The U.S. is absolutely infatuated with the Tesla Model 3. This is a car that up until the end of this month, no one really knows for sure what it will look like. The design has been that secretive and will continue to be cloaked in mystery and imagination until the March 31st unveiling.
But if we believe the hype behind the car’s specifications, the past performance of Tesla’s charismatic CEO, and the technology and emerging electric automobile infrastructure currently being enabled, the Tesla Model 3 certainly appears to be dream-come-true for more than the aspirational middle-class. It appears to be fuel for the fire in moving an entire industry to a new electric power train standard.
First, lets look at the brand. Up until now, Tesla Motors has only fielded expensive luxury cars (which happen to be 100% electric). Taking a ride in a Tesla usually leads to the desire to take home a Tesla. But with the Model S sedan starting at $70,000 and the Model X CUV/SUV starting at $80,000, the market for these cars is fairly limited. To top that off, the Tesla Roadster had a base price of $101,500 for its 2015 model, many of which were sold to Silicon Valley’s start-up elite.
Some see this as a chance for the ‘little guy’ to reach his aspirations, much the same as they did in the past with other mid-priced luxury manufactured autos like BMW, Mercedes and Audi.
With Tesla’s current Model S and Model X offering exceptional performance and handling, futuristic design, high price tags, and an extremely high customer satisfaction rating, the company has established itself very quickly as one of the top aspirational brands in the automotive world. Even Certified Pre-Owned Tesla Model S sedans rarely sell for less than $60,000, which is still out of reach for most consumers. The allure of the Tesla brand alone will be enough to bring many buyers into Tesla stores — or to the Tesla web site — to check out the Model 3.
Next, lets consider the price tag of only $35,000, very close to the average price of a car in the U.S. today ($33,560). But energy tax credits that can be applied to the cost of the car could bring the cost of ownership to around $27,500 for most owners, well below the current average price Americans are now paying.
Recently Tesla announced that it would prioritize the reservation system opening on March 31st to give priority to Tesla employees (there are about 15,000 employees in the U.S.), and also to the current Tesla owners of which there are about 100,000. After these groups, third priority will go to new customers. Regardless of priority, every order reserving a new Model 3 will require a $1,000 deposit at the time of the reservation – either online or at the local Tesla dealership. Cancellations will be refunded, but the energy tax credits and incentives towards the purchase will be diminishing over time. So the priority ranking may have impact on the cost of the car depending on when the order can be filled.
Remember that despite the reservation queue, production of the Tesla Model 3 will begin in 2017, after the completion of the Tesla Gigafactory 1 battery manufacturing facility in Storey County Nevada.
The Tesla Model 3 promises a significantly longer range per charge than almost all other mid-sized and all electric cars. Aside from the Tesla brand, most all-electric cars have a charge range of about 20 to 50 miles with some slightly over 100 miles. The specifications for the Tesla model 3 call for a 230 plus -mile range with only a 30-minute recharging required for 60% replenishment. By comparison, the popular BMW i3 model has only an 80 to 100-mile range and requires a 3.25-hour replenishment time for recharging its batteries.
Along these same lines of thinking, its important to compare the number of gas stations in the U.S. to the number of recharging stations for electric vehicles. As of 31 January 2016, the United States had 12,203 charging stations across the country contrasting to the over 157,000 gas stations. So finding a charging station either locally or while on a road trip will continue to be a challenge to electric car owners from many years to come.
One thing that Tesla offers unique and separate from its competition is its Tesla Supercharger Network offering free, long-distance travel across the U.S. and parts of Canada for its Model S owners. At these Supercharging stations, Tesla Model S owners can recharge Tesla automobiles at no cost. Already there are 609 Supercharger Stations with 3,574 superchargers.
Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots. Each station contains multiple Superchargers to help drivers get back on the road quickly. Experts predict that there will be a premium charge for Model 3 Tesla owners to use this Supercharger service.
Experts agree that the launch of the Tesla Model 3 will be a watershed event changing forever the mechanics of personal transportation – not only the shift from gas to electric powered cars for the masses, but for the smart technology embedded in the hardware and software thus improving roadway safety and driver assistance.
Smart, stylish, economical, ecological and ergonomically advanced, (and now mass-market affordable), the Tesla Model 3 will definitely be a significant milestone in changing the transportation culture for years to come.
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