After ten years of waiting, Tesla has revealed the Model 3, the vehicle that CEO Elon Musk hopes will take the electric car to the masses.
At the unveiling of the Model 3 this evening at the company's design studio in Hawthorne, California, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the car will deliver at least 215 miles of range beginning at just $35,000 — that's a bold claim, and an important one for Tesla to meet. Musk is "fairly confident" that deliveries will begin by the end of 2017, and "you will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000, even with no options."
The base car will do 0-60MPH in less than 6 seconds, with versions that go "much faster." Range will be at least 215 miles, but Tesla hopes to exceed those numbers in the final car. All Model 3 cars will include support for Tesla's high-speed Supercharging network. "It's about going where you want to go," says Musk. By the end of 2017, when the Model 3 launches, Tesla says it will have a total of 7,200 Superchargers, double the number available today.
Autopilot hardware is standard, and all safety features will be active automatically. Five adults will fit comfortably — "comfortably is the important part here," says Musk.
The front to rear roof area — from the windshield all the way to the trunk — will be one continuous piece of glass. And, just like the Model S, it will have front and rear trunks for storage. "More cargo capacity than any gasoline car of the same external dimensions," says Musk. You can even fit a 7-foot long surfboard on the inside.
The two current Tesla vehicles, the Model S and Model X, are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. In order for Tesla to sell ten times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile. That's the Model 3. It's the future of the company.
But don't expect to get your hands on one any time soon. The Model 3 isn't expected to begin production until late 2017, more than 18 months from now. Tesla will happily take your preorder for a modest $1,000 down payment. Tesla plans to more than double the size of its dealership and service network by the end of next year, to sell and take care of all these new cars.
For comparison, the biggest direct competitor for the Model 3 is the Chevy Bolt. GM says that car will have an electric range greater than 200 miles and a price, after tax incentives, of around $30,000.
But today is all about the Model 3, the pinnacle of the Tesla Motors master plan. Elon Musk laid it all out in a blog post ten years ago:
Build sports car - The Tesla Roadster
Use that money to build an affordable car - The Model S
Use that money to build an even more affordable car - The Model 3
At the announcement of the Model 3 this evening, Elon Musk even thanked Model S and Model X purchasers for funding the development of the car. The Model 3 is the culmination of a decade's worth of work. Elon Musk is betting billions on it, and it needs to deliver. The future of Tesla Motors, quite literally, rides on its success.