Tesla’s new Model 3 is a mass-market electric car designed to take the car maker from a niche player to a high-volume automaker.
Tesla Motors, the upstart electric car maker sending shivers of apprehension through the traditional automotive industry, has unveiled its first venture into the mass market with its prototype new Model 3.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s home town press conference here was interrupted by the now traditional whooping and hollering of approval from the assembled employees and early adopters of its electric cars.
Musk announced more than 100,000 Model 3 orders with $1,000 deposits had been made, zooming to 276,000 after the press conference. This is amazing and unprecedented for a car which hadn’t been seen before, and won’t appear in showrooms in any great numbers until 2018. Production will begin late in 2017.
So these Model 3 orders aren’t likely to be firmed up into actual sales any time soon.
Model 3 sales will reach only 12,200 next year, according to Cairn Energy Research Advisors of Boulder, Colorado, while it said Tesla will have shipped only 196,890 by 2020, about 100,000 short of its official guidance. Investment bank Morgan Stanley said total Tesla production of Model S saloons, Model X SUVs and the Model 3 will reach just under 249,000 by 2020, less than half of Tesla’s own targets.
But this didn’t stop the enthusiasm of would-be buyers and investors reaching over-the-top levels.
“Model 3 redefines the auto industry. The auto industry has been stuck making Tiffin Boxes for decades and their time is fast coming to an end. There is no way BMW, Porsche, GM, Toyota, Honda or any other existing auto manufacturer can even come close to competing with Tesla Model 3,” said Global Equities Research of Redwood Shores, California.
That remains to be seen.
Before the unveiling, the Model 3 was billed as a competitor to workaday battery-electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq and BMW i3 Citycar. Not so, said IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley, because of its size, range and performance.
“Model 3’s natural competitive set may be more accurately the (petrol-powered) BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lincoln MKZ and Cadillac CTS,” Brinley said.
This explains why the traditional industry is so nervous about Tesla. It not only appeals to sandal-wearing environmental zealots, but to the well-heeled who also want a vehicle which excites.
Musk announced the price, before tax and government subsidies.
“As for price, it’ll be $35,000. And I want to emphasize that even if you buy it at $35,000 — no options at all — this will still be an amazing car.”
The 65 KwH Model 3, likely to cost a lot more than $35,000, will scorch from rest to 60mph in 4.4 seconds, will have a range of 225 miles and take one hour for a fast recharge, allegedly. This will allow it to compete with the hottest sports saloons like the BMW M3 and Mercedes C-class AMG. Eventually there will be a coupe, a cabriolet, a small SUV and maybe a pickup truck.