5 things to know about Tesla's new, cheaper Model 3
This undated photo provided by Tesla Motors shows the Model 3 car. The promise of an affordable electric car from Tesla Motors had hundreds of people lining up to reserve one. At a starting price of $35,000 -- before federal and state government incentives -- the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla's previous models. (Tesla Motors via AP)
Published Tuesday, May 10, 2016 6:28AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 27, 2016 1:40PM EDT
Tesla Motors has long been touted by CEO Elon Musk as the car company of the future, one that promises to bring an electrical revolution to the automotive industry.
Right now, the California-based business only has a handful of vehicles on the road compared to the likes of Ford, General Motors and the other industry giants. But if Musk has his way, Tesla’s recently announced Model 3 will drastically change that.
Here are five things to know about the affordable car that you can plug into your wall.
“It’s going to be awesome”
…At least according to the FAQ page. Details on the vehicle are a bit sparse at the moment, but the company promises to share more as they get closer to production, which is supposed to begin at the end of 2017.
Right now, here’s what we know:
- The base model of the car is supposed to cost $35,000 (USD)
- It will have seating for five adults
- It will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under six seconds
- It has two trunks (front and back)
- It will come equipped with Autopilot capabilities (that will likely cost a few thousand extra)
- It will travel approximately 345 kilometres per charge (more on that below)
We also know what the car will look like, barring any redesigns before its actual release:
You can take it on a road trip – depending on where you want to go
Tesla says the Model 3 will be able to cruise approximately 345 kilometres on a full battery. At that sort of range, you can safely drive to work, run some errands and drive back home before needing to charge your car (which you can do by basically just plugging it into the wall).
Will the car cut it on a road trip? Here’s an idea of where 345 kilometres will take you in Canada.
The car can handle a decent day’s drive, but if you plan on taking a long trip, you’re likely going to need to stop overnight to let your Model 3 charge – unless your route is lined with Tesla’s “Superchargers.”
These free-to-use power stations are scattered throughout the world and can charge vehicles in “minutes instead of hours,” according to Tesla’s website. They estimate it takes about 40 minutes for an 80 per cent charge and 75 minutes for 100 per cent charge.
There are 17 Tesla Supercharger stations in Canada right now – eight in B.C. and Alberta and nine in Ontario and Quebec – with more Supercharger stations planned for 2016. This would make trips from Vancouver to Calgary or Toronto to Montreal doable in a single (albeit fairly long) day. And with hundreds of chargers across the U.S., cruising from coast to coast would be simple if you’re heading south of the border.
Tesla vehicles have some ridiculous-sounding features
Scenario: It’s 2022 and you’re navigating the ragged roads of the dystopian future nightmare our world has become. The gas-mask-clad bandits who haunt the highways hop out from behind the bramble, clouding the air with a poison blast.
“Nice try,” you think to yourself as you engage the vehicle’s Bioweapon Defense Mode.
Reality: Who knows what situation Musk had in mind when he developed the feature, but Teslas actually do have a “Bioweapon Defense Mode.” The cars come equipped with an air filtration system that can scrub the air of pollutants, which the company demoed by placing one of its cars in a bubble filled with extreme concentrations of airborne particulate matter.
According to the Telsa blog post, about two minutes after engaging the system, the air quality inside the vehicle dropped from beyond hazardous to good and breathable. The system even seemed to scrub about 40 per cent of the pollution outside of the car.
“In other words, Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real,” states the Tesla marketing team. “You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”
The Model 3 will also have an optional feature available called “Ludicrous Mode” – something that lets the machine accelerate even faster. It’s currently available for Tesla’s other models (for a not-small chunk of change), and decreases the 0-to-60 time by about 10 per cent (or the time to 155 mph by 20 per cent, if you ever happen to reach those speeds).
Tesla will also make ludicrous amounts of revenue from the Model 3
After one week, 325,000 people had pre-ordered the Model 3 – and at $1,000 a pop for a reservation, that’s already more than $300 million in cash. And if every one of those people follows through with their order, selecting only the base model (Tesla estimates with add-ons, orders will average closer to $42,000 USD), that would already be more than $11 billion in sales.
But profit isn’t exactly a familiar concept to the automaker – it took 10 years for Tesla to turn its first quarterly profit, and it’s been reported that the company actually loses more than $4,000 on every car it sells.
That’s not to say the business model is unsustainable, however. A lot of the money Tesla has made so far selling its Model S and Model X vehicles has been reinvested into projects like its Gigafactory in Nevada, which will “produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013.”
Tesla has grandiose dreams of cranking its car production up fivefold, which will be necessary to satisfy the unprecedented demand for the Model 3.
But you won’t be getting a Model 3 any time soon
One thing is for sure, this is the car of the future – in the sense that most people won’t be seeing one for at least a few years. While early orders might be fulfilled by late 2017, those ordering now might not get behind the wheel by the end of this decade.
Musk himself recommended “ordering a Model 3 soon if you want 2018 delivery,” though even that looks like a best-case scenario. While the company is ramping up production, cranking out half a million cars per year by 2018 is a lofty goal for a car company that only delivered about 50,000 vehicles 2015.
So if you’re itching for an affordable electric vehicle that actually exists in the present, here are some other options to check out (prices in USD):
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: $23,845 MRSP, 100 km/charge
Chevrolet Spark: $25,995 MRSP, 132 km/charge
Nissan Leaf: $29,860 MRSP, 135 km/charge
Ford Focus Electric: $30,045 MRSP, 122 km/charge
Chevrolet Volt: $33,995 MRSP, 85 km/charge
BMW i3: MRSP $43,395 MRSP, 130 km/charge