Tesla Reveals Model 3 and the Countdown Begins

By · April 06, 2016

The unveiling of the Tesla Model 3 last week was one of the most anticipated electric car events in many years. For about a decade, the affordable long-range Model 3 has been the lynchpin in Tesla’s plan to expand sales beyond the luxury car market. Starting at $35,000 before government incentives, the car will compete with entry-level small gas-powered sedans from Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus—for younger, less affluent drivers in the United States and around the world.

Since Friday’s unveiling, Tesla recorded close to 300,000 pre-orders—in just 72 hours. Pre-orders for the Model 3 require a $1,000 refundable deposit so they’re not absolutely guaranteed to translate to deliveries. But still: the astounding level of interest they represent was a surprise even to Tesla, indicating that the initial market for the Model 3 might be bigger than envisioned.

In order to convert these reservations into final sales, the Model 3 can’t disappoint its first customers. That means it has to come out on time (or close to it); avoid technical glitches; and earn positive reviews from automotive and mainstream journalists. Here’s some of what the press had to say so far.

Responses

“The sleek car looks taut, like it’s ready to pounce. Yanking on the lever-actuated door handle (gone are the Model S’s electronically recessing units) opens the door to a welcoming cabin that feels futuristic and immediately familiar…Despite the fact that our car was loaded down with five people, acceleration was quick, smooth, and quiet. Typical Tesla.” - Motor Trend

“Thanks to Tesla’s embrace of complex glass forming for windshields and rear glass, the Model 3 offers a nearly polished surface to the wind. The rear glass panel extends to very nearly the middle of the car before it meets a transverse roof support...It will have the largest interior volume of any car in its class—that is, when it comes to the market late next year, as expected—while also delivering the most sophisticated silhouette.” - Wall Street Journal

“The Model 3 has one huge design flaw, and it’s on the other side of the car…The rear glass-to-the-roof is nice, but I know there will be many Model 3 owners ready to smash that stupid glass as they struggle to get a stroller or bicycle or some other common but bulky item into the back of the car.” - Jalopnik

“It is not a game-changer—yet. It would be easy to jump onto the hype bandwagon and proclaim that the Model 3 signals a revolution, but that's just not true. For the Model 3 to truly change the game in EVs, Tesla will have to prove that it can sustainably build and service a mainstream, high-volume vehicle, like Nissan did, while keeping prices affordable.” - Thrillist

“Last week's drivable prototype was noted for its rather bare cabin, with no real dashboard and instrument cluster…While some believed the minimalist interior is what we'll see on the finished product, others assumed the company was holding back—something now confirmed by chief executive Elon Musk, who tweeted that the final product will have an interior that ‘feels like a spaceship’.” - The Week

The Countdown Begins

At the event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized that this is just “part one” of the Model 3 unveiling, and many questions remain. Will the Model 3 have free access to the Supercharger high-speed charging network, or will owners of the exclusive Tesla models be subject to a fee? Does the lack of a traditional instrument cluster signify that a heads-up display is in the works? What kind of autonomous features can we expect? The reveal last week kicked off a buzz that will only accelerate as we count down to the potential first deliveries in late 2017.

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