Pre-orders began today for Tesla’s much awaited next car, Model 3. However, do those would-be customers actually know what they’ll be getting? Does it matter? Here’s a quick look at what we know, according to Tesla sources and Elon Musk’s cryptic tweets, plus a little of what we “think” we know, but that has not yet been confirmed.

1. Overall.

Model 3 will have a range of approximately 200 miles. Whether that is an official range or an actual range is yet to be announced, but reckon on the base spec car sporting something between 40-60kWh and a top-spec car possibly sporting big brother’s Model S 90kWh battery.

2. Practicality.

The car will be a five-seater, this is at least what Elon Musk has commented in the past.

3. Price.

It has been frequently stated that Model 3 will cost $35,000 – or $27,500 with the current US government subsidy available. However, this will be the base spec. There’s a theory that there will be three main models, which, after all, is appropriate to the name of the car. In top spec guise, Model 3 may cost more than the base Model S, but it will likely outperform it, be all-wheel drive and be packed to the rafters with Tesla’s desirable gadgetry.

4. Performance.

Performance is likely to be good to excellent as Model 3 will likely use Tesla’s standard single motor from the Model S. In a smaller, lighter car, this could even give the Model 3 a performance edge over it’s big brother. It is probable that Tesla will follow a similar ethos to that of the Model S, offering a variety of drivetrains including an all-wheel drive variant. It is conceivable that Model 3 will be powered by a front motor only, rather than rear-wheel drive, although this is pure speculation. However, it would make for a neat and more compact rear end that would better accommodate luggage as all components bar the battery could be kept up front. Tesla’s current front-wheel drive motor is also less powerful and likely cheaper too, so a front-wheel drive Tesla is perfectly viable and sensible.

5. Materials.

Model S and X are both aluminium, which is light and strong but expensive. Model 3 is more likely to feature a steel shell – perhaps on an aluminium frame – or even use composite materials, like GRP or even carbon-fibre. BMW has shown this is possible on a car of a similar price, with their i3 electric car, so perhaps Tesla have managed to make it happen too?

6. Gadgets.

Well, it wouldn’t be a Tesla without gadgets, seeing as the car is being built by a more technology oriented firm than a traditional car company. Expect a big touch screen display in the centre console and loads of options to add features, like Tesla Autopilot for autonomous functions. The options list is likely to be larger than other Tesla models, which will allow the company to keep the base model inexpensive, while satisfying other customers who will want desirable extras.

7. Supercharger.

When Tesla first released Model S, supercharger access was a paid option, costing £2,500 in the UK. This was phased out over time as the company realised people’s usage and how much the network of rapid chargers was used. Introducing a new cheaper Model 3 might make those Superchargers a tad busy so access to them is possibly going to be an optional extra. On the other hand, it would also serve as a fairly enormous incentive to buy a Model 3 if long journeys are what you want to do in your shiny new electric car.

8. Looks.

Do we know what it looks like yet? Google, “Model 3 leaks” and you’ll come up with a few artists impressions and we too at AutoVolt even created a mini Model S cheapened version, that you see below. We’d prefer not to speculate, although a BMW 3-Series/Audi A4 sized saloon is possible; but Tesla being Tesla, it could just as easily be an SUV styled car like a mini Model X. We’ll find out soon enough so end of speculation. There is also every possibility Tesla will want to break the mould somehow, for example by adding a bread van back (think Lotus Europa) for additional interior and load-lugging capacity.

Tesla Model 3 Artists Impression - AutoVolt Magazine 16 July 2014

9. Waiting Times

Given the unbelievable scenes of near-literal miles of queues that formed outside Tesla stores today, it’s very likely Tesla will struggle to meet demand. Those lucky first owners will also most probably be those who’ve ordered cars with extra gubbins that make more money for Tesla. Tesla will have expected high initial demand, so here’s hoping we don’t hear of too many stories about cancelled orders or obscene delays. However, a two-year waiting list is not out of the question once the initial rush of orders has been taken.

10. Model 3 in the future

Model 3’s success may well finally be the icing on the cake for Tesla, who has as yet only truly released three models (Roadster, S & X), of which two were wholly their own creations. Model 3 may cement Tesla into car history and ensure its long term survival. It may also be the perfect vehicle (pun intended) for Tesla to introduce later models based on their platforms. Model X was built on Model S and it’s perfectly likely that in time there will be a further Tesla Model based on Model 3’s architecture. Perhaps we’ll see a family friendly five door hatchback for Model 3, while a future Model 4 might have a sneak two-door coupé design. Who knows, but the point is Tesla will want to make a return on their investment and appeal to – and satisfy – as many people as possible.

 

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