Last night in preface to the revelation of Tesla’s $35,000-plus, 215-plus mile Model 3, company chief Elon Musk outlined why people should care.
Musk said the car intended as a linchpin product hoped to explode Tesla’s global sales from just over 50,000 last year to as many as 500,000 by decade’s end stands to fulfill a mission to save the planet.
While the car targets the most desirable entry level luxury performance cars from German automakers, the goal is far more than just conspicuous consumption, said Musk, but rather a matter of life and death for humanity.
“I want to start, just preface this by talking about Why? Why are we doing this?” posed Musk. “Why does Tesla exist? Why are we making electric cars? Why does it matter? It’s because its very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport. This is really important for the future of the world.”
Record High CO2 Levels
Many facts could be brought to bear, but the brief few Musk cited began with the observation that global CO2 levels at 403.5 parts per million are a record high and the graph line is now shooting vertically upward.
The last time this concentration of CO2 was seen on planet earth, said Musk, was 11 million years ago, and this is not something humanity wishes to revisit, he said.
As a result of the greenhouse gas levels, average global temperatures have steadily increased, said Musk, now by 2.3 degrees F with extremes ranging by 20 degrees.
This picture of a virtual environmental train wreck in process is playing out before humanity’s eyes, around 70 percent of all petroleum used in the U.S. goes to the massive transportation sector, and Musk said cars that emit no greenhouse gases are very important.
“It makes a difference if we accelerate the transition to sustainable transport,” he said.
Toxic Gases Kill People
“And beyond global warming,” Musk said, “there’s just the fact that combustion cars emit toxic gases.”
Musk cited an MIT study in which he said 53 million people per year die deaths attributable to toxic emissions.
“So it stands to reason that if a vehicle is spewing toxic gas, that is obviously bad for your health,” he said.
Secret Master Plan
At this point, Musk transitioned to the product history of Tesla and how a startup business that was light on capital but full of ideas leveraged things to attack the problems outlined.
Called The Secret Master Plan, this plan predates the time that Musk took over the company. In fact, the notion of a “$30,000” EV with 200 miles range had been projected for 2012 in 2007 by former CEO Martin Eberhard, but the plan remains even though he does not.
In brief the plan was to prove what EVs could do with the high-priced, low volume Roadster. Next up was to be a car said in 2007 to be priced from $55,000-$68,000 – and that became the Model S which can be had with incentives in that range, to more than double that if loaded.
The Model X also came along as an addendum to an originally three-part plan, Musk said, because it was realized half of consumers want SUVs, so the company built it based on the Model S platform.
And now the culmination of the plan is the Model 3. It is to be the next car meant to be attainable to a far greater number of people, said Musk, adding it is due for production by the fourth quarter of next year.
The volume is to make a dent in the global fleet. Last year the the U.S. alone purchased 17.4 million passenger vehicles, globally many times more than that were bought, and the Model 3 wants to make further waves.
Musk said the defiant stance made by EVs that are desirable prove to the world what is possible as an alternative to internal combustion, and the rest of the global automakers are also forced to follow.
In reality, the highly regulated global market is also a major driver, if not the largest, as it enables Tesla also to carve out its subsidized niche for the aforementioned leveraging of resources, timing, position, and products.
No Free Environmental Lunch
Critics of EVs have liked to throw around scary sounding statistics of their own.
The war of words in media as well as ordinary folks commenting on articles often sees discussion of upstream emissions assocated with powering EVs.
The specter of much dirty coal yet powering the grids of America – let alone China – is often mentioned to temper enthusiasm with cars that emit nothing at the tailpipe, but shift the burden to the source.
The U.S. EPA has said it is easier to control emissions from a major source – a utility – rather than millions of sources – individual tailpipes.
Further, the feds and other scientists have said the grid is clean and getting cleaner.
These all are assumptions Musk leaned upon without stating them and his short summation is EVs are the future, and his company now has the one more people want than any other.
With more than 150,000 paid reservations for the Model 3 achieved within the past few days through to the day after the reveal event, it appears also many people are on board.
Of course individual motivations are all unique, and the Model 3 does threaten to be one cool car and Tesla’s Model S has plowed a lot of ground in the marketplace.
Eyes will now be on every aspect of this newest car and its stated mission going forward to be part of Tesla’s long-term plan to maximize its role in saving the global environment, and implicitly human life as we know it.