination Charging stations from 3,689 to 15,000.
Tesla’s ability to deliver on that goal has been called into question recently as it has not met announced production timelines in the past. Musk went to great lengths to emphasize the scale of the production facilities of both the vehicles themselves and the lithium-ion batteries that power them, before asking himself the same question the hundreds in line outside Tesla locations worldwide and the 115,000 who have already dropped $1,000 to pre-order the Model are asking: “When are deliveries?”
“They’re next year,” Musk proclaimed as a matter of fact. “I do feel fairly confident that they will be next year” he added as the crowd laughed at his attempt to temper expectations.
Whenever they do eventually appear on a road near you, the Model 3 and Tesla are continuing to redefine every preconceived idea of what an EV is, and how much it should cost.