Tesla has High Hopes for the Affordable Model 3 Electric Sedan

Riding on the great success of the original Model S sedan, Tesla Motors will finally build an electric car “for the masses.” This fits in well with its mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Production is scheduled for mid-2017, with a starting price of $35,000 (not including government incentives). Tesla has already received over 400,000 orders for the Model 3. However, due to this high demand, Tesla estimates that delivery for new reservations won’t be until mid 2018 or later.

Tesla Model 3 Photo: Tesla.com

Tesla Model 3 Photo: Tesla.com


Competition is Fierce

The electric vehicle (EV) market is heating up. With many companies now producing second gen plug-ins, customers are able to go farther on a single charge, and increased demand has resulted in lower vehicle prices. Despite the fact that EV’s currently make up only 1% of U.S. sales, California and nine other states will require that they generate 15 percent of sales by 2025.

The Model 3 will compete directly with the Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and others. As seen in the chart below, the Chevy Volt is a popular EV option, coming in second only to Tesla’s Model S. The Volt hit the 100,000 sales mark last October, having launched five years earlier in 2010. Since the Model 3 has already received orders equalling four times that of Volt sales (in its entire five year existence), we can see why Tesla is excited about the Model 3.

Having said that, GM is hoping to capitalize on the Model 3’s delivery delays. Dan Nicholson, GM’s VP of global propulsion systems, said the Volt “will be the first to market as a long-range affordable battery electric vehicle…it will have more than 200 miles of range and it will be in production by the end of 2016, so it’s not necessary to put down $1,000 and wait until 2018 or sometime after that.” The Volt’s price starts at a comparable $37K.

2016 (Jan-Sept) Top Ten Electric Vehicles Sold in the U.S. Source: Inside EVs

2016 (Jan-Sept) Top Ten Electric Vehicles Sold in the U.S. Source: Inside EVs


Features and Options

As an automotive enthusiast, and one who has loved cars my entire life (I’m from the Motor City), the Model 3 is one beautiful looking car, both inside and out. It is expected to achieve a driving range of 215 miles. The EV’s zero to sixty time is estimated at under six seconds. It provides seating for five adults, and has been designed for the highest five star safety rating. The Model 3 (like all Tesla models) incorporates Autopilot hardware. Finally, supercharging allows for faster charging. According to Joe Carmichael, here are the options for the Model 3:

State-of-the-art all-wheel-drive P90D battery $38,000

Pearl white multi-coat paint and all-glass roof $3,000

Top end 21” Grey Turbine wheels $4,500

Interior upgrades (general décor, premium interior and lighting, ultra high fidelity sound, and rear-facing seats) $12,000

Ludicrous Speed Upgrade and carbon fiber spoiler $11,000

Autopilot (Car and Driver claims this is standard), smart air suspension, and the subzero weather package $6,000

Tesla Model 3 Panoramic Roof Photo: Road & Track

Tesla Model 3 Panoramic Roof Photo: Road & Track

With all of these bells and whistles, you’ll have to write a check for a whopping $109,500! For that you can get three Volts (not exactly, since I haven’t included the Volt’s options). But I’m guessing that the vast majority of Model 3 sales will be closer to the base price. Even at its base, the Tesla clearly enjoys the distinction of being a more prestigious and higher quality car than the competition. For my budget, I’d be very happy with a base Model 3. And between now and its 2018 delivery, I’ll have plenty of time to come up with a nice down payment. We’d love to hear what you think about the Model 3 and/ or this article.

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