Tesla Model 3 News Update

Tesla is expected to begin production of its Model 3 late next month and it will be a big deal.

The automaker is counting on the Model 3 as the next step in its “Master Plan” of sustainable transport, and many are waiting to see how things go for the electric sedan first revealed March 2016.

Tesla, which received in excess of $11 billion in pre-orders the week after its unveiling, will sell first models to employees who can also help nip any bugs in the bud, if that mixed metaphor work you.

SEE ALSO: Tesla to Skip Model 3 Development Steps, and Jump to ‘Early Release’

Expected to start at $35,000, Tesla does not say whether a destination fee will be added, but it otherwise will be the second EV with over 200 miles EPA-rated range for under $40,000.

Much sportier than the 238-mile, $37,495 Chevy Bolt EV, about the only significant things it may have in common is its price, range, and fact it’s electric.

The Model 3 also seats five, will zip from 0-60 in under six seconds, will have Autopilot hardware, Supercharger access, and is projected for a five-star safety rating.

“Model 3 combines real world range, performance, safety and spaciousness into a premium sedan that only Tesla can build,” declares its maker.

If you were to order one now, Tesla estimates you won’t get it for another year or more as it otherwise plans to multiply production capacity.

As we wind down the final five weeks or less, here are some news tidbits that have come up recently.

Interior Shots

Image sources: “inamachineshop” Reddit user Reddit.

The minimalist ethos continues with the Model 3 as evidenced by recent photos that feature a dominant 15-inch touchscreen amidst wood, leather and alcantara in a pre-production car.

Absent are a whole lot of other buttons, knobs and switches that have been a mainstay for cars for decades. Gone even are the usual array of vents which you can aim, as Tesla is innovating with another way to modulate the cabin climate.

There have been mixed impressions on whether the interior looks the part, or is lacking.

Company head Elon Musk has said the Model 3 is not to be confused as going beyond the Model S, which will continue as the premium, and more expensive sedan.

“ Model S will continue to feature the very best in Tesla technology,” said the company.

Test Drives

Last week Tesla updated its website and started to reach out to those with pre-orders offering test drives beginning late this year.

According to Electrek, these reservation holders have priority and Tesla also hints Model S and X are available now in case they want to jump up.

The move is being interpreted as Tesla’s need to turn $1,000 reservations into full-fledged sales.

It has so many reservations – over 400,000 – that it will spend the next year trying to fill these orders, assuming they all go through to sales, and no other major snags happen in the production schedule.

Tesla’s ramp-up schedule is aggressive, and sideline pundits are either optimistic or pessimistic on its chances of multiplying production to 500,000 cars annually by 2018 – seven times last year’s global sales in little more than a year.

Musk otherwise has spoken of “anti-selling” the Model 3, and the talk of Model S and Model X to Model 3 customers may be more of that.

This is in fact an enviable place to be, and no other carmaker has near the pent-up interest in any product it’s preparing to offer.

Maximum Battery Demand

Tesla has already begun production of Model 3 batteries, and assuming the timeline for the radical ramp-up, the company will eventually eat up the entire world’s supply.

This comes from Tesla CTO JB Straubel, who said “the Model 3 alone, when it’s at half a million vehicles per year, will use the world’s entire lithium ion battery supply.”

Speaking last weekend at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Annual Energy Fair, he added, “we’re starting to make model 3 cells right now” he said of its Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev.

The cells for the Model 3 are in form factor 2170, and Musk tweeted the Model S and X will continue with 18650 cells.

To supply the demands of its cars and Energy products, Tesla has also said more Gigafactories will be needed.

Design Studio

At its annual shareholder meeting, Tesla restated the Model 3 will be available initially in rear-wheel drive, single-motor versions only and the interior options will be simplified as well.

The online design studio Tesla says, will be open in around six weeks.

“Initially, the Model 3 configurator — it’s kind of going to be like what color do you want and what size of wheels do you want. That’s basically going to be the configurator.” said Musk.

All-wheel-drive could be available by year’s end or by early 2018.

China Production?

An agreement with the city of Shanghai, according to Bloomberg, could be announced within this week for Tesla to produce cars in China.

Unstated is who Tesla’s joint-venture partner may be, according to people who asked to be not identified.

Last year Tesla’s revenue tripled in China to $1 billion per year, and the country is eager to expand production of “new energy vehicles.”

If the deal, whose timing may change, does go though, this would let Tesla avoid an import tax and pass savings on to customers, and it would be its first production facility outside the U.S.

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