Friday, April 01, 2016

Tesla Unveils Its Model 3 for the Masses

Tesla Model 3 Design Prototype (Credit: Tesla) Click to Enlarge.
Tesla Motors Inc.'s unveiling of its new electric vehicle yesterday had the marks of an iPhone release -- long lines of enthusiastic consumers, a glossy product and a CEO presenting in a simple black shirt.

Little new information came out about the Model 3, but with the car's comparably more affordable $35,000 price tag and 215-mile range, Tesla is making a bid to become a mass-market auto manufacturer.

Worldwide preorders for the car reached 115,000 and kept climbing last night, more than the total number of electric vehicles sold in the United States last year.  Tesla had slightly more than 100,000 cars on the road as of the end of last year.

It took three cars to get there, said the automaker's CEO and chairman, Elon Musk.

"With any new technology, it takes multiple iterations and economies of scale before you can make it affordable," Musk at the event at the firm's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

The company still faces several barriers, like production delays and the lack of a robust dealer network.  But Musk has hoped to unlock EVs for the masses for years.  The Model S and Model X, selling respectively for around $70,000 and more than $120,000, have so far largely remained niche products.
The car will have an EPA rating of at least 215 miles per charge.  The base model will accelerate from zero to 60 mph within six seconds, twice as much as the Model S, although some models may go faster.  It will seat five "comfortably" by compressing the front panel but will maintain the front and rear cargo trunks of the previous models.  The base model will include autopilot hardware.  A single glass panel comprises the roof of the car, giving it a sleek look
A 'new normal' for the EV market
Electric vehicle sales in the United States have reached 420,000 since 2010, far below President Obama's goal of a million.  A limited range and charging infrastructure have so far constrained sales.

About two dozen battery and plug-in electric vehicle models, by Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and other major manufacturers, were sold on the U.S. market last year.  Hyundai Motor Co. recently announced its Ioniq series, including hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid versions.  Most ranges remain under 100 miles.

But that's changing.

General Motors announced its Chevrolet Bolt, which could cost $37,500, with a 200-mile range, in January.  It could roll out later this year.

Tack on a federal tax credit of $7,500 and state incentives, and the Model 3 and the Bolt could sell for less than $30,000.

"Both the announcements by GM and Tesla for their 2017 cars are establishing a new normal for the EV market," said John Boesel, president and CEO of CALSTART, a California-based clean transportation technology industry group that counts both auto manufacturers among its members.

"All other manufacturers, to be competitive, will have to offer similar products," he said.

Read more at Tesla Unveils Its Model 3 for the Masses

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