Launch of Tesla Model 3 – the cheapest normal electric car yet

On 31st March Tesla presented their long awaited car that is supposed to change the world of cars as it would be the first mid-priced electric car for masses, sold in hundreds of thousands of units. Also one, that wouldn’t have bike wheels, poor performance/range and horrid looks like BMW i3. Let’s take a look at what they came up with.

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Looks

At first sight, it looks a bit too transparent, unfinished from the front. However, Model S (bottom-left) was a bit altered from its Alpha version (bottom-right) as well, so it should be polished by the time it launches near the end of 2017 (probably 2018 knowing Tesla’s delays).

Tesla-Model-Stesla_model_s_alpha

The most important thing is that the Model 3 looks stunning. It’s a big relief after Model X, which is basically a not so attractive and fat cousin of Model S. If the X had been their first car they wouldn’t have caught nearly as much hype around them as they did with the S. You have to look at the Model 3 with even more awe, because it is going to be a $35k car and You’d be hard pressed to find a practical car with similarly exciting looks and performance (under 6 seconds to 60). That said, I am adamant that the price will most definitely go up as it did with EVERY SINGLE MODEL FROM TESLA:

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Roadster – announced price: around $50k, adjusted minimum launch price: $109k
Model S – announced minimum price: around $50k, adjusted minimum launch price (2012): $58k, current minimum price: $76.5k
Model X – announced minimum price: around $65k, adjusted minimum launch price (2015): $83k

Which says a lot, doesn’t it? When it comes to features and performance they deliver more than anyone would even expect, which is amazing. Despite this, their price estimates are completely understated without exception. They combat those a bit by telling people to apply for governments grants, however basing a company on subsidies is a socialist idea, which I despise. I would rather see government not taxing so many things and seeing how the products compete without those sketchy deals. To sum it up, I estimate that the Model 3 will cost around $45k in its simplest form.

Performance

As I mentioned, Tesla’s performance is always better than expected, therefore it should easily be the quickest (i.e. in a straight line) mid-priced sedan on the market. We didn’t get any specifics about the new batteries, however if they truly made some breakthroughs it might even be one of the fastest ones on the track if they made them light enough.

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The range should be around 215 miles, which is useful enough for a city car and very unimpressive for a weekend trip car as stopping for 30-45 minutes every 200 miles is a very inefficient way of travelling. Unless You’re travelling in a rickshaw with wooden wheels. And we’re told that this car will be pretty comfy. If it would get 500 miles on a charge that would be truly revolutionary. We’ve seen 200 miles already since the Roadster in 2008, so this measly 215 miles sounds now like old news. :/ We also have to account for overestimates in this department from Tesla as well. Pretty much every car had a couple of dozens more miles of range than it actually got in the end while travelling at lowly speed of 60mph:

Roadster – announced: 280 miles, EPA: 244, actual: 180-200
Model S – announced: 300 miles, EPA: 265, actual: 250-265
Model X – announced: 265 miles, EPA: 250, actual: 235-250

Therefore, it looks like the Model 3 won’t even reach 200 in real life. Pretty poor. We’ll see.

Practicality

Model S is pretty amazing, when it comes to this. Except for its low roof in the back it is basically the most practical car that is attractive as well as very fast in the world. Model X is similar, therefore I reckon Model 3 will be very good in this department as well.

Will it be any good?

Based on Tesla’s current technology – yes. It still won’t make much financial sense to buy this car and You’d be MUCH better off buying VW Passat in US or Skoda Superb in Europe. However, if they’ll recapture what caught the hearts of Model S owners and their kids Model 3 will be a hit. The most important information for me is what is the battery technology state. I would assume that after all these years, announcements of Gigafactory and money spent they’ll be able to make another leap, but they didn’t say anything specific, which concerns me if they truly are really developing as fast as they claim. Will it be more expensive with poor battery range as we expect or will it be breath-taking? It all depends on this technology, so I’m waiting for more technical data to judge.

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