Californian electric car company Tesla, headed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, revealed its fourth model today. The Model 3 is about 20 per cent smaller than the Model S, making it a size rival for the BMW 3 Series and co.
The Model 3 will be the company’s volume driver, and will sit below the Model S, the new Model X SUV and the out-of-production (but still updated) Roadster. It will kick off at $US 35,000 (converts to about about $46,000 Australian at present, though we stress local pricing is not yet confirmed). It’s the next step in Tesla’s “secret master plan”.
The big reveal today, streamed live online, was one of the car industry’s most hyped events in memory. The Model 3 will not go on sale until the end of 2017, but Musk did divulge some key information.
The Model 3 will be, according to its maker, the safest car in its class. It will comfortably seat five adults and their gear, the latter in its front and rear boots (trunk and frunk). A seven-foot surfboard will apparently be accommodated. And they will be able to see out of the entirely glass roof.
Images show a large rectangular screen set in a more horizontal configuration to the Model S’s interior tablet, but the clean and simple design is pure Tesla. All models will have Auto Pilot self-driving hardware as standard (the software will likely cost extra).
Musk promised, however, that the Model 3 would be “a really good car even with no options”.
Tesla is promising the very base cars will sprint from 0-100km/h in under 6.0 seconds and have a range of 215 miles (350km). All will be useable at Tesla’s Supercharger network, currently measured at 3608 sites globally and set to double by the end of 2017.
Naturally, there will be more expensive versions that are much faster and offer longer ranges. Tesla will also offer electric all-wheel drive Model 3 D variants.
Batteries will be made at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Nevada, which will be the world’s second largest building of any type, by volume, after Boeing’s main site in Washington. It will make more lithium-ion batteries than anywhere on earth, and this scale will keep costs down.
Tesla wants to grow its global production in Fremont to 500,000 units annually.
Watch and read our story from yesterday filmed at Tesla Melbourne, where the world’s first in-person pre-orders were placed.