Features

Tesla Model 3: The Modern-Day Model T?

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Released photo of the Tesla Model 3. Photo Credit: Automotive Rhythms, Flickr.

Since the introduction of the Roadster, Tesla has been one of the most influential automotive manufacturing companies in the whole world. Creating a market for trendy, eco-friendly sport sedans, crossovers, and sports cars has not been easy. The latest product that’s coming from this industry-leading manufacturer is the Tesla Model 3 (officially spelled “Model ☰”). Introduced as an affordable electric sport sedan, the Model 3 is opening the electric car market to people who were not able to purchase the Model S or Model X. 

One of  the main problems with modern electric cars is cost. Currently the Tesla portfolio includes a $70k+ Tesla Model S sport sedan, or the even more expensive Tesla Model X crossover/utility vehicle at a whopping $80k+. The Model 3 promises affordability by starting at $35k before government incentives that lowers the cost (you may be able to purchase for as little as $25k depending on your state). Preorders have skyrocketed for the Model 3. Each preorder consists of a $1,000 deposit, and with preorders reaching 400,000 in total, that just about equals $400,000,000 in profit. Tesla has somehow managed this even without a finalized design for the model or set date for production. And with an unfinished Gigafactory to produce the Lithium Ion batteries, production looks to be a long way off (deliveries are currently slated to start in 2017).

 

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The Model X. Photo Credit: Joe Wolf, Flickr.

Another tick against electric cars is the fact that many potential customers have what is called “Range Anxiety.” Range Anxiety is when a person is concerned with how long a charger will last in an electric car. This is a real fear for customers because the infrastructure for an electric car is not as developed as its gasoline-powered counterparts. The ratio of traditional gas stations to Tesla Supercharger locations is 269:1. Tesla has accounted for this by promising that the Tesla Model 3 with have a range of between 215-300 miles.

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Elon Musk introduces the Tesla Model X. Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson, Flickr.

When Tesla releases a new product, there is a gimmick that the product has to attract the attention of prospective buyers. With the Model S, there was the 0-60 time that could rival supercars, and with the addition of “Ludacris Mode” the 0-60 mph is roughly 2.8 seconds, making it one of the fastest times in the world. The Tesla Model X boasts features like an air filter that is strong enough to filter out bioharzardous air in case there were ever a bioweapons attack and even the first-ever “Falcon Wing” doors found where the rear doors are normally. With the more affordable Model 3, there is definitely a lack of unique features that do not already appear on the rest of the lineup. Something that was added to the stats of the Model 3 is the fact that it has the lowest drag coefficient compared to any other car on the market; however, I can’t see that making up for the lack a killer gimmick besides the familiar “Ludacris Mode,” which has already been confirmed for the Model 3.

Tesla is not the only automaker in the market for compact luxury sedans. Others include the perennial BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-class, Audi A4, Lexus IS, and even the Cadillac ATS. But what the Tesla Model 3 does is bridge the gap between that market and the affordable electric car market, where other models including the Nissan Leaf, the newly-released Chevrolet Bolt, and Fiat 500e are also all trying to grab as many sales as possible. Tesla is trying to compete with companies who have a lot more money to spend on research and development for the vehicles, which leads to better quality and fewer issues when the car is delivered. The Model 3’s reliability and quality standards will be questioned because in the past, other Tesla Models have had some issues in those categories.

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A pair of Model 3’s. Photo Credit: Automotive Rhythms, Flickr.

One sector in which it is almost guaranteed the Model 3 will outshine competitors is safety. The Model S and Model X are some of, if not the, most safe vehicles in their respective segments, and the Model 3 should follow suit. With no engine in the front of the vehicle, the Model 3 has what’s called a “Frunk” (front trunk) which acts like a crumple zone when having  head on collision.

The 20th and 21st centuries sure do have a lot in common when it comes to cars. In the early 1900’s, when the automobile was still a relatively new technology, electric cars were commonly used along with gasoline engine cars. Eventually the range problem did away with electric cars, along with the added cost saving with cars like the mass-produced Ford Model T being extremely affordable at the time. Now, 100 years later, electric cars are back, this time more prepared than ever to fight side-by-side with their gasoline powered counterparts. It surely will be an interesting story to follow going into the future. I am almost 100% sure that the Tesla Model 3 will be the turning point for electric cars in the future.

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