The Tesla Model 3 is an upcoming all-electric four-door compact luxury sedan produced by Tesla, Inc. It was unveiled on March 31, 2016. Tesla anticipates the Model 3 will deliver an all-electric range of at least 215 miles (346 km), with base model pricing in the US market starting at US$35,000 before any applicable government incentives.
Limited Model 3 production is scheduled to begin in July 2017. Production is planned to ramp up to exceed 5,000 vehicles per week at some point in the fourth quarter, and 10,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2018.
Within a week of the unveiling, company officials said they had taken 325,000 Model 3 reservations, more than triple the number of Model S sedans Tesla had sold by the end of 2015. These reservations represent potential sales of over US$14 billion. As of May 15, 2016, Tesla had taken about 373,000 reservations.
Company officials said the base model of the all-electric car will have a range of at least 215 miles (346 km), will be able to seat five people comfortably, include both front and rear trunks, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 100 km/h) in less than six seconds. The Model 3 is expected to have a drag coefficient of Cd=0.21. This will be lower than the Tesla Model S drag coefficient of Cd=0.24, which in 2014 was the lowest among current production cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the rear-wheel-drive base model would have great traction on ice because of the fast torque response of the electric motor.
During the unveiling ceremony, Tesla announced a price starting at US$35,000 before any applicable government incentives. However, with options, Musk predicted that the average sales price will be closer to US$42,000. First deliveries are expected in the US by late 2017, with full production in 2018. As a result of the high demand for Model 3, in May 2016 Tesla announced its decision to advance its 500,000 total unit build plan (combined for Model S, Model X, and Model 3) to 2018, two years earlier than previously planned, in order to accelerate its target for Model 3 output. Tesla issued US$2 billion in new shares to the stock market to finance the plan.
The Model 3 was codenamed Tesla BlueStar in the original business plan in 2007. The name Model 3, originally stylized as "Model ☰", was announced on Musk's Twitter account on July 16, 2014, however the intended name was Model E that was abandoned due to Ford's trademark on the name; Musk wanted the three current models to spell SEX, but settled with "S3X". In early 2017, after trademark opposition from Adidas, the horizontal bars stylization was abandoned and changed to a numeric "3".
In 2013, design chief Franz von Holzhausen stated that the Model 3 will "be an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability, and performance with a starting price of US$30,000" that is targeted toward the mass-market. While technology from Tesla's Model S will be incorporated into the Model 3, it will be 20% smaller than the Model S and have its own unique design. According to Tesla's CTO, JB Straubel, in October 2015 most Tesla engineers were working on the 3 rather than S or X. Since electric cars have lower cooling needs than combustion cars, the Model 3 does not have a front grille. Musk intended for the final design to be released on June 30, but the design was finished July 27 then it was not publicly released. After the final design of the first Model 3, any further features would be included in future versions of the 3. The glass roof developed by Tesla Glass will be made of the same glass used for roof tiles; a glass roof was introduced on the Model S in late 2016.
In September 2015, Tesla announced that the Model 3 would be unveiled in March 2016. In January 2016, Musk stated that the first official pictures of the car will be revealed at the end of March 2016. Delivery would begin in late 2017 first on the US West Coast and then move eastwards. Potential customers were first able to reserve their spot in the queue at Tesla stores or online on March 31 with a refundable deposit of US$1,000. In February 2016, Tesla indicated that the unveiling would be on March 31, 2016. Employees of Tesla and SpaceX were given early access to Model 3 reservation, and about 10,000 signed up without discount, scheduled to receive the first batch of cars. Current owners of Tesla vehicles will get priority sales after employees but before the general public, as a reward for helping pay for the development of the Model 3. Early production is usually more flawed, and both the Model S and the Model X had several problems at the start of their production, but improved since then.
On the morning of March 31, 2016, tens of thousands of people were reported waiting in lines to place the refundable deposit to reserve a Model 3 for 2017 delivery, even though they had not yet seen the car unveiled. Online reservations were opened at 10:23pm ET, and the Model 3 was unveiled just before midnight ET. During the Model 3 unveil event, it was revealed that over 115,000 people had reserved the Model 3 in less than 24 hours prior to the unveiling event; more cars than Tesla had sold by that time. 24 hours after opening reservations, Tesla had advanced orders for over 180,000 units. Two days later, Tesla reported 232,000 reservations that represent potential sales of over US$11.5 billion.
One week after the unveiling, Tesla reported it had over 325,000 reservations that corresponded to about US$14 billion in potential sales. Musk reported that 5% of reservations correspond to the maximum of two vehicles allowed per customer, "suggesting low levels of speculation", and that 93% of Model 3 reservations are from new buyers who do not currently own a Tesla. Tesla claims "this is the single biggest one-week launch of any product ever", however other product sales may eclipse this in terms of units sold (but not price), as the iPhone 6 sold over 4 million units in 24 hours. According to Bloomberg News and others, "the Model 3's unveiling was unique in the 100-year history of the mass-market automobile." The previous record was the 1955 Citroën DS that had 80,000 deposits during the ten days of the Paris Auto Show, while the Model 3 had 232,000 reservations in two days.
According to Tesla’s global vice-president Robin Ren, China is the second largest market for the Model 3 after the U.S. Tesla reported the number of net reservations totaled about 373,000 as of May 15, 2016, after about 8,000 customer cancellations and about 4,200 reservations canceled by the automaker because these appeared to be duplicates from speculators.
A study of potentially self-driving ridesharing Model 3s indicate that around 30,000 Model 3s could supply 10% of car trips around Austin, Texas at a cost of $0.663 per mile ($0.412/km), equivalent to the price of private ownership, and below that of current ridesourcing.
Tesla, sometime after late 2017, plans to enter the following countries' markets for the first time with the Model 3: India, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, and Ireland.
The company plans for the Model 3 are part of Tesla's three step strategy to start at high price and move progressively towards lower cost, where the battery and electric drivetrain technology would be developed and paid for through sales of the Tesla Roadster and Tesla Model S vehicles. Whereas the Roadster used carbon fiber and the Model S and X use aluminum for the body, the Model 3 is made out of a combination of steel and aluminum, steel being the dominant material. Musk has said that Tesla will need to sell 500,000 cars per year (mostly Model 3) to become profitable. Tesla plans to increase the size of Tesla Factory in Fremont, California to accommodate Model 3 production, viewed as a new and large capability.
Tesla indicated to suppliers that it intended to double earlier announced Model 3 production targets to 100,000 in 2017 and 400,000 in 2018 due to demand, which suppliers and some experts viewed as difficult. In Tesla Factory, paint lines for 500,000 cars were begun in 2015, and some stamping equipment for the Model 3 was operational in August 2016. Tesla acquisition of Grohmann Engineering, a world leader in highly-automated methods of manufacturing, was completed in January 2017. This acquisition launches Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, which will help Tesla innovate manufacturing processes to be used initially in Model 3 production. According to Tesla, the company expects to invest between US$2 billion and US$2.5 billion in capital expenditures ahead of the start of Model 3 production.
After the two Alpha prototypes (silver and black; red is a shell) were shown in April 2016, Tesla finished the design in late July 2016. Tesla ordered parts equivalent to 300 Beta prototypes in August 2016, preparing for development of the assembly line. Once the production line is operational, the factory can make release candidates for testing before actual production begins. Tesla began building Model 3 prototypes in early February 2017 as part of the testing of the vehicle design and manufacturing processes. Tesla reported that initial crash test results have been positive.
In October 2016, Tesla stated its production timeline to be on schedule. Again in February 2017, Tesla reported that vehicle development, supply chain and manufacturing are on track to support volume deliveries of the Model 3 in the second half of 2017. Limited vehicle production is scheduled to begin in July 2017, and volume production by September 2017. Tesla plans to ramp up production to exceed 5,000 vehicles per week at some point in the fourth quarter, and 10,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2018.
The Gigafactory is intended to produce battery packs for Model 3, but it was announced at the Nevada State of the State Address in January 2017 that Tesla will also manufacture drive units at the Gigafactory. In February 2017, Tesla reported that installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment is underway in the Fremont factory and at Gigafactory 1, where in January, production of battery cells for energy storage products began, which have the same form-factor as the cells that will be used in Model 3.
Tesla expects to start first customer deliveries in the second half of 2017. Due to the waiting list, new customers ordering a Model 3 in May 2016 could receive it by late 2018. Any new reservations made will be delivered in 2018 or later as production ramps up at Tesla up to 500,000 cars per year.
The first Model 3 cars will be rear-wheel drive, while the all-wheel-drive versions will come at least six months after launch. The performance version of the Model 3 will come no earlier than April 2018.
The base model is expected to have:Minimum 215 mi (346 km) range (EPA-rated)
Estimated measurements L × W × H 4,676 mm (184.1 in) × 1,885 mm (74.2 in) × 1,435 mm (56.5 in), wheelbase 2,870 mm (113 in)
Full self-driving hardware, used for active safety features
Rear wheel drive
Sub-six-second 0–60 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration time
Expected drag coefficient of Cd=0.21
Front and rear trunks
Single center mounted 15-inch (380 mm) LCD console display in landscape orientation that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment information.
Different "steering controls and system" than seen in the unveiled prototypes, that "feels like a spaceship"
Rear roof area is one continuous piece of glass
Worldwide electrical voltage and amperage charging compatibility
Supercharging capability with 400 kWh (about 1,000 mi or 1,600 km) of supercharging credits per year
Optional features:Dual motor all-wheel drive
300+ mile range with a 75 kWh battery pack
Performance versions with shorter 0–60 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration times
Enhanced Autopilot convenience features, and eventually full self-driving capability
Center roof panel options: standard metal, glass, sunroof, and probably solar
Vegan friendly (non-leather) interior
Active air suspension
Robert Cumberford, a widely known car design critic, says the Model 3 "is an excellent design" and praised the front fascia skin that he thinks is superior to the painted surrogate grille of the pre-refresh Model S.