Following several years of speculation, as well as rumors regarding its very existence. Tesla has unveiled the Model 3 sedan, which not only accelerates the company’s push towards mainstream acceptance, but also sets the stage for a confrontation with General Motors and its mass market EV entry the Chevrolet Bolt.
The exterior styling of the Model 3 shares much of its inspiration with the bigger Model S four door as well as the brand’s Model X SUV. This allows it to maintain the futuristic styling elements that have come to define the company’s other offerings, while also allowing it to stand out on its own as well. The sedan does appear to be a bit shorter and narrower than the fore-mentioned models, but despite its smaller dimensions, Tesla claims that the Model 3 will be able to fit five adults in relative comfort. The front seats for example have been pushed forward towards the front axle to help enhance interior space, while both the front and rear cargo areas claim to offer the best storage capability of any vehicle with similar dimensions. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even suggested that a seven foot surfboard could be easily stowed in the car.
Tesla did not reveal formal details on the performance hardware, but did claim that the base Model 3 is capable of making the sprint to 60 mph in less than six seconds with higher spec trims completing the same feat in less than four seconds. The company also revealed that the car will have “at least” 215 miles of driving range which is expected to be a key selling point once Tesla’s network of charging stations is fully operational along with specially designed Supercharger stations. This level of performance should be on par with its gasoline powered rival the BMW 3 Series, but look for range to dwindle accordingly if the Model 3 is used as a sports sedan instead of a fuel sipping icon of the future.
The Model 3 is expected to arrive late in 2017 which will allow Tesla to build an additional 225 retail outlets to augment the existing 215 buildings that it operates throughout the world. In addition, Tesla also promised to double the number of Supercharger stations that it has globally with the firm planning to increase the figure from 3,608 to 7,200 by the end of next year. While this late launch date does allow the Bolt to leap ahead in initial sales, the improved infrastructure will help the Model 3 make up the sales gap, and also make it more viable of a long term purchase. However, with Tesla burning through capital at a rapid pace due to the Model X and other factors, the long wait could also put the company in a financial crunch if early adopters opt out of the pre-ordering program.
“I do feel fairly confident that it will be at the end of next year” Musk revealed with a confident smile when asked about the Model 3’s arrival.
Buyers interested in securing a Model 3 for their garage will be able to place a $1,000 refundable deposit to secure a spot on the car’s waiting list. The initial batch of cars will go to customers that already have a Model S or Model X model before eventually trickling out to other customers especially buyers that aim to own a Tesla for the first time. Tesla was quick to point out that the Model 3 has already generated plenty of buzz with the company logging roughly 115,000 orders in 24 hours. Look for this figure to grow over the next few months as more customers have a chance to check out the Model 3 for themselves.