As promised, tonight (Mar. 31) Tesla Motors revealed its Model 3 at its Hawthorne Design Studio in Los Angeles.
In fact three of the sleek Model 3 sedans with rounded roofs and myriad other design elements reminiscent of the Model S and Model X were symbolically driven on stage.
The car is to start at $35,000 said CEO and master of ceremonies Elon Musk to a packed house, and even models with no options will be very nice, he promised.
Base models are projected to get at least 215 miles EPA rated range and run from 0-60 mph in under six seconds.
“I want to emphasize these are minimum numbers and we hope to exceed them,” said Musk.
All Model 3s are also to be equipped and ready for Supercharging, and Autopilot semi-autonomous driving capabilities.
Musk said the global total of 3,608 Superchargers and 3,689 destination chargers will balloon by end of 2017 to 7,200 Superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers.
The end of 2017 is important as this is when Musk said the production Model 3 will be launched, after which he paused and qualified the statement.
“I do feel fairly confident that it will be next year,” said Musk with a laugh and smiling.
Launching will be all the easier next year also, as in the same timeframe as the charging spots expand, so will physical Tesla locations – from 215 now to 441.
Musk said also the Model 3 will comfortably seat five adults and be spacious enough to fit a seven-foot surfboard inside, with “more cargo capacity of any gas car of same external dimensions.”
To get the extra space, Musk said what would be the firewall – the EV actually has no “fire” wall between the frunk and cabin – was moved forward to buy extra legroom front and back.
At the same time, the car is touted to be super safe, and this is a priority at Tesla, he said. Expect five stars out of five in all categories, said Musk.
Secret Master Plan
The unveiling had been preceded by a walk-though of Tesla’s production car history from the Roadster to the Model S then Model X launched last year, and now the Model 3.
Musk said the company is making good on his first blog post from August 2006 which outlined the goal to radically put a dent in global CO2 and other emissions from oil-dependent transportation.
The Roadster, observed Musk, had inspired former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to build the Chevy Volt, and Nissan’s Leaf also came along in response to Tesla’s first car and the Volt.
That first proof of concept had been of necessity high cost and low volume, yet it by itself kicked off the beginning of the mainstream plug-in electrified vehicle market.
The Model S and Model X were to be lower priced and though a sub-$50,000 Model S iteration (after $7,500 federal credit) was canceled, it was a bit lower priced from the lower 70s than the first Roadster.
The former GM/Toyota NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. has produced that much before, observed Musk, and the Gigafactory battery plant and other support are also coming into place to make it all feasible.
The half-hour presentation and overview ended so those in attendance could drive prototypes of the new 3.
Notably absent were specifications and other details and Musk has said a second presentation much closer to launch will reveal much more for the car he said would actually “evolve” between now and production time.
Higher-power, quicker versions will also be made available, and the company has reserved for itself the right of future surprises.
An at any rate, the car by all accounts looks to be exceeding expectations already.
Musk said as he spoke more than 115,000 reservations worldwide had been placed, and no doubt that number will increase.