Tesla Motors Unveils Its $35K Model 3 Electric Sedan

Posted by at 2:49 pm on April 1, 2016

Tesla Model 3Tesla Motors gave a sneak preview Thursday of its Model 3 sedan, saying more than 130,000 people had ordered the car, even though it is more than a year away from production. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model 3 in Hawthorne, California outside Los Angeles to hundreds of Tesla owners and the media, saying the vehicle will go into production in 2017 at a starting price of $35,000.

Tesla Motors gave a sneak preview Thursday of its Model 3 sedan, saying more than 130,000 people had ordered the car, even though it is more than a year away from production. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled a prototype of the Model 3 in Hawthorne, California outside Los Angeles to hundreds of Tesla owners and the media, saying the vehicle will go into production in 2017 at a starting price of $35,000.

The Model 3 is critical to the Silicon Valley automaker’s growth plans and to sustaining its lofty stock price. Tesla shares have jumped in recent days in anticipation of the Model 3 launch. The Model 3 will enter a crowded field of luxury and electric cars that includes gasoline-fueled models such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series, and electric models such as the forthcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV from General Motors Co.

“Do you want to see the car?” teased Musk, to screams from the audience in the hangar-sized facility inside a Tesla design center. “We don’t have it for you tonight — just kidding!” Three Model 3s were driven onstage. The compact sleek four-door car with no grille features a roof that is a panoramic pane of glass from front to back. Musk said that 115,000 pre-orders had already been taken on Thursday alone for the car. Within a half hour, that number reached 137,600 in a rolling scroll projected onto a screen.

The base model will have a 215-mile range. That puts it within spitting distance of a 328i with the turbo four, and while a gas tank will still offer more range and faster fill-ups, 215 miles puts the Model 3 at more than double what you’ll get out of any non-Tesla EV on a single charge. The glass roof extends from the base of the windshield all the way back to the trunk lid. The overall look emphasizes the wheelbase, with the four wheels pushed out to near the edges and what promises to be a roomier-than-usual interior.

The interior features a landscape capacitive touch screen, instead of the portrait 17-inch display the Model S has. No other specs have been unveiled just yet, but this car looks like it will land squarely in compact (180-inch-long) territory, putting it right at Mazda 3, BMW 3 Series, and Honda Civic size (within a couple of inches in either direction). It’s tough to make a smaller car look long, low, and sleek because of the need for appropriate passenger headroom and safety requirements.

Tesla is promising that to meet the charging demands, there will be 7,200 superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers available by the end of 2017 in time for the release of the vehicle. Today there are 215 Tesla stores in the U.S.; Musk says there will be 441 by the end of 2017 as well.

The full unveil video is below:

 

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