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Tesla promises its BMW-fighting Model 3 will be ready in less than a year

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Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Tesla Motors will introduce the long-awaited (and long-overdue) Model X crossover in a couple of months. Looking ahead, the company ambitiously promises it will be ready to show the production version of the BMW 3 Series-fighting Model 3 in March of next year.

Positioned at the very bottom of the Tesla lineup, the Model 3 will take the form of an aerodynamic four-door sedan that will be about 20 percent smaller in all directions than the Model S. Tesla said earlier this year that it will not go “super crazy” with the design in order to avoid costly delays, and we expect the 3 will borrow more than a handful of styling cues from the bigger S and the upcoming X.

Tesla has not revealed if the 3 will ride on a brand new platform or if it will be built on a shortened version of the platform that current underpins the S. What’s certain is that it will be powered by a state-of-the-art all-electric drivetrain that will allow it to offer a maximum driving range of 200 miles in its most basic configuration.

Rear-wheel drive will come standard, and a dual-motor all-wheel drive system will likely be available at an extra cost. Additionally, more powerful versions of the 3 will gradually be added to the lineup over the course of the production run.

The Model 3 will carry a base price of about $35,000 before hefty federal and local government incentives are factored in, making it cheaper than Chevrolet’s upcoming Bolt EV. It will quickly become the company’s most popular model in the United States and in other key markets including China.

Interested in what’s shaping up to be an electric 3 Series? Don’t get your wallet out just yet: the Model 3 will be shown to the public for the first time in March of next year but Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts that production won’t kick off until mid-2017 at the earliest.