Nearly two and a half years after slapping $1,500 into the bank account of Tesla as a deposit for an electric vehicle they had never seen, thousands of people finally got to look at and touch – but not drive – the Model 3 EV they had signed up for.
At simultaneous unveilings in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australians for the first time got to see the Model 3, albeit a left-hand drive version.They will likely be waiting at least another year before they get the EV they ordered.
Australia and New Zealand have become the first markets outside north America where the Model 3 has been on show. But construction of the right-hand drive versions will not begin till mid next year – so it will likely be late 2019 or early 2020 when most of the reservation holders get their car.
Model S owners will get priority over the first deliveries, as will Tesla employees.
Tesla has cited a global reservation queue of nearly half a million for the Model 3, which founder Elon Musk says is now being produced at more than 5,000 per week. But they have never broken down the figures for each country.
A Tesla spokesman says invites were sent to “thousands” of reservation holders in Australia, and the major showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were closed for the day (well, until 2pm in Brisbane).
Queues formed outside both the Sydney and Melbourne show-rooms, but as you can hear from the audio below, no one seemed to mind. It will be open to the public again from tomorrow.
The Model 3 is pretty much as described by most of the reviews that have taken place in the US and Canada.
Here’s some interesting updates for Australian customers.
Australia will be served by all versions of the Model 3 – standard, long range and performance. Tesla have remained quiet about the kWh capacity of these versions, other than saying the standard comes with 350km and long range at 500km.
Acceleration ranges from 3.5s to 5.6s to get from nought to 100kWh.
Tesla still expects the basic model to be a rough foreign exchange translation of the $US35,000 advertised for the US, plus local taxes. The standard model is not yet in production in the US, but will be by the time the right-hand drives are built.
The longer range performance models – based on US pricing – are likely to attract luxury sales tax in Australia, which for EVs begins at $A72,000, and that will add 30c to every extra dollar.
We got a quick appraisal and run down of its features, and did our own quick walk-through on this iPhone video here.
Key points to note: The standard car does not come with a glass roof over the whole car, the driver and front passenger miss out. The doors are unlocked via smart phone (up to 12 can be paired), and if that’s not available, a hotel-style swipe key also unlocks the door.
It looks much like the Model S, but a smaller version. That includes flush door handles, and it means the boot, while still spacious, is smaller, but has extra capacity where a fuel tank would be in an ICE car.
And it has room for only carry on luggage under the hood, although everyone seemed to be chuffed it has hooks to prevent take away curries falling over.
Who puts take-away under the bonnet?
The front compartment can also serve as a type of “wet-box” for wet-suits and the like. The back seats fold down to allow for a double bed, although it does not have the “camping” mode offered by the Model S, which allows for non-essential power to be switched off.
The interior is minimalist, with all the controls on a single screen in the middle, and a few buttons on the driving wheel. It comes with eight cameras and 12 “ultrasonic” radars, which means it can be fully automated once that technology, and regulations, allow.
It’s reasonably spacious for a small to medium car, although like other other models, tall people like me have to duck to get in the back seat – that said, the sun roof affords an extra 3cm of head room.
Disclaimer: The writer also has a deposit on the Model 3, and while liking the look, is mortified that it does not come with roof racks for his longboard, which is his major reason for driving anywhere. Tesla has 12 months to fix this omission!