Tesla Motors marked a moment in plug-in electric vehicle history on Thursday night by unveiling what could become the first affordable electric car hitting mass-market sales; and getting hundreds of thousands of people to put money down on a car that won’t be coming out any time soon.
As of April 7, more than 325,000 orders had been placed with $1,000 down payments for the $35,000 midsize sedan. Deliveries won’t start until late 2017 with rollouts coming in the Spring of 2018 – nearly two years from now. If that many Model 3s are to be sold in 2018, it would more than double the number of EV sales seen in the U.S. in 2015. The roll out of the Model 3 will be closely watched as it competes with the Chevrolet Bolt and other cost competitive, longer range EVs that come to market.
Tesla has high hopes on sales going way beyond what’s been seen so far for its first three electric vehicles; and to pay for the billions of dollars invested in engineering design and its Gigafactory lithium battery plant in Nevada. During the launch event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told the story of what it takes to roll out a safe, affordable electric car with good driving range; and the urgent environmental issues behind it.
Franz von Holzhausen, the chief executive designer at Tesla Motors who leads the Model 3 launch, came on stage first Thursday to welcome the audience. It was a high-energy crowd made up of hundreds of adoring fans and automotive reporters, at its Hawthorne, Calif., facility next door to the SpaceX headquarters. He welcomed his boss, Elon Musk, who came out to unveil, “an amazing product which will blow you away.”
Before pitching the performance of the Model 3, Musk started out with an overview on sustainability. As for why Tesla is building electric cars, “…..it’s very important to accelerate transition to sustainable transport,” Musk said. “This is really important for the future of the world. We have record high C02 levels.”
Musk described as the “Tesla secret master plan.” It all started with the high-priced, low-volume electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, which has only been built at about 500 units per year. Tesla had to break the mold of slow, ugly electric cars that was the norm for many years, Musk said, and the Roadster was able to do it.
Next came the award-winning Model S sedan, followed by the first electric SUV, the Model X. Musk said half the market wants cars and half wants SUVs, so Tesla extended the Model S platform into the Model X. Musk said that it’s taken multiple iterations and economies of scale to make it all affordable. Revenue produced by sales of the Model S and Model X were needed to move the Model 3 forward. “To all of you who bought the Model S and the Model X, thank you for helping to pay for the Model 3,” Musk said to a cheering audience.
After the staged presentation, journalists were given brief rides around the premises but weren’t allowed to drive the vehicle themselves. One reporter said that when the test driver floored the accelerator of the dual-motor Model 3, it had the same power-torque feeling as the Model S. That will be a very good selling point for the Model 3.
All of this being said, here’s a fact sheet on the Tesla Model 3:
Pricing: $35,000 starting price before incentives
Range per charge: 215 miles, and Supercharger capable
Torque: zero to 60 mph in under six seconds
Safety: Model 3 is being designed to attain the highest safety ratings in every category; with the goal of reaching 5-star safety ratings in all categories once again. There will also be Autopilot safety features.
Seating and storage: Seating for five adults; trunk in rear and no hatchback
Pre-orders: As of April 3, there were 276,000 pre-orders with $1,000 deposits made. (To stay current on Tesla Model 3 pre-sales orders, go to Elon Musk’s Twitter page.)
Logo design: Something unconventional, but also used in the Tesla logo for an “e”…….
Deliveries: Begin late 2017