Tesla has unveiled its highly anticipated Model 3 overnight, with the new entry level model set to start at $35,000 (£24,000) when it goes on sale at the end of 2017. It is expected to shake up the compact executive saloon sector when it goes into production.
One of the most important elements of the Model 3 is its range, with the all-electric model quoted at offering a minimum 215 miles per charge thanks to Tesla’s use of advanced lithium ion batteries. The 0-60mph time is “less than six seconds” – slow for a Tesla but faster than most cars on the road.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the launch event in California: “At Tesla we don’t make slow cars, and of course there will be versions of the Model 3 that will go much faster. I want to emphasise that these (range and performance) are minimum numbers, we hope to exceed them.”
Stylistically a blend of Model 3 and Model X, the Model 3 certainly looks like a Tesla. With a lack of front grille of any sort, the Model 3 is distinctive, while the short overhangs will help to maximise space inside.
Practicality is promised to be a strong point with comfortable space for five adults quoted, and the cabin will feature a panoramic sunroof. It also features front and rear load space.
The interior looks more like a concept car’s than the exterior. The central control screen has been turned 90 degrees to be landscape, is larger than current offerings and it also sits proud of the dashboard. The rest of the dash is extremely minimalist in design, with no instrument binnacle and a simple two spoke steering wheel.
Charging times have not been announced but we know that the Model 3 will be able to use Tesla’s Supercharger network, while production of the new model will be carried out at the company’s Fremont, California, based Gigafactory. That facility, once fully online, will produce more lithium ion batteries than the rest of the world’s production capacity combined. The car’s on-board charger will be able to adapt to any country’s voltage, making long-distance travel easier, especially with the confirmation of the continued expansion of the Supercharger network.
Safety will be a focus, and Tesla’s Autopilot autonomous driving technology will be fitted as standard, though it is expected to be several versions ahead of the current system by the time the Model 3 starts rolling off the production line.
During the car’s unveiling at Tesla’s design studio, Musk spoke of needing to accelerate the development of sustainable transport, pointing to CO2 air pollution levels and climate change as examples of the need for zero-emission cars. He also talked through Tesla’s rapid progression from electric car start-up to being on the threshold of an established manufacturer, thanks to the steps taken from Roadster, through to the Model X via the Model S.
Production of the car is still around 18 months away so a number of features could change, and specifications will be confirmed at a later date. Musk announced at the end of the presentation that more than 115,000 deposits from around the world have been taken within 24 hours of order books opening.
You can watch the full presentation video below. Images are courtesy of Tesla and taken from the unveiling video.