Tesla's Model 3 is one of the most anticipated car launches in years. First revealed in pre-production prototype form at the end of March, the next car from Elon Musk's company is already a big hit with potential buyers – around 400,000 have placed a deposit.
What's all the hype about?
The Model 3 is set to be a significant car in a number of ways. For starters, it signals the completion of Tesla's first "master plan". When the company launched its first car in 2008 - the Tesla Roadster - it was a low-volume, high-cost EV used to fund the production of the Model S, a cheaper car produced on a larger scale.
The Model 3 continues the pattern. It's set to be Tesla's cheapest and most popular car yet and will be produced in significantly larger numbers than its predecessors.
It's also the first vehicle to be built on the company's third-generation platform, which should mean denser, more efficient battery packs for a fairly significant all-electric range.
Tesla has ground out a reputation in the motor industry for doing things differently. It's a company popular in technology rather than petrol-head circles and the cars so far have proven to be among the most desirable electric vehicles on the market. An affordable and more accessible Tesla is bound to be wildly popular.
While the overall profile is distinctly Tesla, the Model 3 introduces some new design traits, most notably the flat, grille-less face at the front.
It's thought the company has kept things pretty simple for aerodynamic purposes, allowing the Model 3 to eke out the most of its charge – it has a target drag coefficient of just 0.21cd for optimum efficiency.
It's a smaller car than the Model S and looks much stubbier, the short front and rear overhangs downsizing the overall profile. The glass roof stretches from the bottom of the windshield into the hunched rear end, although the Model 3 does not have a hatchback boot. Instead, a second storage space lies under the bonnet.
Slight changes around the back end are now expected after chief executive Elon Musk said the company has responded to concerns that the boot opening was too small and had been hampered by the car's overall design. According to Electrek, the wider boot could lead to different versions of the Model 3, such as an optional all-glass panoramic roof.
Alloy wheels and exterior colour choices also make the cut. A dark blue version as well as a matte black will come alongside the silver the car was previewed in. The full range of customisation options will be available when the Model 3's configurator launches further down the line.
Tesla hasn't released much information about the Model 3's interior. The fairly blank-looking setup boasting a 15ins horizontal monitor in the middle, seen during the reveal, is probably not the finished product – either that or that there's far more to it than meets the eye.
BGR highlight's Musk's words that the clutter-free cabin would "make more sense" in the future, saying the lack of controls and items with which the driver can interact, beyond the central touchscreen, steering wheel and pedals, possibly indicate some sort of self-driving capabilities.
Musk has also tweeted that the Model 3 will feel like a "spaceship" on the inside, leading Jalopnik to predict the company has a big secret up its sleeve.
The Model 3 looks set to be more practical than the pre-production prototype Tesla has shown.
For starters, the car's tiny boot opening is set to change. Musk has taken on board customer qualms that it was too small to be practical and the company claims it has addressed the issue, meaning it should be easier to load larger items.
There are no official dimensions for neither boot nor passenger space yet, but the Model 3 is a smaller car than the Model S saloon.
Electrek says the interior space will be flexible, thanks to folding seats, while Bloomberg cites "sources familiar with the final design" who say that the rear pew will fold completely flat.
With the seats down, the car's cargo bay will stretch from the back of the front seats to the end of the boot, opening up around 66ins of room.
Tesla's Autopilot suite of autonomous driving aids has been one of the flagship features on the firm's more expensive Model S and Model X cars. It allows drivers to use automatic steering, lane changing and accident avoidance on highways and motorways, as well as enabling self-parking capabilities and the summon feature, which allows owners to quite literally summon their cars from parking spots and garages.
While the high-tech features may seem out of place in a car Tesla is keen to tag as affordable, Musk has confirmed it will be heading the Model 3's way, reports Tech Insider, although you'll have to pay a fee to unlock the self-driving modes, which the chief executive calls "convenience features". At present, the system exists on the Model S as a £2,100 extra if drivers opt for it when buying. It can be also activated via a software download, but that's a slightly more expensive £2,500.
Just how extensive the feature could be is up for debate. It's thought that the next generation Autopilot could allow fully autonomous driving, Electrek says, so should it arrive on the Model 3, it may offer more than just tier-three autonomy on motorways.
Power, charging and range
The Model 3 will be capable of at least 215 miles on a single charge. That minimum is rumoured to be achieved with a battery smaller than 60 kWh, although it will be sold with a range of packs. Cars with stronger batteries will not only come with greater performance figures, but larger ranges, too.
One way to boost the range and performance will be to spec the Model 3 with the dual-motor powertrain. CarBuyer says drivers will be offered the option of dual-motor, four-wheel drive electric propulsion, as on the Model S. They should be significantly faster than the two-wheel drive versions.
Tesla has kept the Model 3's performance specifics to itself for now, but Auto Express has been for a ride in one and says it should do 0-62mph in less than six seconds, while range-topping all-wheel drive variants should manage 4.5secs. It has been confirmed that a Ludicrous mode Model 3 will be available – the extra power is an £8,300 option on the Model S.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the Model 3 has been the sticky issue of charging. Tesla has a growing network of Supercharger stations dotted around key routes across the US and Europe to allow its drivers quick and free top-ups on the go and they're crucial to making long, all-electric journeys a realistic proposition.
At the car's reveal, Musk said owners would get access to the stations and at first, it appeared they would be offered free charging. However, he has since said it won't be thrown in as standard - and many now believe speccing it could be one of the car's most expensive options, coming in at around £2,500, made in a one-off payment either when buying the car or through a software upgrade further down the line.
However, a new report in Electrek suggests there may be a second way to enable the feature - "Supercharger Credits".
Model 3 owners could be offered a pay-as-you-go subscription to the stations, says the site, allowing them to open an account and simply pay per kWh they need rather than for lifetime access.
If that happens, it could mean Tesla will cut the list price of its other models – the Model S saloon and the Model X SUV, adds Electrek.
Release and production
First deliveries are set for "late 2017" - and that's as specific as Tesla will go for now. However, the long waiting list means many customers won't get their cars until 2018, especially if they order now. UK buyers probably won't see the EV until then neither.
We are still waiting for official prices, but Tesla has said the Model 3 will start from around £30,000, with drivers having to pay extra the likes of the dual motor, Supercharger access and Autopilot.
Tesla will have to seriously step up its current production figures if the Model 3 is to be a success. Manufacturing jitters such as those that hampered the releases of its other cars must be ironed out.
The company plans to scale up production to 500,000 cars a year by 2018 and according to CNET, believes it can make between 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s next year.
Will the company meet its deadline?
Of course, Tesla's past manufacturing woes mean some are sceptical of Musk delivering by the end of next year.
Tesla has built and sold around 140,000 cars since the introduction of its Roadster in 2008, so stepping up to deliver 400,000 Model 3s over the next couple of years marks a sea change in terms of the company's manufacturing capabilities.
Musk's showman style and confidence, plus the company's announcements and plans to rapidly scale up production, have kept most critics on side for now, but at least one analyst is predicting the first Model 3s won't be arriving in their allocated delivery window.
Speaking to CNBC, Efraim Levy, a senior equity analyst at Standard & Poor's Global, says he "wouldn't bet" on the company making its deadline.
Similarly, Electrek reports on a more tongue-in-cheek prediction by US car magazine Car and Driver, which says that based on Tesla's history of delays, a repeat performance would see the car pushed back until September 2019.
Still, these forecasts are based on one public event to reveal and discuss the car. We'll get a better impression of how Tesla's timeline looks the next time we see the Model 3.
The launch and first deliveries of the Model 3 will see Tesla tick off the last box on its to-do list on its first "Master Plan" – the set of goals Musk outlined in 2006 to develop his company into a key player in the auto industry.
The Tesla chief had a three-pronged assault. The first car, the Tesla Roadster, was a low-volume, high-price electric sports car used to bankroll the production of the Model S, a mid-volume, mid-price family saloon.
Then then paved the way for the Model 3 – a high-volume, reasonably priced EV and the firm's first mass production car.
Now "Master Plan Part Deux" has been revealed, outlining Tesla's ambitions beyond next year.
The Model 3 gets a look in alongside mention of new home products, ownership models, driverless cars and even a pick-up truck alongside busses and lorries. Due to autonomous technology, Musk says a cheaper vehicle is "unlikely to be necessary" and the Model 3 is as low as Tesla will go for now.
Tesla Model 3: Will BMW rival the electric car?
Tesla's upcoming Model 3 has been quite a hype machine, with around 400,000 pre-order deposits taken since its reveal in late March.
Elon Musk's company is promising buyers an all-electric car with a 215 mile-range minimum, high performance with sub 0-62mph times and, at an extra cost, self-driving features plus access to its Supercharger stations, one of the best and most expansive quick-charging networks.
Importantly, it's a Tesla starting from £30,000 – the cheapest car the company has made and presenting the first opportunity for many of its fans to buy one.
First deliveries are not scheduled until the end of 2017 at the earliest – with many customers set to wait into 2018 and beyond – leading some to speculate on what the automotive landscape could look like by then.
One of the new kids on the block, Auto Express reports, will be the BMW 3 Series which is due to arrive in 2018 and will come with the option of a fully-electric powertrain, the eDrive, to rival the Model 3.
The range will also be available with plug-in hybrid powertrains and sit on an all new platform utilising carbon fibre construction techniques called CLAR - Cluster Architecture - which will make the car significantly lighter, ideal for a weighty electric powertrain.
The electric powertrain is said to use a 90kWh battery pack, which could potentially give it an all-electric range of around 300 miles.
That would beat the Model 3's 215 miles minimum, although that is for the entry level car with what's rumoured to be a sub-60kWh battery. More powerful versions with bigger batteries will be an option.
In addition, the eDrive might not launch until 2020, by which time the Model 3 should have been out long enough to warrant upgrades with denser battery packs.
At the moment, there's not enough information as to whether the rumoured electric 3 Series will dent Model 3 sales and vice versa, says investment website Motley Fool. Tesla's head start gives it the early advantage, but the eDrive will come from a respected automotive giant and is sure to be appealing to drive.
It could come down to cost. Many petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series will be more or less on par with the £30,000 price tag of the Model 3, while the electric car could be priced high up the range. In addition, it may be built in limited numbers, meaning the Tesla would still be the cheapest route into premium electric motoring.
Source : http://www.theweek.co.uk/tesla-model-3/70320/tesla-model-3-price-specs-and-everything-we-know