Electric vehicles and transportation, in general, are advancing rapidly. Major automakers are now participating in what was once considered an obscure niche in the automobile market. Last week, Tesla released its latest electric vehicle, the Model 3. Many believe this new car will usher in the era of mainstream electric vehicles. But others harbor doubts about Tesla’s production promises and the revolutionary company’s future in general.
A Night to Remember
On Friday, July 28, the keys to the first 30 Model 3 vehicles were handed over to their owners in a hyped up night of glitz and glamour. Fittingly, Elon Musk received the first Model 3. Tesla employees who put down the $1,000 deposit to reserve the car made up the next 29 recipients. Of the 500,000 preorders placed, Tesla employees made up about 2 percent (around 10,000).
While these events have become a staple of product releases for Musk and company, others truly believed that this night was special. With a price tag of $35,000, the Model 3 is the cheapest Tesla electric vehicle to hit the streets. Many believe and hope that this could be the car to reach the mass market.
Although, it could be quite a while before anyone outside of Tesla is driving a Model 3. The company has given its employees priority in reservations, so you’ll have to wait until at least next year if you were hoping to get one soon. But you can reserve your place in queue now by visiting Tesla online and configuring your vehicle after putting down a $1,500 deposit.
Model 3 Tech Specs
The initial price tag for the Model 3 is $35,000. This is assuming that the purchaser wants no additional features or accessories. Musk himself estimated that the average Model 3 would probably run to about $42,000. This is still much cheaper than the Model S priced at $68,000 and the Model X priced at $82,500.
How did Tesla manage to drop the price on their newest EV by so much right from the start? As Musk explains, “[The Model 3 is] a smaller, more affordable version of Model S with less range and power and fewer features. The Model S has more advanced technology.”
The Model 3 won’t have any new notable technological features from its predecessors. It will be a little slower and smaller. The Model S takes 2.3 to 4.3 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour from zero. The Model 3 accomplishes the same feat in 5.6 seconds. Where as the Model S can hold 5 adults and 2 children due to its rear-facing seats, the Model 3 will be able to seat 5 adults.
While it may not eclipse its siblings, the Model 3 still comes equipped with the cool features that made Tesla so world-renowned in the first place. One charge can last about 215 miles (345 km). It will support supercharging. The Model 3 will also have autopilot mode. And of course, the Model 3 was designed to have a 5-star safety rating.
The interior of the Model 3 has been the most divisive aspect of the car’s release. Although it still has the dashboard touchscreen, it is noticeably barer than the Model S or X. Aside from the massive touchscreen, all other buttons are located on the steering wheel. There is no standard instrument or control cluster of buttons on the dashboard between the driver and passenger seats.
Some people enjoy this look and describe it as modern minimalist. They think the interior reflects the economic practicality of the vehicle. Others on the other side of this debate view the look as an “easy cheapener” among many others that allowed Tesla to drop the Model 3 to $35,000.
Scaling up Revolution & Revenue
Just as there is a fiery debate about the Model 3 interior, there are also many that doubt the new car’s (and Tesla’s) ability to reach mass market popularity. Obviously, Musk and company are not in the latter category. Musk has never been one to shy away from grandiose challenges, but many see numerous hurdles ahead.
The Model 3 could be the electric car to penetrate the mass market. But to do this, the supply must meet the demand. One of the main gripes is if Tesla will be able to produce the Model 3 as planned. Tesla has failed to meet many projections in the last few years. At this point, it is sort of expected. Model 3 production at Tesla’s Fremont factory is scheduled to ramp up exponentially. Their production target for August is 100 cars. For September, it is 1,500. Then this is where it gets crazy. By December, Tesla plans to make 20,000 Model 3s per month.
Between Elon’s own estimates and Tesla’s reporting for Model 3 reservations during 2016, the Model 3 would apparently bring in revenue of around $16 billion within 2 years. Tesla reportedly earned revenue to the tune of $7 billion in 2016. Financial companies like UBS predicted that Tesla will need to raise the base price of the Model 3 to $41,000 just to break even.
Unfortunately for Tesla, it has recently been revealed that about 63,000 preorders had been canceled since they were opened to the public. While this amounts to roughly 12.6% of preorders, this has not phased Musk one bit:
“I think [these numbers] are inconsequential. With a small amount of effort, we can easily drive the Model 3 reservation number to something much higher but there’s no point. It’s like if you’re a restaurant and you’re serving hamburgers and there’s like an hour and a half wait for hamburgers, do you really want to encourage more people to order more hamburgers?”
For the world’s sake, it’s hard not to want Tesla to succeed. After all, making electric vehicles ubiquitous means making a greener planet. Autonomous driving could possibly reduce car-related deaths by 40,000 every year. If making these things a reality means supporting Tesla, then who wouldn’t? Plus, you have to admit, the thought of waking up in the morning to a Tesla vehicle fully charged from energy gathered by your Tesla solar shingles and stored in your Tesla Powerwall 2 is still really cool.