“Part two” came last month, when Tesla revealed that all of its cars from now on will come with the necessary hardware to support fully autonomous driving – Model 3 included. Now, online reports have unearthed comments made by Musk during a recent shareholders meeting, revealing that we’ll see more of the Model 3 early next year. Asked about part three of the Model 3’s reveal, Musk said it could happen around the beginning of spring, possibly three to four months from now. The final production version of the vehicle is expected to be revealed, as well as information on battery pack options and a closer look at the car’s final interior design.
Those lucky enough to have reserved a Tesla Model 3 are benefitting from regular updates on their ‘My Tesla’ page, and the latest is that the company is well on track for the car’s promised 2017 delivery date. The company has also revealed that the Model 3 Configurator will be made available to customers depending on when they placed their reservation, though the update at least shows us one more colour which is likely to be available – a dark blue which we’ve not seen before. Tesla’s latest accounts show that the company has 373,000 people waiting for their Model 3 after dropping a $1,000 deposit. The company hopes that 200,000 of these orders will be fulfilled in 2017, ahead of the firm’s 2018 goal to take annual production to 500,000 vehicles. The latest news, however, was revealed by Elon Musk at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, where he announced that the Model 3 would not benefit from the same free unlimited access to the company’s Supercharger network. Musk promised that the resulting charges would still make running a Model 3 much cheaper than a conventionally-powered car, but claimed that the low price of Tesla’s smallest model made it uneconomical to offer the same perks as with its bigger brothers.
The Model 3 will go head-to-head with the established big sellers in the compact executive car class. Production will being in America in 2017 with first cars expected in the UK in 2018. It will have a starting price of $35,000 (£24,400) in the US but Elon Musk hinted that most models will be sold for closer to $42,000 (£29,400) once options are added.
Rivals for the Model 3 will not be in short supply with cars like BMW’s 3 Series, Audi’s A4, Jaguar’s XE and the Mercedes C-Class offering similar dimensions with more conventional powertrains. That low price for a fully electric car will set alarm bells ringing across the industry, however. The Model 3 is likely to be closer to £35k by the time it arrives in the UK but with the plug-in car grant factored in, it will still be very competitively priced.
To date, many details on the Tesla Model 3 have yet to be released but we know that the car will offer a minimum range of 215 miles with its advanced lithium ion batteries and all-electric powertrain. Performance wise, the Model 3 will blast from 0-60mph in just 6s as standard but this is Tesla and faster versions will be offered. “Tesla doesn’t make slow cars”, said Elon Musk.
Musk has confirmed in a tweet that the Model 3 will be getting Tesla’s ‘Ludicrous Mode’ – a software tweak which unlocks even more potential from the car’s electric drivetrain. When employed on the Model S it was able to propel itself to 60mph in just 2.8 seconds – though we don’t expect the Model 3 to be quite that powerful.
The Model 3 has been part of Musk’s plan since the company’s inception. In 2006, Tesla published what Musk refers to as the “Secret Master Plan”. Step one: The Tesla Roadster, an expensive low-volume car intended to show the world that electric vehicles could be compelling. Step two: The Model S, a mid-production, not-quite-so-expensive car that would show the world how practical, useful, and downright good an electric car could be. (As for the Model X SUV, Musk regards that as step two-and-a-half.) And now we have Step Three: An affordable mass-market electric car in the guise of the Tesla Model 3. Appearance-wise, it’s no surprise that the Tesla Model 3 looks like a downsized Model S. With electrical gear taking up so little space, downsizing the Model 3 was mostly a matter of shrinking the ends of the car and shifting the front seats forward to provide more rear-seat room. Like other Teslas, the Model 3 offers two boots, front and rear. Unlike other Teslas, the Model 3 has no grille save a small scoop at the bottom edge of the bumper. While this is no doubt good for aerodynamics, it gives the car a rather unfinished look when seen from the front.