On Friday, Tesla is set to publicly reveal the $35,000 all-electric Model 3 sedan, the culmination of intense buildup and speculation that began a year-and-a-half ago, when the company’s CEO Elon Musk announced the vehicle. The company’s handing over keys to the first 30 customers, to mark the occasion. There’s still a number of questions about the car, so here’s some things to look for tomorrow.
Battery Packs And Range
Specs about the $35,000 base model have been known for months—a claimed range of 215 miles on a full charge, 0-60 in 5.6 seconds—but that’d put the speed at about par with the $37,500 Chevy Bolt, and the Bolt edges it out with 238 miles of range. So, in particular, we’re looking to see if that has since changed.
The Model 3 is supposedly being offered with two battery sizes—55 kWh or 60 kWh—but the automaker has been seen testing a mule with a 70 kWh, according to Electrek, and that could bump the range to 300 miles. (Musk has already said the Model 3 wheelbase can’t handle a 100 kWh pack.) Friday’s event could make an ideal time for introducing a new trim.
Musk has been clear that, at least early on, the Model 3 will have basic configurations available—whatever wheels you want, the color, and that’s it. But whatever options are available, no one has a clue, despite the fact that production began earlier this month.
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That left hundreds of thousands of reservation holders, all whom put down a $1,000 deposit for the vehicle, virtually in the dark on what to expect. The Model 3 will only be rear-wheel drive at first, so whether Musk announces when an all-wheel drive option will become available is something else to watch for.
Back in January, Musk said he wanted to move “Enhanced Autopilot”—the name for the second-generation version of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving feature—to full-self driving capability within six months. Musk is known for over-promising, and he has said Tesla won’t have fully-autonomous car until as early as 2019, so an announcement isn’t exactly expected.
But, he did say it’d “definitely” happen within six months, and, as Bloomberg noted on Thursday, tomorrow would put him in line with that goal.
Along with every observer, we’ve been stewing over the Model 3's interior for some time. Musk has mentioned that it’ll be extremely minimalist and every shot we’ve seen confirms as much.
Musk has shot down any notion that a Heads-Up Display will be available, and there’s no gauges or speedometers available beyond what’s shown on a 15-inch screen. It’ll be interesting to see what this arrangement looks like up close. But even basic stuff—trunk space, how spacious the car is for passengers, whether a sunroof will be available—isn’t known.
How To Watch The Event
If you’re anxious to see, Tesla says the handovers take place tomorrow at 8:45 p.m. PST. For east coast dwellers, that means nearly midnight, which is really late to be watching a webcast of cars, but if you’re a Model 3 enthusiast, everything’s going down then at Tesla’s website.