Tesla told us back in January that in-house it was calling its next, smaller, more affordable sedan “Gen Three,” not “Model E” as previously reported, and now CEO Elon Musk has said it will be known as Model 3.

In an interview with the UK’s Auto Express, Musk laid out the rationale for a sports sedan car promised to have 200 miles range, be priced from the 30s, and compete with a BMW 3-Series.

The new name essentially gives Tesla its own electric 3-series, and breaks from the model-letter convention of the Model S and pending Model X.

“We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car,” Musk told us. “So I said we had the model S and X, we might as well have the E.

“We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E – I thought this is crazy, Ford’s trying to kill sex! So we’ll have to think of another name.

“The new model is going to be called Model 3, we’ll have three bars to represent it and it’ll be S III X!”

Although Musk’s quote was written by Auto Express as “III” the publication otherwise spelled out the new car as “Model 3” – and only used Roman numerals again once, so this is how we are spelling it here for now.

Auto Express said also the Model 3 will be about 20-percent smaller, and get a new platform rather than its underpinnings being shrunken from the Model S. The company’s British head of engineering, Chris Porritt, is being credited for the new platform.

Poritt previously worked for Aston Martin, another company that knows how to put world-class cars together.

Plans for the Model 3 are to reveal the new car in 2016 and sales to begin in 2017.

Auto Express