Tesla’s Model 3 is one of the most eagerly anticipated vehicles ever. With hundreds of thousands of pre-orders worth upwards of $10 billion, it seems as though the whole world can’t wait to get its hands on the brand’s entry-level model.
Here’s what we know about the Model 3 — Tesla’s most affordable model — ahead of its scheduled production sometime in 2017.
Model 3 battery production starting in Q2 2017
The largest factory in the world has officially sprung to life. Tesla has announced that its Gigafactory facility has commenced mass production of lithium-ion battery cells, which will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products — the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 — as well as the upcoming Model 3.
The Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 cells are being produced first, with the Model 3 cells being built starting in Q2 2017. By 2018, Tesla claims it will manufacture 35GWh/year of lithium-ion cells, which is almost as much as the rest of the world’s battery production combined.
Every Tesla Model 3 will have full self-driving hardware
On October 19, Tesla announced that every vehicle it builds from this point on will include full self-driving hardware. That includes the most inexpensive car the company offers, the Model 3.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean the Model 3 will be fully autonomous right out of the box. There are still significant hurdles to overcome before that is viable, including legal red tape and the optimization of Tesla’s Autopilot software. Moving forward, the brand says it will analyze millions of real-world driving miles to make its self-driving tech safer than even the best human driver.
You’ll be able to sleep in the Model 3
Model 3 owners will be able to fold the rear seats flat in order to clear up 66 inches of space behind the front seats. Colloquially referred to as Camper Mode, the flat surface will turn the Model 3’s cabin into a tent, though taller passengers will need to sleep sideways. The 3 will be completely silent, like all electric cars, so it will be possible to run the AC overnight if the battery pack has enough juice left in it.
The Model 3 will feature Tesla’s third-generation battery technology
The Model 3 will benefit from advances in battery technology that were recently inaugurated by the ultra-quick P100D variants of the Model S and the Model X. The company’s newest battery pack is much denser than its predecessor, and it benefits from a comprehensively updated cooling system. In simpler terms, the new technology will help the Model 3 go further on a single charge without requiring the use of a bigger, heavier battery pack.
Rumors had been building about whether Tesla would have the capacity to offer free charging at its expanding Supercharger network once Model 3s hit the road in 2017. Now it’s clear that only buyers of the more expensive Model S and Model X vehicles will get free charging while Model 3 owners will have to pay a standalone fee or purchase a package (perhaps including with Autopilot or Ludicrous Mode).
Musk was quick to point out that charging stations are only needed where people congregate, like at offices and travel checkpoints, because 90 percent of current Tesla vehicle charging takes place at home. Somehow I doubt that will keep Model 3 buyers from being frustrated with the news.
Tesla’s confirmed Model 3 reservations are just under 400,000
Tesla revealed that actual Model 3 reservation numbers were lower than reported estimates. Before Elon Musk announced that the official pre-order total was 373,000, the automaker had implied that over 400,000 reservations had been made in April alone. Musk elaborated that 8,000 customers had canceled their orders and Tesla had canceled another 4,200 orders on suspicion of duplicate reservations.
Future Model 3 orders may not be fulfilled until 2019
Elon Musk made it clear that delivery wait times were getting very long indeed as he warned that those who want one before 2019 need to reserve a Model 3 ASAP. In April alone, Tesla received 400,000 pre-orders; with only a small number of vehicles scheduled for delivery in 2017, any more orders will lapse in 2019’s production schedule. That said, Musk promised that the Model 3 would be ready next year (2017).
“Ludicrous Mode” will be available on the Model 3
If there was ever any concern that the entry-level Model 3 wouldn’t be quick enough, Musk put Tesla fans at ease by announcing that “ludicrous mode” from the Model S and Model X would find its way into the Model 3. This news didn’t just confirm the Model 3’s performance potential, it also solidifies that the Model 3 will have a wide price range.
Elon Musk claims the Model 3 had the biggest one-week product launch ever
The world showed its favor to Tesla by giving the automaker $10 billion in pre-orders within the first 36 hours. In just the first day, 180,000 orders had been received and that number grew to 276,000 by April 3rd. Tesla estimates that the average Model 3 as priced with options would cost $42,000, bringing the value of the orders to that $10B estimate. Of course, at any time, customers could pull out their $1,000 reservation fee.
According to Elon Musk, that means the Tesla Model 3 had the biggest one-week launch of any product ever. By April 7, Tesla’s books had racked up 325,000 pre-orders for an estimated $14B in revenue. In Musk’s grand claim, he included iPhone and game system launches, which have hit huge order numbers in the past.
The Tesla Model 3 will cost $35,000 and has a range of at least 215 miles
Tesla revealed its fourth production model (following its Roadster, Model S, and Model X vehicles) to a live audience in California while simultaneously opening its physical and online stores to orders. It was here that CEO Elon Musk officially confirmed the Model 3 would have a base range of 215 miles with larger battery versions likely hitting 250 miles. Musk also re-affirmed that the Model 3 would cost $35,000 before tax incentives, undercutting the $38,000 Chevy Bolt. Finally, Tesla said orders would begin being fulfilled in 2017.
By comparison to the startup automaker’s current vehicles, the most frugal Model S achieves a range of just under 300 miles, the Model X gets up to 250 miles, and the Roadster can go for 245 miles. Considering the new Model 3 will be far less expensive all of those EVs, a 215-plus mile range is quite good.
Ronan Glon, Andrew Hard, and Miles Branman contributed to this report. Updated on 01-06-2017 by Andrew Hard: Added info about Tesla’s Gigafactory beginning lithium-ion battery cell production.