Tesla unveils its "mass-market" Model 3 electric vehicle | RenewEconomy

Tesla unveils its “mass-market” Model 3 electric vehicle

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Tesla unveils the Model 3 electric vehicle. As the name suggests, it’s the third model of its new range and one it hopes hits the mass market and lifts its sales to 500,000 units a year.

Source: Tesla
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Source: Tesla
Source: Tesla

Tesla Motors on Friday (Australian time) unveiled the Tesla Model 3, the  electric vehicle that it hopes will hit the “mass-market” and lifts its total sales to 500,000 units a year by 2020 – a ten-fold increase on its current production.

This was no April Fool’s release. It was actually unveiled at the company’s California headquarters in the evening of March 31 local time. The event was broadcast live on the net, along with an option to reserve a vehicle, even though it will not go into production until late 2017.

“You will not be able to get a better car for that price,” Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk said of the $US35,000 vehicle. And punters seem to agree. Musk said that 115,000 reservations had already been received in the first 24 hours, and that’s before any of them had seen the vehicle.

Musk said the company had slowly transitioned to low-volume, high price and high performance cars, to “show the world that an electric vehicle can be the best car”, through to an SUV and now, a lower priced high volume vehicle.

Screenshot from Tesla unveiling

The Model 3 looks similar to the Model S, although it will cost less than half the price.

“It is very important to accelerate transition to sustainable transport,” Musk said in his opening remarks. “This is important for future of the world,” he added, pointing to record high Co2 levels in the atmosphere, a sharp rise in average global temperatures last year, and the health impacts of vehicle emissions.

Musk said the Model 3 will fit 5 adults. The instrument panel has been compressed, and the front seats brought “a little further forward”.  The rear roof pane is “one big piece of glass”. And it will fit a 7 foot surfboard inside, Musk said. (Ed: My Peugeot 207 wagon fits a 9’6″ surfboard inside, I should point out).

The high efficiency electric motor provides zero to 60 mph (100kmh) acceleration in less than six seconds. It is equipped with electric all-wheel drive.

Musk said the development costs and learnings of the Model S and the Model X are key for bringing down the cost of the Model 3.

Screenshot from Tesla unveiling

Tesla has sold 100,000 units of its upmarket, high-performance Model S sedan, and is bringing its vulcan-winged Model X into production as well. The Model 3 will be priced at $US35,000 in the US, less various tax incentives.

In Australia, the price has yet to be released, but given exchange rate and delivery charges, it could be less than $A50,000. A recent Australian Tax Office ruling allowing users to claim the full 66c/per kilometre travelled in electric vehicles for business use will also add to the economics of this and other EVs.

Screenshot from Tesla unveiling

The Model 3 has already attracted significant interest in Australia, with hundreds of people queuing at Tesla stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, even before they had seen the design and features of the new vehicle.

By the time production of the cheaper Model 3 is in full swing, Tesla’s so called “gigafatory” in Nevada will be in full swing, producing battery storage for its EVs and for household and grid applications. In 2012, when the Model S was released, production was just over 3,000 vehicles.

The company now has 3,600 superchargers world-wide, and this will be doubled by the end of next year, Musk said, and the number of outlets will also more than double that to 441 locations.


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  1. RobS 4 years ago

    Hmm, not a massive fan of that squished nose.

    • Simon Moss 4 years ago

      I think we are just so used to seeing a grille that the future looks a bit strange. I also think that the conventional auto world is on notice today. This is an iPhone moment and if you miss it you will be the Blackberry or the Palm of the car industry. I just voted with my credit card. Supercharging and autopilot for the base price – I didn’t see that coming.

      • RobS 4 years ago

        It’s the shape I’m not a huge fan of, if they curved off that lip it would be fine. Having now seen videos of it I’m not as fussed though

  2. Gyrogordini 4 years ago

    Beautiful shape from the side. Good size. Nose a bit weird – maybe to get crush space? Nice interior, good screen, and heaps of glass. Autonomous fitted, even if not optioned. Suspecting $60ish on road, minimum. Exciting!

    • john 4 years ago

      Will be less than that

      • Gyrogordini 4 years ago

        Nope. AU$60k, on road…

  3. Brendan Lee 4 years ago

    Way to go! 115,000 pre-orders in 24 hours for a car that nobody has even seen. They must be doing something right…

  4. Jim Taylor 4 years ago

    Pig nose. Not for me.

    • john 4 years ago

      It is the technology hint

      • Jim Taylor 4 years ago

        Like what?

        • john 4 years ago

          EV is more efficient.
          Cost of service like zero
          Life expectancy of the motor about 50 years
          Replacement of batteries in about 8 years way less than at present.
          So which part of the story is a question

          • Jim Taylor 4 years ago

            Yeah but none of these technologies has got nothing to do with the pig nose!!!

          • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

            I can see some DRL lights going in a hollowed-out nose … probably going to be another energy load, though.

    • Alex 4 years ago

      I’m sure you’ll be able to buy a range of stickers to put on the nose to give your vehicle that custom look.

  5. Alan S 4 years ago

    A nice AC style radiator grille would really set it off (yes I know it doesn’t need one). I wonder if it emits any pedestrian warning noises and what the options are.

    • Phil 4 years ago

      I thought same but i wonder if they want people to know “at a glance” what it is.

      You would know immediately it is a tesla 3 in your rear view mirror.
      So perhaps this is a deliberate and calculated design addition – or subtraction in this case

      And/or a marketing move as they can always up sell as an option a sexy front face body kit so people know also immediately you don’t have the “poverty pack” model.

    • Chris Fraser 4 years ago

      Ah but it could use one. A good place to put the cabin AC condenser.

  6. Ron Horgan 4 years ago

    The Clean Disruption rolls on over the internal combustion engine and all who drive in her!

  7. Jennifer Gow 4 years ago

    I don’t regard up to $70k as “mass market”.

    • john 4 years ago

      Perhaps in the $50 plus range

      • Jennifer Gow 4 years ago

        $30k tops

        • john 4 years ago

          $46.6 at present exchange rate
          However lets see where the AU dollar goes in a year

        • RobS 4 years ago

          It will save the average person ~$3,000 in fuel costs per year, so if you keep a car 8 years you can effectively subtract ~$24,000 from its cost when comparing it to petrol vehicles.

          • Diego Matter 4 years ago

            Driving 10,000km, we only spend around $850 per year on fuel. Who is spending $3000 on fuel? People with a V8 and driving 30,000km?

          • Pfitzy 4 years ago

            People commuting who have to sit in traffic, even in a small car, can easily drop $30-$60 a week on fuel, depending on length of commute and size of engine.

            Working 48 weeks a year gets you to $1500-$3000 in fuel at a basic level.

            That excludes any extra travel like the occasional road trip or day trip.

    • Pfitzy 4 years ago

      Me either.

      Prius is a waste of time and too expensive, so is Chevy/Holden Volt.

      BMW i3 is a joke at 160km range and is ugly as a hatful.

      The Model 3 isn’t trying to be a budget car – it is positioning itself in the small luxury area to complement it’s big brother.

      Like all things, market pressure and more/better R&D will bring price down as companies transition to EV. Scale is the thing.

  8. john 4 years ago

    I so wanted to watch the video and i was busy servicing my small EV

  9. john 4 years ago

    does anyone know the link to the announcement ?

  10. john 4 years ago

    ok look at post above for link

  11. john 4 years ago

    $50k or less landed in Australia
    With out a doubt a good buy
    Mind in 5 years will be $35k

  12. john 4 years ago

    If ever you see a CEO who undersells it is Elon honestly
    watch the launch

    • Pfitzy 4 years ago

      He’s a pretty understated guy by the looks. Not much of a showman, lets the product do the “ooh” and “aah” while he presents the facts.

      • john 4 years ago

        Exactly Elon does not overstate the product he just let it sell it self rather refreshing really.

  13. john 4 years ago

    This car is right in the middle of the USA cost for a vehicle.
    The fact it is so cheap to service is going to cause major disruption to the present business model.
    Have you not noticed even the major manufacturers are now getting into the market because they are not stupid they see the writing on the wall and it all says old business model is not going to work in post 2020.

    • Phil 4 years ago

      We have been debating among friends and wondering when the US and/or OPEC will sabotage the EV growth to prevent stranded oil assets.

      Nothing has happened yet so we are still waiting and wondering if perhaps the rise of the EV is simply unstoppable ?

      Is the next revolution going to be going off the electricity grid anywhere enough solar panels can be placed to power the house and car?

      Autonomous vehicles powered by autonomous power sources

      The autonomous era

      • Jan Veselý 4 years ago

        They are now in the state of denial “No, never gonna happen.”

      • Ed Norris 4 years ago

        The Koch brothers are already working against EVs. They are terrified of their impact on oil sales.

      • Ross Carroll 4 years ago

        I think they already are – part of the reasoning for the low cost of oil at the moment has been reasoned to `Maintain Market Share’ or in english – keep the price down low to destabilize the US attempts to be more energy independent and slow the uptake of electric cars.
        But I don’t know if their heart is really in it.
        The Saudi’s setting up their future fund sends a strong message that peak oil has been reached (without them publicly admitting it) and they want to wring out what they can while they can for as long as they can. (Cos they can can caaaaan!!) Sorry.
        The rise of the electric car I think is unstoppable. It hasn’t happened here yet because, well, there’s our dick head government but Aussies are very good at spotting a good deal. So when the cars drop more in price and the recharging infrastructure begins to seriously roll out then I reckon we’ll see more EV’s on Aussie roads. However if the tech I’ve read about in the labs (in Australia, Singapore for instance) where cars will be able to be recharged in several minutes and hold the charge for up to a week then that will be the end of petrol and diesel cars within the decade world wide I reckon. Though I am by nature an optimist.

  14. john 4 years ago

    At 75c in dollar 50 k is less than $47k Au

  15. Gyrogordini 4 years ago

    135k orders, and still going, I see…

    • Colin Nicholson 4 years ago


  16. Jennifer Gow 4 years ago

    I’ still hanging out for practical sub $30k electric car that would replace the current basic 1.6 litre 4 cylinder hatchback we currently drive. I need reasonable rang given the almost total lack of charging infrastructure here, but I have no need for the sports car performance. I guess i will have to wait for the Koreans or Chinese to produce it. It certainly will never be made by the Australian car industry dying of irrelevance.

    • Ed Norris 4 years ago

      The Nissan Leaf is at 110+ miles of EV range already, with a 200 mile version already on the way. The higher model fast charges a shade slower than the Tesla, but at about 3 miles a minute. Depending on where you live, you might get upwards of $10K of tax credits, which applies to lowering a lease price too, if you can’t claim that all in one year.

      That sounds it like that might be the car for you.

      • Jennifer Gow 4 years ago

        The Nissan Leaf is a shade over $50k in Australia which is already getting in ti the luxury car range and, with a federal government that believes “climate change is crap, there no tax credits here. There seems to be an “Australia tax” on electronics, software and it would seem imported cars that doesn’t seem to apply is the USA.

        • Mark Melocco 4 years ago

          Hi Jennifer, the real price for a ‘new’ Leaf is more like $35,000 as there are a number of unsold Leafs with 2 or 3 year old compliance plates. For example http://www.carsales.com.au/dealer/details/Nissan-LEAF-2012/OAG-AD-12484780/?Cr=3
          If you are serious and OK with an the older plate and limited range of the Leaf you can go electric now.

          • Ross Carroll 4 years ago

            It’s all true what Mark says Jennifer. I’ve been looking as well and there are cars around the 35 to 40k or so mark for sale.
            I live in Port Stephens in a little place called Anna Bay and theres a bloke down the road with a Leaf he picked up for 40k.
            Best purchase he ever made (I bailed him up in a shopping centre car park to chat with him) He drives about town and the odd trip to Newcastle for nothing. He has another car for longer trips to Sydney etc but for the day to day he uses his Leaf and with his solar panels, it costs him next to nothing to run.

        • JeffJL 4 years ago

          Jennifer, the LEAF is $AUS 40k on road. (It did come out at $52+on road costs). Good luck getting one though. Almost none in Australia left to sell.

        • David Osmond 4 years ago

          I believe the Leaf is $39,990 drive away. It was over $50k when first released in 2011, but the price was dropped to $40k a couple of years later

  17. MaxG 4 years ago

    Forget comparing the car to anything. It is a class on its own. Pig nose or not; I love what it stands for… and hope I can buy a Model III one day. 🙂

  18. Diego Matter 4 years ago

    Important detail:
    Musk said, “the model 3 will have a minimum of 215 miles or 346 km range, and that is a conservative number.”

    That’s much better than all other EV’s on the market at the moment.

    • Ed Norris 4 years ago

      Except that the Chevy Bolt is going to beat it there. 220 miles of range by the beginning of 2017 will hit the market before Tesla. Not as snazzy, but zero to 60 in 7 seconds is damn good. And hatchbacks are more practical.

      • Pfitzy 4 years ago

        It is great to see traditional manufacturer’s respond.

        It will be interesting to see if Australia is going to get quantities of the Bolt and what the charging infrastructure is like. A big concern I’ve got is not only ubuiqity, but compatibility, between manufacturers. I’ve not looked into that.

      • Diego Matter 4 years ago

        The BBC reports for the Bolt “more than 200 miles (322km) on a full charge and a 60kWh lithium-ion battery.”

        Comparing the two shapes I doubt that the hatchback Bolt will be roomier and that it will have more storage space.

  19. Webber Depor 4 years ago

    wait 30 min to reload. electric battery dies a few years later. nope

    • Ed Norris 4 years ago

      You drive your car 24 hours a day? You never stop on road trips to eat for 20-30 minutes?

      These batteries are showing they can handle upwards of 5000 cycles. Pay attention. You’ll end up being left in the dust.

    • RobS 4 years ago

      excellent, one less person in front of me in the 250,000 person queue 18 months out from release. If you don’t have a 20-30 min break every three hours of driving then I just pray you’re not driving anywhere near me.

      • Colin Nicholson 4 years ago

        I’m in front of you na na, na na

  20. DogzOwn 4 years ago

    “price of only $10,623 for Nissan LEAF S after tax credits and incentives, demand quickly exceeded expectations.”

  21. JohnM 4 years ago

    Here’s the best bit: We can’t afford to replace all the ICE vehicles in the world with electric without a massive consumption of energy and resources.
    As usual, Elon Musk thought this through and came up with yet another elegant solution…The skateboard.
    If other manufacturers adopt this approach, we have a win/win.
    There are also many small cars ideally suited to electric conversion for around 20-30k.
    This will soon become a major industry.

  22. Diego Matter 4 years ago

    Australia’s car industry could produce the Tesla Model 3 for the Asian market.

    A little hint Mr. Turnbull or Mr. Shorten, be “innovative” and make it happen!

    • Pfitzy 4 years ago

      Labor cost might be too high here as our existing automotive industry showed.

      We should, however, look to capitalise on the R&D we can perform here to make our patents and IP as valuable as possible, and license them. If the gutting of institutions like the CSIRO and ongoing mining subsidies could be wound in a little, it could get us through the downturn that is coming.

      The government just hasn’t got its head out of its bum on mining yet, because they’re hip-deep in lobby money

  23. Tristan Edis 4 years ago

    Giles, 7 feet of surfboard is plenty. Only lazy paddlers need 9ft 6.

    • Jonathan Prendergast 4 years ago

      And beginners like me..

      • Tristan Edis 4 years ago

        Go the 7S superfish if you’re a beginner and will comfortably fit in Model 3 without roof racks.

    • Giles 4 years ago

      horses for courses. 7′ won’t get you far in these parts, Tristan. gotta learn to glide the wave, not to fight it! besides, i’ve trimmed down to 9’5″.

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