Tesla Model 3: Specs, prices and release

Electric saloon – company’s cheapest car yet – is set to be packed with driverless tech

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has confirmed that the upcoming Model 3 saloon will not include a traditional speedometer.

He tweeted the news after fans quizzed him on the subject.

Musk’s argument for the lack of speedometer is that buyers “won’t care” about its absence, although he later confirmed the car’s “centre screen will show speed as an overlay that changes opacity according to relevance”.

He also likened the driverless Model 3 to a taxi, BGR reports, saying that “the more autonomous a car is, the less dash info you need”.

Fans were given a brief glimpse at the Model 3’s interior during its launch at the beginning of last year, when they saw a minimalistic dashboard with a large centralised touchscreen display at the top of the centre console.

Tesla’s affordable mass-market car also set to include a host of autonomous driving modes that will be upgraded through an over-the-air update programme, allowing the company to add software and firmware features after the vehicle has left the showroom.

Orders for the Model 3 have already opened, with customers who placed their £1,000 deposit expected to receive their cars at the end of the year. However, hundreds of thousands of orders have already been placed and many won’t get their Model 3 until 2018.

Tesla Model 3: Release date, price and specs

16 March

Everything you need to know about Tesla’s next car

Tesla’s Model 3 is due to hit the roads this year, becoming the first mass-production battery electric vehicle to enter the mainstream market in the process.

It will also be the California-based car firm’s cheapest model yet and will rival many similarly priced conventional small saloons.

Hundreds of thousands of Model 3 pre-orders were sold following its debut last March, with customers paying a £1,000 deposit to be among the first to get the eagerly anticipated EV.

However, Tesla founder Elon Musk revealed that the first year of production was “sold out”, meaning many of those who pre-ordered may not receive their car until late 2018.

As well as featuring self-driving systems, the Model 3 will come equipped with all the necessary hardware to improve its autonomous capabilities in the near future. Like its big brothers the Model S and X, the entry-level EV will be included in Tesla’s Autopilot programme, which rolls out monthly firmware updates and extra features.

Here are all the details on the small saloon.

Design

While the overall profile is distinctly Tesla, the Model 3 introduces some new design traits, most notably the flat, grille-less face at the front.

It’s thought the company has kept things pretty simple for aerodynamic purposes, allowing the Model 3 to eke out the most of its charge – it has a target drag coefficient of just 0.21cd for optimum efficiency.

It’s a smaller car than the Model S and looks much stubbier, the short front and rear overhangs downsizing the overall profile. The glass roof stretches from the bottom of the windshield into the hunched rear end, although the Model 3 does not have a hatchback boot. Instead, a second storage space lies under the bonnet.

Slight changes around the back end are now expected after chief executive Elon Musk said the company has responded to concerns that the boot opening was too small and had been hampered by the car’s overall design. According to Electrek, the wider boot could lead to different versions of the Model 3, such as an optional all-glass panoramic roof.

Alloy wheels and exterior colour choices also make the cut. A dark blue version as well as a matte black will come alongside the silver the car was previewed in. The full range of customisation options will be available when the Model 3’s configurator launches further down the line.

Interior

Tesla hasn’t released much information about the Model 3’s interior, with only a few shots of the blank-looking setup appearing during the video stream of the car’s launch.

One of the most striking features is the 15ins horizontal touchscreen, located just above the centre console. It’s expected to control everything from the Model 3’s driverless systems to the in-car entertainment system.

While some expressed disappointment at the lack of a conventional speedometer on the dashboard, Musk tweeted to disgruntled fans that they “won’t care” about the minimalistic cabin, implying the rest of the car will be worth it.

He later confirmed that drivers will still be able to access conventional vehicle information on the Model 3, saying the “centre screen will show speed as an overlay that changes opacity according to relevance”.

BGR reports that the clutter-free cabin will “make more sense” in the future, while the lack of controls and items with which the driver can interact, beyond the central touchscreen, steering wheel and pedals, could possibly hint to the car’s driverless capabilities.

 

Practicality

The Model 3 looks set to be more practical than the pre-production prototype Tesla has shown.

For starters, the car’s tiny boot opening is set to change. Musk has taken on board customer qualms that it was too small to be practical and the company claims it has addressed the issue, meaning it should be easier to load larger items.

There are no official dimensions for neither boot nor passenger space yet, but the Model 3 is a smaller car than the Model S saloon.
Electrek says the interior space will be flexible, thanks to folding seats, while Bloomberg cites “sources familiar with the final design” who say that the rear pew will fold completely flat.

With the seats down, the car’s cargo bay will stretch from the back of the front seats to the end of the boot, opening up around 66ins of room.

Self-driving technology

Despite being the cheapest car in the Tesla range, the Model 3 will come with self-driving features.

At present, the company’s Model S and Model X cars come with Autopilot hardware. However, in an announcement this week, Musk said all cars manufactured from now will be fitted with an all-new system that will be capable of full Level 5 autonomous driving in the near future. The Model 3 will come with the necessary hardware for this as standard.

However, while the hardware will be fitted to the cars by default, you’ll have to pay a hefty premium to activate them.

Enhanced Autopilot features will cost $5,000 (£4,100). For that, you’ll be offered self-driving capabilities on highways, self-parking features and the ability to summon the car over a short distance.

Those who opt for a fully self-driving Tesla will have to pay $8,000 (£6,500). The features won’t be activated until a few years down the line, but ordering them at launch will be cheaper – Tesla will charge more when the system goes live, says Electrek.

Power, charging and range

The Model 3 will be capable of at least 215 miles on a single charge. That minimum is rumoured to be achieved with a battery smaller than 60 kWh, although it will be sold with a range of packs. Cars with stronger batteries will not only come with greater performance figures, but larger ranges, too.

One way to boost the range and performance will be to spec the Model 3 with the dual-motor powertrain. CarBuyer says drivers will be offered the option of dual-motor, four-wheel drive electric propulsion, as on the Model S. They should be significantly faster than the two-wheel drive versions.

Tesla has kept the Model 3’s performance specifics to itself for now, but Auto Express has been for a ride in one and says it should do 0-62mph in less than six seconds, while range-topping all-wheel drive variants should manage 4.5secs. It has been confirmed that a Ludicrous mode Model 3 will be available – the extra power is an £8,300 option on the Model S.

One of the most puzzling aspects of the Model 3 has been the sticky issue of charging. Tesla has a growing network of Supercharger stations dotted around key routes across the US and Europe to allow its drivers quick and free top-ups on the go and they’re crucial to making long, all-electric journeys a realistic proposition.

At the car’s reveal, Musk said owners would get access to the stations and at first, it appeared they would be offered free charging. However, he has since said it won’t be thrown in as standard – and many now believe speccing it could be one of the car’s most expensive options, coming in at around £2,500, made in a one-off payment either when buying the car or through a software upgrade further down the line.

However, a new report in Electrek suggests there may be a second way to enable the feature – “Supercharger Credits”.

Model 3 owners could be offered a pay-as-you-go subscription to the stations, says the site, allowing them to open an account and simply pay per kWh they need rather than for lifetime access.

If that happens, it could mean Tesla will cut the list price of its other models – the Model S saloon and the Model X SUV, adds Electrek.

Release and production

First deliveries are set for “late 2017” – and that’s as specific as Tesla will go for now. However, the long waiting list means many customers won’t get their cars until 2018, especially if they order now. UK buyers probably won’t see the EV until then neither.

We are still waiting for official prices, but Tesla has said the Model 3 will start from around £30,000, with drivers having to pay extra the likes of the dual motor, Supercharger access and Autopilot.

Tesla will have to seriously step up its current production figures if the Model 3 is to be a success. Manufacturing jitters such as those that hampered the releases of its other cars must be ironed out.

The company plans to scale up production to 500,000 cars a year by 2018 and according to CNET, believes it can make between 100,000 to 200,000 Model 3s next year.

Elon Musk needs more money

Tesla’s founder is asking for another $1.15bn (£938m) from investors for production of the Model 3, reports Quartz.

The company wants to reach around six times its current volume of EV production and while Musk assured investors last month that costs are under control, he added that more funds might be needed in order to avoid production getting derailed.

According to a Tesla blog post, Musk himself will be putting up $25m (£20m) in common stock: “Tesla today announced offerings of $250 million of common stock and $750 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due in 2022 in concurrent underwritten registered public offerings,” it says.

Commentators are unimpressed. EconoTimes says cost overruns are “particularly problematic for a car maker with Tesla’s history” and it “simply cannot afford” further delays. “The company has never made a deadline and has always fallen behind on its promises,” it adds.

Adding to the pressure on Musk is leading US automaker General Motors’ hopes to challenge Tesla’s lower-priced model with its own Bolt electric vehicle.

Tesla Model 3: First year of production ‘sold out’

19 October

Tesla is gearing up for its “unexpected” product reveal today, but the company has also broken radio silence over its next vehicle, the Model 3.

The company has confirmed that new orders for the highly anticipated electric vehicle won’t arrive until mid to late-2018, so anyone who joined the back of the 400,000-strong queue will have almost two years to wait to get their cars.

Chief executive Elon Musk announced the news on Twitter in reply to a post from Fortune magazine.

Production of the Model 3 will begin halfway through 2017 and first customers are still expected to get their cars towards the end of the year.

This is Tesla’s first “affordable” mass-production EV and is expected to cost £30,000 to £35,000. Pre-orders can be made with a £1,000 deposit.

The carmaker is likely to go public with final prices when the car is completely uncovered in production form. So far, Tesla has only held “part one” of the Model 3’s long and drawn-out reveal, with “part two” set to happen at a currently unknown date.

Production is dependent on Tesla’s new gigafactory complex, which should be capable of manufacturing batteries for up to 500,000 electric cars a year by 2018, the vast majority of which will be destined for Model 3 orders.

Once manufacturing is fully underway, the backlog of orders could account for nearly £10bn in sales.

Tesla Model 3: Company to reveal ‘unexpected’ product next week

11 October

Speculation is growing that Tesla is to reveal more details about its Model 3 car after chief executive Elon Musk tweeted that an “unexpected” product was on its way.

The Model 3 was revealed in a pre-production prototype form at the end of March, with Musk later promising a “big” event before the end of 2016 to go over the final production version in detail.

Part two is expected to unveil the final exterior as well as all information on the cabin, technology and, perhaps, specific pricing and options.

However, as Tesla fans are already on tenterhooks waiting for the big reveal, none of this would be particularly “unexpected”, says Alphr. Instead, the company could be debuting a home product, charging technologies or even a new vehicle.

Electrek says it’s entirely possible we could get new information about the Model 3, but it predicts Monday’s event will be for Autopilot 2.0. The new system will enable level 3 autonomous driving and make fully autonomous level 4 self-driving cars a possibility in the near future.

The site is hopeful Autopilot 2.0 won’t just be for new Teslas such as the Model 3 and will be offered as a retrofit upgrade too.

The Verge, Musk’s tweet about an event on the 28 October, between Tesla and newly acquired Solar City, will be the unveiling of a solar roof with integrated batteries for homes.

Tesla Model 3: Will BMW rival the electric car?

19 July

Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 has been quite a hype machine, with around 400,000 pre-order deposits taken since its reveal in late March.

Elon Musk’s company is promising buyers an all-electric car with a 215 mile-range minimum, high performance with sub 0-62mph times  and, at an extra cost, self-driving features plus access to its Supercharger stations, one of the best and most expansive quick-charging networks.

Importantly, it’s a Tesla starting from £30,000 – the cheapest car the company has made and presenting the first opportunity for many of its fans to buy one.

First deliveries are not scheduled until the end of 2017 at the earliest – with many customers set to wait into 2018 and beyond – leading some to speculate on what the automotive landscape could look like by then.

One of the new kids on the block, Auto Express reports, will be the BMW 3 Series which is due to arrive in 2018 and will come with the option of a fully-electric powertrain, the eDrive, to rival the Model 3.

The range will also be available with plug-in hybrid powertrains and sit on an all new platform utilising carbon fibre construction techniques called CLAR – Cluster Architecture – which will make the car significantly lighter, ideal for a weighty electric powertrain.

The electric powertrain is said to use a 90kWh battery pack, which could potentially give it an all-electric range of around 300 miles.

That would beat the Model 3’s 215 miles minimum, although that is for the entry level car with what’s rumoured to be a sub-60kWh battery. More powerful versions with bigger batteries will be an option.

Tesla Model 3

In addition, the eDrive might not launch until 2020, by which time the Model 3 should have been out long enough to warrant upgrades with denser battery packs.

At the moment, there’s not enough information as to whether the rumoured electric 3 Series will dent Model 3 sales and vice versa, says investment website Motley Fool. Tesla’s head start gives it the early advantage, but the eDrive will come from a respected automotive giant and is sure to be appealing to drive.

It could come down to cost. Many petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series will be more or less on par with the £30,000 price tag of the Model 3, while the electric car could be priced high up the range. In addition, it may be built in limited numbers, meaning the Tesla would still be the cheapest route into premium electric motoring.

Tesla Model 3: Design tweak adds to practicality

12 July

Pencils will be downed for the Tesla Model 3’s design in just a matter of days and chief executive Elon Musk has already taken to Twitter to share an important change.

The Model 3 was introduced as a pre-production prototype at “part one” of the car’s reveal in late March. A fully production-ready version is yet to be seen – the company is saving that for “part two”.

While the car we’ve already seen should closely resemble what Tesla launches towards the end of next year, slight tweaks have been anticipated. It should certainly be more practical, thanks to a nip and tuck around the back.

According to Electrek, potential customers been concerned about the size of the boot – March’s car boasted only a tiny chute, potentially hampering its practicality.

However, Musk has confirmed on Twitter that it has been “taken care of”.

The Model 3 uses a large, extending glass roof sweeping from the windshield into the rear haunch. Together with rear passenger headroom requirements, this meant the pre-production car could only be fitted with a small boot opening.

Just how Tesla has rectified this remains to be seen, but Electrek believes the fix could range from simply being able to make the opening larger to the car being available in two separate configurations – one of them with a larger boot.

Tesla Model 3 caught on video – watch the footage

21 June

The Tesla Model 3 isn’t scheduled to be on the roads until late 2017 – but one motorist has already spotted it being taken out for a spin.

YouTube user Jeff Klakring has uploaded a clip showing the affordable electric vehicle, a matte-black number escorted by two Model S saloons, cruising on a highway in Palo Alto, near Tesla’s California headquarters.

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