Tesla Motors has finally unveiled its long-anticipated lower cost electric car, the Model 3, at its design studio in Los Angeles.
Costing $35,000 and up, before government incentives, the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla’s previous Model S and Model X.
The car is expected to go at least 215 miles on a full charge – that’s around 85 miles less than the more expensive Tesla Model S but almost double what drivers of competitors cars costing similar, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.
The price and range of the five-seater should make the vehicle appeal to new types of customers and could boost interest in other electric vehicles.
Other details provided about the Model 3 included:
- The base model will accelerate from zero to 60mph (97km/h) in less than six seconds, other models will go faster
- It will include the “autopilot” safety features found in existing models, which allow the cars to steer themselves and avoid collisions
- It will support “supercharging” as standard, allowing the cars to recharge more quickly at special power stations. Tesla aims to double the number of places offering supercharging to about 7,200 worldwide by the end of 2017
- It provides storage room at the front and rear of the vehicle
Chief executive Elon Musk said his goal was to produce about 500,000 vehicles a year once production is at full speed.
The Model 3 is the culmination of Musk’s dream since unveiling the company’s first car, an electric roadster, in 2006.
At the launch of the Model S in the UK, Musk said that his goal was to produce an electric car for the mass market, funding its development through sales of high-end cars.
In scenes more akin to the release of a new smartphone, hundreds of people queued outside Tesla stores in the US to try to secure one of the first Model 3s.
They had to pay a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car before they had even seen it. The company also began taking online orders an hour before its press event had begun.
At the end of his presentation, Mr Musk said that Tesla had already received more than 115,000 orders.
The move should help the firm head off competition from other forthcoming similarly-priced electric cars that will become available first, including General Motors’ Chevy Bolt and BYD’s Qin EV300.
The Model 3 won’t go on sale until the end of 2017, but already had 115,000 of pre-orders before the unveiling and tens of thousands of buyers putting down deposits of $1,000 each. The company experienced long lines of buyers, similar to those found at flagship smartphone launches, at its stores around the world.
A success or not, Tesla’s Model 3 is already changing the industry, spurring competitors to speed development of electric cars and improve their battery range.
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Video Credit: Alexis Georgeson
Photo Credit: Alexis Georgeson