Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t announce models in the usual fashion.
It trickles out bits and pieces of information, often in the form of tweets from CEO Elon Musk, punctuated by occasional large flashy debut events for owners and investors at which a vehicle is revealed.
That’s the pattern followed by the upcoming Tesla Model 3, which the company says will go into production during the second half of this year.
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To date, no specifications beyond a range (215 miles) and a base price ($35,000 before incentives) are known about the Model 3, though not for lack of speculation.
Now, however, the company has dribbled out a few additional details, first seen in a post on the Tesla Motors Club forum, in the form of an infographic with talking points that compare the existing Model S to the upcoming, smaller Model 3 for use by its store staff.
The goal, presumably, is to convert some shoppers who are interested in the cheaper car—”deliveries for Model 3 orders placed today are not expected until mid 2018,” the chart notes—into Model S buyers, since that car can be delivered in “30 days or less.”
Tesla Model 3 design prototype – reveal event – March 2016
This is a theme the company has stressed recently, including in an April 6 blog post in which it noted, “Model 3 is smaller, simpler, and will come with far fewer options than Model S, but it makes driving feel effortless and offers a good range of at least 215 miles for our starting model.”
The larger, faster, better-equipped car will cost buyers $70,000 or more, of course.
So new information did it release on the Model 3? Two items: acceleration and trunk volume.
Its 0-to-60-mph acceleration time will be 5.6 seconds, the chart suggests, against times “as quick as 2.3 seconds” for the Model S P100D in Ludicrous mode.
There’s no battery capacity or model information associated with that figure, so we don’t know if it’s a base Model 3 or a higher-spec version.
The Model 3’s range is given as “215+ miles,” which we’d known, against combined EPA ratings of 249 to 335 miles for various versions of the Model S.
The other new statistic is cargo capacity: the Model 3 will have 14 cubic feet of volume between its front and rear trunks—less volume between the two than in compact sedans from some other premium brands.
The BMW 330e plug-in hybrid, for example, measures 13 cubic feet, while a conventional gasoline 3-Series offers 17 cubic feet.
A series of tweets by Musk in late March similarly downplayed the Model 3’s capabilities, countering some buyers’ apparent belief that Model 3 would be not only cheaper than the Model S, but also faster, more capable, and better-equipped.
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In a quarterly earnings call held May 3, Tesla CEO Musk expressed confidence that the company’s previous projections for Model 3 production ramp-up and volumes would be achieved.
Asked by a financial analyst from Deutsche Bank about the “most critical outstanding items are that are going to gate the commercial launch timing” and any changes now that test vehicles are on the road, Musk replied:
Well, actually it seems to be we’re not really seeing any significant change that needs to occur with Model 3. It’s coming in as expected as the design continuation has predicted. It’s been pretty close to the bullseye and I’m not aware of anything that would affect our prior statement to that volume target.
Tesla has previously projected that it will deliver 200,000 cars this year—presumably about half of them Model 3s—and 500,000 cars in 2018, the bulk of them Model 3s.
Its last statement on reservations received for the Model 3 came last August, when it said the number was 365,000.
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