The Tesla Model 3 may be the most anticipated electric car on the horizon and as people search for news, a few tidbits of new and seemingly new information surfaced last week.
Some of it appears to be conjecture, but Autocar, a widely read publication in the UK last Thursday authoritatively stated the Model 3 “will be revealed March 2016,” around eight months from now, and will go on sale in mid-2017.
This has been picked up and re-reported, but the date-certain statement actually adds to something CEO Elon Musk said in May.
“We are looking to start production of the Model 3 in second half of 2017,” Musk said with less than full certainty. “We are hoping to show the Model 3 in March (or around then) of next year.”
Quicker Than Original Model S P85 Performance?
What may be a revelation to some however is the “200-mile” range Model 3 – which is broadly reported to be a competitor range-wise to the pending “200-mile range” Chevy Bolt and 200-250 mile estimated range next-generation Nissan Leaf will be more than that.
Without revealing where it learned it, Autocar said the Model 3 won’t just be a Bolt or Leaf beater in the range department with up to “300 miles,” it could be a BMW M3 beater and vie head-to-head with potent gas-powered cars in this echelon with a blazing quick 0-60 time.
“[S}ources have indicated that performance up to 62 mph could eclipse that of the BMW M3, which records a 0-62 mph time of 4.1 seconds,” said Autocar.
While readers have seen the 0-60 mph time of the Model S plummet with a 3.2-second “Insane” P85D last fall, and 2.8-second “Ludicrous” P90D, a time of 4.1 seconds is still right quick, and the Model 3, said Autocar, will be quicker.
Note the measurement is 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in Europe which could mean under 4 seconds to 60 from Tesla’s $35,000 and up “entry level” car meant for “the masses.”
If true, the budget Tesla may beat the fastest 4.2-second Model S of just a couple years ago, which to many might come as no surprise given the company’s over-the-air updates, and continual evolution philosophy.
For now this statistic too is not verified by Tesla which has successfully prevented prying cameras from detecting any test mules or preproduction prototypes of the “volume” EV expected to increase its growth.
As a point of comparison, pictures of a prototype Model S were published in 2009, a few years before its mid-2012 launch, and the Model X was revealed in early 2012 but is just arriving third quarter of this year.
The Model 3 will have much less lead time from “March 2016” to just a year-and-a-quarter later in “mid 2017,” assuming this timeline is accurate. This coupled with Tesla’s saying in 2012 it had hoped to have revealed the Model 3 by early this year has inspired cynical observers to opine problems are also not being revealed behind the scenes.
Tesla has however said the Model 3 is a priority for it, and while it is late, the rapidly going-up Gigafactory battery plant indicates seriousness of intent.
And, the car originally targeted at 200 miles range keeps getting better on paper, if for now only on paper (or in peoples’ imaginations).
Even before the Model 3 gets here, while it’s expected to cost half as much as a Model S, and be maybe 20-percent smaller if reports are correct, it nearly matches the Model S where it counts.
If the Model 3 gets an all-wheel-drive version enabling sub-four-seconds to 60, that would be an option over standard rear-wheel-drive, and unclear from Autocar’s “sources” is whether the time will be by a 2WD or 4WD Model 3.
Also Model S-like is the range. It’s now ballooned to “300” whole miles – maybe.
“Batteries will come from Tesla’s so-called Gigafactory in Nevada, USA and sources suggest it will have a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge,” says Autocar.
Here too, recall the standard 85-kilowatt-hour Model S on Europe’s NEDC cycle is rated up to 312 miles (502 km). In the U.S., the EPA says the same specification is good for 265 miles.
So, will the Model 3 be nearly equal, or could it beat the present Model S with newer battery chemistry by 2017?
A Platform, Not Just a Model
The Model 3 people usually think of is a four-door sedan, and it will be, but various reports have indicated Tesla is considering basing on it an SUV, a coupe, a station wagon – and maybe even a pickup, according to Autocar.
“Tesla insiders have also revealed that the Model 3 has been engineered to accommodate a number of different body styles if the manufacturer decides to make them,” reports the publication. “As well as traditional estate and coupe options, company bosses have previously talked about making a Tesla pick-up.”
Here too, Tesla has not officially confirmed multiple variants, but whatever it does, the Model 3 sedan is expected to use much less aluminum to save costs over the Model S.
“I expect there will be very little carry-over [from the Model S]. We’ve got to be cost-effective. We can’t use aluminum for all the [small car’s] components,” said Chris Porritt, Tesla’s vice-president of engineering.
A likely replacement would be steel, which may be bonded and riveted, suggested Autocar.
Styling wise, the Model 3 is supposed to branch out into creating a more distinctive look for Tesla.
“We will become more experimental as we develop as a brand,” said Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, “Our cars need to have some personality.”
Top Image: Unplugged Performance