Filming and editing: Adam Shaw
Tesla Motors has always been about the long game. In 2006, CEO Elon Musk published an article jokingly entitled ‘The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan’, although Musk was serious about the company’s goal to advance the electric car by driving “down [the] market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.”
First came the Tesla Roadster: a £90,000 sports car that proved that electric vehicles could be just as high performance as the fastest petrol alternatives. Next came the Model S and Model X: luxurious cars that are priced way above £50,000.
Immediately before Elon Musk’s unveiling of the Model 3 on March 31, excitement and expectations for Tesla’s first mass electric car were at fever pitch. Long queues began to form around Tesla’s stores with prospective customers ready to throw down a $1,000 USD deposit on a car that had never been shown publically.
We soon learnt that the Model 3 vehicle delivers a range of 215 miles, a 0-60mph time of only six seconds, and comes with a starting price of $35,000 USD. The car’s features and design quickly drew huge consumer interest, with pre-orders for the Model 3 now approaching 400,000 reservations. Riding on this monumental success, Tesla declared the week of the Model 3’s first showing as ‘The Week that Electric Vehicles Went Mainstream’.
Yet, it is key to remember that Model 3s will not be getting into customers’ hands before late 2017. This gives customers a lot of time to change their minds or be wooed by another competitor’s vehicles. As many commenters have also pointed out, there is a big difference between a customer depositing the $1,000 USD for the refundable reservation and paying the full $35,000 USD for the base-level Model 3. Other industry experts have highlighted how this unstable reservation system makes it harder for Tesla to plan the manufacturing of the vehicles – an area in which the company already has a reputation for making errors.
Is the Tesla Model 3 going to be the first true mass electric car? It is an important step towards the company’s ultimate goal of promoting electric car adoption – but $35,000 USD is still a lot of money.