Model 3 on its Way



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Sunday June 11, 2017 Model 3 on its Way Late last week Elon Musk tweeted a picture of the very first production version of the Tesla Model 3 after it rolled off the assembly line at their factory in Freemont, CA.  The Model 3 apparently got regulatory approval two weeks early. 


It is rumored that the first production vehicle will go to Elon Musk which would not surprise me at all.  According to one of his tweets the person who was first in line for the model 3 gave his spot to Elon as a 46th birthday present.


Inside EV reported that an insider at Tesla told them that they would produce over 1,000 cars in July but this doesn't match the tweet that Elon posted right after the picture of the first production Model 3.  In that tweet he said that they will be holding a delivery party on July 28 the where they  will hand over the keys to the first 30 cars. Production ramp-up will start slowly with about 100 cars being produced in August, but then the pace will pick up quickly with a target of over 1,500 cars in September reaching about 20,000 cars by December.  People placing orders today should not expect to see their car until at least mid 2018.


Details about the Model 3 are still a little sketchy and the Tesla web site does not appear to have been updated to match the latest information even though by now they must have the EPA sticker information since this would be required before starting production.  I have to assume by this that the official EPA range would be as good as or better than the range quoted on their web site. 
The car is a 5-seat sedan and it has already been confirmed that this car will be configured as a 4 door sedan not a hatchback.  The car is designed to get a 5-star rating in crash tests but so far I haven't been able to find actual results although  crash testing is complete.  The cars will come with all the hardware required for self driving capability and will also be Supercharger enabled although, for the model 3, supercharging will not be free.


Range per charge is 215 miles.  This is slightly less than the range of the Chevy Bolt and spy picture of a pre-production model caught at a Supercharger seems to indicate that some battery capacity models are capable of ranges quite a bit higher than this.  I should be noted that the pre-production model that was sighted could have a larger pack than the production model so for now 215 miles it is.  The car also doesn't accelerate quite as fast as the model S but still comes in with a 0-60 time quoted as less than 6 seconds.


Base price for the model. 3 starts at $35,000 before tax and state incentives kick in.  For people living here in California that means a $7,000 tax credit and a state rebate of $2,500 bringing down the base price to $25,000


With the launch  of the Model 3 at the end of this month we are going to see a transition from electric cars being an oddity to  electric cars becoming mainstream.  Tesla has taken enough deposits on cars to keep the factory humming for at least a year and if the car comes up to expectations then I expect the model 3 to become a very popular car and will certainly become the best selling EV for 2018.


It's not just the number of cars that the model 3 will sell that will be important, it is also the impact it will have on the other carmakers.  They have known for some time now that the future of automobile technology was electric but while Tesla was disrupting the luxury car space most carmakers were happy to make low range EVs and plug-in hybrids to meet government mandates.  Then Tesla showed off their Model 3 concept and it became clear that they planned to move into the mid-sized sedan market.  Other companies had to react or risk getting left in the dust.


GM, who has been one of the few companies who treated the electric car as a new opportunity, quickly released the 238 mile range Chevy Bolt.   They Followed the usual practice of rolling the car out in California the slowly adding states until they are selling in every state, which is expected to happen in August.  Tesla on the other hand are selling in every state right off the bat.


Other carmakers have been slower to react, pushing range into the low 100 miles area with  Honda just coming out with a car that does just 80 miles on a charge later this year.  Nissan, who's Leaf EV has been the best selling plug-in worldwide is expected to show their 200+ miles range EV in Japan this September, although sister company Renault does have a version of the ZOE on sale in Europe that does more than 200 miles on a charge.  Both Honda, Audi, and Ford are also supposed to be working on 200+ miles range cars too but we have no indication of when these will actually hit the market.


Other companies need to react and the question is will they get cars to market soon enough to stop Tesla from gathering enough market share to eventually dominate the industry.  Personally I think that some companies have enough customer loyalty to be able to hang on to their customers.  There are plenty of diehard Honda fans who will wait for the longer range Honda rather than jumping ship for Tesla, but companies like Fiat-Chrysler might struggle to retain customers.  The Model 3 also has a chance to put a nail in the coffin lid of Fuel Cells too.  If battery electric cars are selling like hotcakes then why spend the billions of dollars needed to provide hydrogen infrastructure across the USA.


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