Updated: Elon Musk took to Twitter to answer some of the more pertinent questions on customers lips after Tesla took more than a quarter of a million orders in just two days for their latest Model 3.

The base Model 3 will indeed be rear-wheel drive (not front) with an all-wheel drive option for less than $5,000 more. The rear trunk is capacious enough to swallow an entire bike while the rear seats have space enough for three child seats. Oh, and apparently there will be plenty of cow bells too…

Elon Musk on Twitter

The Tesla Model 3 Live event has happened and we sat up to watch from the UK at 4.30am. The reveal has been touted as just part 1 of 2, with further details still to be announced at a later – as yet undisclosed – date and time. Here are the main details from this morning’s event and the first pictures.

The event began with Elon Musk commenting on the terrible state of the air we breathe, particularly within cities. This opening statement was followed by a brief history of Tesla, displaying each of the preceding models that Tesla has made to date. As happened with the Model X launch, Elon’s first topic for discussion about the new Model 3 was safety.

Model 3 will have five star rating across the board. Musk, as ever, was keen to point out that a lack of an internal combustion engine helps make this car safer than it might ever have been if designed conventionally.

Elon Musk was also quick to move onto Model 3’s performance, stating, “Even the base Model 3 will do 0-60mph in less than six seconds”, continuing, “At Tesla, we don’t make slow cars!”

Range will have an EPA rating of at least 215 miles with Elon adding, “These are minimum numbers and we hope to exceed them.”

All Model 3’s will come standard with Autopilot hardware and all Autopilot safety features will always be there and won’t be an option.

Model 3 fits five adults comfortably. By moving the firewall as far to the nose as possible without compromising safety and the rear has a panoramic single piece of glass that spans almost half the length of car. There’s also a front and rear “trunk” (boot) and Model 3 is, assuredly, capable of swallowing up a seven-foot surf board.

Supercharging will be standard on all Model 3 too, with Musk reiterating the Model 3’s excellent range and that the Supercharger network offers a, “Freedom of travel”, which after all is what a car is about. Musk stated that there are currently 3,608 Superchargers worldwide already and 3,689 destination chargers (sites like Hotels that have partnered with Tesla) but that figure is set to double. “By the end of next year, we will double the number of Superchargers and quadruple the number of destination chargers.” said Elon Musk. Figures that appeared on the presentation display showed 7,200 Superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers.

Tesla’s expansion is set to continue too, with double the number of Tesla stores and service centres by the end of 2017, from the current 215 locations to 441, across America, Europe and Asia. The precise figures indicate that these are already done deals, rather than pie in the sky.

With more than 100,000 pre-orders taken for Model 3 in the first year, Musk joked that meeting demand might be a problem. However, he was quick to reassure the audience by reminding them that the Californian Tesla factory used to produce 500,000 cars under its previous owner GM. Elon hopes to reach that sort of figure in due course.

To supply enough batteries for half a million cars a year, the Gigafactory will serve as a critical supply line for Tesla. It has the largest footprint of any building of any kind and volumetrically only second to the Boeing facility in America, so it ought to have the capacity to do this and Musk was proud to announce that work has already begun within its walls.

As for deliveries, Musk cooly stated that he was confident, “deliveries begin at the end of next year”.

Model 3 price is confirmed at $35,000 but Musk was keen to emphasise that even base spec car will be well equipped – a fair point given the previous mention of 0-60mph in six seconds, access to the Supercharger network, a 215 mile EPA range and full Autopilot features as standard. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that’s an absolute bargain for American purchasers who benefit from the current Federal Tax Credit of $7,500, reducing the price to just $27,500.

Finally, upon seeing pictures of the interior the user interface appears to have had a much needed overhaul, making the system look much more upmarket than the Model S’ old-fashioned iconography. It was always one of our criticisms of the Model S and it’s great to see Model 3 has brought with it an improved and more beautiful interface. Also a welcome appearance inside is the centre console that sports cup holders and more usable storage in place of Model S’ flat and, frankly, useless tray.

Conventional carmakers may just wake up with a little headache this morning. However, for Tesla to survive Model 3 needs to be an overwhelming success as Tesla has been shedding money like it’s gone out of fashion, selling around 50,000 cars last year but spending far more than they could ever hope to make back with their previous products on offer, the Model S and Model X. Model 3 represents a new chapter, the third if you will, for Tesla and should cement Tesla into automotive history rather than it being a one-hit wonder.

Model 3 is a fabulous looking thing and with specs that exceed every single rival in its class. BMW’s sells around 500,000 3-Series a year and this just so happens to be Tesla’s target. Whether the up-start can rival BMW’s heritage, prestige and more importantly sales remains to be seen but certainly at first glance anyone in the market for a premium small executive should take more than just a glance at the Tesla Model 3.

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