Elon Musk Adds Details On What To Expect From Model 3

A year after the introduction of the prototype Model 3, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to his medium of choice, Twitter, to share more details on the pending production version.

Due in just three months in July, the Model 3 is arguably the biggest news for electric cars going, and may even be this year’s biggest news among all cars overall.

You’ve probably heard the baseline specs by now: A cool car starting at $35,000 (plus potential delivery fee), range at least 215 miles, larger battery optional and all-wheel-drive optional, Autopilot, trickle-down tech from Model S, and did we mention it was going to be cool?

To date, the only car with similar range and price is the Chevy Bolt which began sales last October in California and Oregon. That FWD compact crossover that was developed in response to Tesla’s planned 3 will continue to roll out to the rest of the country through September.

Musk has said there will be a second reveal prior to the first Model 3s being delivered, but meanwhile here are some of the details revealed.


Although the Model 3 will be all new, as a price leader it will not introduce new technology ahead of the upscale Model S and X.

The front end design now looks a bit like a Porsche Panamera, now with cameras for Autopilot, but the newness will be under the skin. Specifically, technology is devoted to design and production of the car, but it won’t have anything “majorly new that a consumer would notice.”

The Model 3 also will skip a basic process that new car manufacturers normally go through, and that is beta testing. Or rather, Tesla will sell initial cars to employees who will act as beta testers in the interest of getting it out sooner.

If something does go awry, well, they can just drive it to work and get the fix or update and Tesla will refine the car as needed on the fly.

Also perhaps a bit unexpected is all-wheel drive is not due until next year. Some had speculated that the top-shelf AWD models would come first along with bigger batteries as those would be most profitable and that pattern was seen for Model S and Model S.

Here also the move was made to expedite the roll-out.

Musk mentioned the Model S came first in RWD, and that’s true – in fact the “D” was a reveal that came unexpectedly later – but otherwise the most-expensive Signature S models were delivered first in 2012.

Also of note is the battery capacity size is limited to 75 kWh due to its shorter wheelbase than the Model S and X. Those cars Tesla has managed to squeeze a 100 kWh battery option into, but they are heavier, so we shall see how much range the 75 gets.

One person asked Musk if the Model 3 will have more range than the Bolt and Musk implied yes.

The Bolt, less aerodynamic than the 3, is EPA rated 238 miles from a 60 kWh battery. The base Model 3 is expected to have a smaller battery than that and deliver at least 215 miles, and obviously the larger battery options will exceed the Bolt’s range.

Not necessarily news, but reiterated, is the Model 3 is to be competitive with a BMW 3 series or Audi A4. “Model S is like BMW 5 and 6 series, but much faster, more storage space + Autopilot,” Musk said.

Notable also while some have worried the sedan’s trunk will be tiny, Musk said it will be big enough to fit a large cooler, without specifying cubic feet.

When asked if the Model 3 will have a head-up display, the implication was no, but it won’t need it either as autonomous cars need less attention from the driver.

Musk has previously suggested fully autonomous cars could also even pay for themselves by doing duty as for-hire carsharing vehicles. That is, in this futuristic scenario, a person could own and drive a Model 3 (or other Tesla) and when it was not in use by the owner, the self-driving car could be out driving others around who pay for the service.

For the UK and other markets where right-hand-drive is the norm, this will be delayed to summer 2018.

Whether people who are eagerly waiting for the spiffy new EV would be willing to risk strangers nicking, scratching, scuffing, and dirtying their pride and joy is another question, but the idea has been floated nonetheless.

This scenario will be available for the Model Y crossover expected to be built on the Model 3’s platform.

When that will be built is not known, it’s at least “a few years away,” but if anyone thinks people willing to let out their Model 3 so it can pay its way is a wild scenario, so is the projected production ramp up.

Musk said he is telling suppliers that he needs componentry for “1,000 cars a week in July, 2,000 a week in August, and 4,000 a week in September.”

By year’s end, the production rate is projected at an ambitious 5,000 per week, 10,000 weekly by 2018’s end – or about five-times the production rate it now has for Model S and X.

This is enough to add to around 430,000 Model 3s by end of 2018 and for that same year, Musk says it can build a half a million cars in total, counting its other models.

This is quite the jump from fewer than 100,000 built worldwide last year, and no carmaker has ever ramped up at that rate.

In any case, this also implies the Model 3 will have to be quite special as it is hinted that it will be. It will also need to be successful without too many hiccups or glitches.

Tesla has a history of coming late to market, and it saw some issues such as failing drive units in Model S, and a laundry list of bugs in the Model X, so it has certainly set a tall bill for itself to fill.

Due in July, the Model 3 stands to make waves like no other car before it, and eyes will be on what else is revealed between now and then.


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