Here we are. After years of hype and rumors, Tesla has revealed the entry-level Tesla Model 3: the sleek, high-performance electric sedan for the masses. Or so Elon Musk hopes.
The slowest base model will go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, with Musk saying that “we don’t make slow cars.” The minimum electric range of the lineup will be “at least” 215 miles, but is expected to do much better than that. More expensive options are promised to exceed this range.
All Model 3 trims will come stock with available autopilot safety features. Musk claimed there would be no additional packages, no paywall—just day one semi-autonomous capabilities.
The Model 3 sits five adults “comfortably,” with the interior space maximized by being able to push the dashboard and “firewall” as far forward as possible. But even better, the rear roof portion is one enormous piece of glass, providing a clear sky view.
And, in fitting with Tesla design ethos, the car comes with the standard front and rear trunk spaces, thanks to the unique design and engineering opportunities provided by not having to work around an internal combustion engine up front. Further to that point, Tesla claims the Model 3 is “incredibly safe” and should receive a five star rating in every testing category.
But just check out not only the simplicity of the interior, but also the magnitude of that center screen:
Part of the appeal of an electric car that’s supposed to be for the masses will, of course, be in the quelling of range anxiety. The Model 3 will be capable of accessing Tesla’s international Supercharger network and destination charging stations as standard.
The company hopes to double the Supercharger network to 7,500 locations in Europe, Asia, and North America by the end of next year, while quadrupling destination chargers to 15,000 locations.
As far as production capacity goes, Musk claims the Model 3 production would currently require the combined international production of lithium ion batteries, hence the development of the Gigafactory.
The giant Nevada battery factory–which is supposedly the largest building in the world, by footprint–is expected to churn out more lithium-ion batteries than the rest of the world combined, with the Fremont final assembly plant churning out a capacity of 500,000 cars a year.
The car will start as promised at $35,000 and should begin deliveries late next year. So far Tesla already has at least 130,000 reservations for the Model 3 according to a giant counter they have displayed at the event.
It’s hard to understate the importance of this car to Tesla. In fact, an “affordable” electric car has been Elon Musk’s stated goal from the get-go, stretching back to as far as 2006. The Model S and the Model X, mind-blowing cars they may be, were merely considered stepping stones to this one.
A lot is riding on it, not only for this company, but for drivers and the car industry overall. After all, building a “mainstream” car will mean Tesla faces its toughest production demands yet. The thousands of people who stood in line, for days in some cases, to put down reservations, is proof of how much demand exists.
Up until now Tesla has been a relatively small player, one that catered to the luxury market but never in the same volumes as established players. Can Tesla keep up with the expectations that are clearly there for this car?
Further, as far as electric vehicles go, this is one of the most important ones yet. If Tesla can meet these sales volumes, the Model 3 will be a test of electric infrastructure as much as anything else.
All I know is we can’t wait to get behind the wheel, and we hope it happens sooner than later.