Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk has announced the name of the company’s much anticipated smaller, more affordable model; it’s going to be called the Model 3. Musk confirmed previous reports that it was originally going to be called the Model E, but “Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E – I thought this is crazy, Ford’s trying to kill SEX!”; you see, Tesla’s 2 previous models are the Model S, and the upcoming Model X.
The Model 3 will start at $35,000, compared to around $70,000 for the base Model S (and upwards of $90,000 for the top configurations). The Model S is really a luxury model for wealthy early adopters of electric cars, with the high performance, luxury car price tag to match. However, as we’ve previously reported, Telsa’s goal from the beginning has always been to help accelerate the adoption of sustainable transport (even opening its tech patents), so a cheaper mass-market model was always on the cards.
At $35,000 the Model 3 still won’t be all that cheap, but it’s certainly a significant drop in price from the Model S. At the stated price, the new model will compete with the electric BMW i3. It’s certainly not in the lower price range of the Nissan Leaf, but that has a much lower battery range. Given the lower price than the Model S, the car will not have the same high performance, but still holds the promise of “strong performance”. No doubt Tesla will attempt to exceed expectations (for the price) in that regard, given the amount of scrutiny this model will again be exposed to. Musk told Auto Express that, “We want people to fall in love with their car and look forward to driving it.”
The Model 3 will be about 20% smaller than the Model S, and will have a range of around 200 miles (322 km), compared to 300 miles (483 km) for the 85 KWh version of the Model S. According to Tesla, much of the drop in price will come from using more cost-effective batteries. With that in mind, Tesla is planning to build a lithium-ion “Gigafactory” to be able to produce lithium-ion batteries at the scale and price needed to supply hundreds of thousands of affordable electric cars per year.
There are no images of the Model 3 design available yet. All going well, the design of the Model 3 will be revealed in 2016, and sales will begin in 2017. At that price, will it be an electric car you might consider buying?