Unveiled at a special event in California on Friday, Australian time, the Model 3 introduces a new direction for Tesla styling with its bold duckbill look.
Where the Model S sedan wears a broad black fascia in place of a regular grille, and the newer Model X SUV features a slender letterbox design, the company’s newest offering has completely done away with the pretense of a conventional grille design.
Musk threw himself at the mercy of his Twitter followers this weekend as part of an impromptu ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) session. One user declared that the Model 3 “needs better front design [sic]”, to which Musk responded: “some tweaking underway”.
The discussion continued without further input from Musk, with a number of followers linking to speculative custom renderings posted to the TeslaMotorsClub.com forums.
The talented amateur artists proposed a number of potential revisions to the Model 3’s front-end styling, including a more Model X-inspired look and a sharpened version of the official design (rendering based on a TechCrunch.com live event photo).
Above: a proposed design revision by forum member Jordan Joynt.
Changes to the Model 3’s look would not be without precedent. The Model X SUV first debuted in 2012 with a faux grille design that built on the look of the Model S, but it wasn’t until 2015 that Tesla revealed its final styling.
The Model 3 is set to be priced in America from US$35,000, although Musk said that the average transaction price is expected to come it around US$42,000 (before federal and state green-car incentives) with the likely most popular option boxes ticked.
Australian pricing won’t be confirmed until closer to launch, but a figure closer to $55,000 is likely.
Above: a proposed design revision by forum member James Anders.
Pre-order list grows from initial 115,000 to 276,000 over weekend
The Model 3’s looks don’t appear to have deterred many would-be buyers, with the list of people willing to throw down a US$1000 ($1300, although Australian reservations are priced at $1500) exploding over the weekend.
Tesla initially said it had anticipated 100,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours of the Model 3’s unveiling, but Elon Musk tweeted confirmation of 115,000 reservations soon after the event.
Early this morning, Musk tweeted again that by the end of Saturday (US time), the number had grown to 276,000. He added that the “matte black” finish shown at the unveiling had proven “surprisingly popular … Probably makes sense to bring it to production”.
Don’t expect to know how many of those reservations are for Australian buyers, either: as with sales figures, Tesla does not offer region-specific market performance data.
Australian deliveries are, for now, scheduled to begin sometime in 2018. But, if demand in left-hand-drive markets grows too significantly, we may find that the Model 3’s local launch could be pushed back.
Tesla is offering no official word on that potential, but Musk himself tweeted from the unveiling event: "Definitely going to need to rethink production planning”.