Tesla Motors finally took the wraps off the highly anticipated Model 3, on the night of March 31 in Hawthorne, California, introduced by Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk. The Model 3 is promoted as the entry-level vehicle of the Tesla model lineup. Before the vehicle rolled out, Musk called the Model 3 the “final step in the master plan,” as part of Tesla's goal to “accelerate transition to sustainable transport.”
Tesla says it can comfortably seat five, has a range of at least 215 miles (346 km) per charge, with supercharging support as standard, includes Autopilot safety features, and can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in under 6 seconds. It is a pure electric vehicle, with motors driving the rear wheels. Discs on all four wheels with regenerative braking will bring it to a quick stop.
The vehicle takes the form of a four-door fastback, but rather than a hatchback, the Model 3 features a trunk as well as a “frunk” (front trunk). It features LED head- and taillights, with turbine-style V-spoke wheels. Like the Model S, the door handles are flush to the body.
Tesla boasts it can fit five tall adults comfortably, owing to the fact that the lack of an engine has allowed engineers to move the firewall further forward. The center of its roof is “one continuous pane of glass.” Inside, there's a distinct lack of an instrument panel. Instead, vehicle readouts, like the speedometer and battery charge level, have been moved to the corner of a massive 15-inch horizontal floating center dash display. This display dedicates most of its area to navigation and entertainment functions. It's cantilevered above a center console with flush compartment covers.
Tesla is now accepting reservations in its boutiques and its website from interested buyers in the US, UK, Ireland, Brazil, India, China and New Zealand. The reservation fee is US$1000, with prices for the Model 3 starting at US$35,000. However, the first deliveries are scheduled to start in late 2017.
This is just the first version as Tesla is planning on working to improve its range, as well as offer a model with dual motors for all-wheel drive capability. Tesla is also promising the Model 3 will receive a “5-star safety rating in all categories.” Elon Musk, himself, committed Tesla to doubling the number of public superchargers globally from 3,600 to 7,200 and destination chargers up to 15,000. Tesla will also make their vehicles available in up to 441 locations.
With 130,000 reservations as of this writing, the Model 3 is hoped to bring Tesla closer to its goal of producing 500,000 units annually. To meet this demand, Tesla will produce its batteries in a Nevada battery factory, which it claims is the largest building in the world, by footprint; and will be the world's largest producer of lithium-ion batteries by 2017. Final assembly will be done in its Fremont plant.