The Tesla Model 3 is a car eager prospective owners have been plunking down $1,000 deposits for sight unseen, and lining up for the opportunity to do so. It’s a car that could forever change the way the masses think of electric vehicles. It’s a car Tesla is betting its future fortunes on.
To say that the Model 3, which was just unveiled to the world tonight by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at Musk’s SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California, has been the most anticipated car of 2016 isn’t hyperbole. And that’s just the way Musk wants it. In many ways, Tesla has become the Apple of the auto industry and Musk its Steve Jobs. It’s a company – an American one – that’s built hype and buzz for its cars that few others in the car business have ever been able to achieve. But after the hype dies down, actually bringing the Model 3 to market will be a huge test for the EV automaker.
“Even at its base price you will not be able to buy another car with the features this one has,” Musk boasted during his presentation in which he also highlighted the reasons why he believes EVs are the way forward for the future of transportation.
There have been a ton of rumors about the Model 3 dribbling out over the past few months, and now we finally have the verifiable facts straight from Musk’s mouth. There weren’t many, but here’s what we learned:
- The Tesla Model 3 will indeed be priced at $35,000 to start, before government incentives. It’s important to note, however, that once Tesla sells 200,000 units total in the U.S., those incentives will begin to run dry, although it remains to be seen yet when exactly the incentives will expire. So get one while you can, because it won’t be long before they hit that number if they can deliver the Model 3 in the quantities they’ve been talking about.
- It will come with a 215-mile range for a base model car, according to Tesla.
- The 0-60-mph time will be less than 6 seconds for the base model car.
- It will be incredibly safe, according to Musk, who said it will aim for 5-star ratings across the board.
- The Model 3 can fit a 7-foot surfboard and it has front and rear trunks.
- It will come standard with Tesla’s autopilot hardware.
- There will be rear-drive (base) and dual-mode models.
- A 15-inch, landscape-style screen dominates the center stack.
- As of 10 last night (March 31), there were more than 133,000 pre-orders for the Model 3.
- Tesla is sticking by its claim that the Model 3 will hit the streets in late 2017.
As for its looks, the Tesla Model 3 is certainly a departure from the Model S, at least from the front, where there’s a big block of plastic in the traditional grille area. Glass is used extensively to provide a sense of space in the cabin, with a panel that extends from the roof all the way to the back. The greenhouse is reminiscent of the Model X, and is designed to provide plenty of rear seat headroom and overall space for three passengers.
We also had an opportunity to get a very brief ride in a higher-spec, dual mode pre-production Model 3, and it moved out with authority, thanks to the initial surge of torque EVs like Teslas provide. Musk likes his cars to go fast too, and from our run up and down the block, we don’t think that’s going to be problem.