Tesla steers masses to electric vehicles with Model 3 launch

In the history of the automobile, this is definitely something we haven’t seen before.

Tesla on Thursday lifted the veil on its most important undertaking – the Model 3. A US$35,000 car designed to bring electric vehicles and autonomous driving to the masses. By the looks of it, and the interest it’s attracting, it just might succeed. 

On Thursday alone, Tesla raked in 134,000 reservations, each with a $1,000 deposit. And that was before most people saw the car. On Friday, the chairman Elon Musk announced another 64,000 and counting. A little perspective on these numbers – there are now more reservations for the Model 3 than total sales of all previous Tesla cars combined. In the unlikely event that all the refundable deposits turn into deliveries, this would represent an almost $9 billion launch. 

The base Model 3 goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 6 seconds. That’s faster than the entry-level BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C Class, the leading cars in the compact luxury space.

The car will be able to drive a minimum of 215 miles on a single charge, with options to upgrade to a bigger battery. Mr Musk said the company would push for an even longer range on the base model, between now and the car’s first deliveries.

The roof is an almost continuous sheet of glass that stretches from the front of the car to the rear, to give passengers a sense of openness. The layered glass is designed to block UV rays and manage heat.

The Model 3 will have two boots and more cargo space than any car of its size. A 7ft surfboard can fit inside the car, Mr Musk said.

Tesla’s signature touchscreen control panel will be flipped on its side and shrunk from 17 inches to 15 inches. It handles everything from navigation to speed.

The car is designed to fit five adults comfortably, in part by pushing the front passengers forward to provide more legroom in the back seat.

The number of Tesla’s high-speed charging stations will double by the end of next year to 7,200, Mr Musk said. Slower destination chargers will jump from 3,689 to 15,000.

Also by the end of 2017, the number of Tesla locations where people can buy or service cars will more than double to 441 worldwide. At the unveiling, Mr Musk focused on the features that come with the base $35,000 price of the car, and said more options and upgrades will be revealed before the car goes into production next year. “You will not be able to buy a better car at $35,000,” he said.  

The way things are going, he may be right.


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