Tesla's Model 3 is being introduced to the world today. Before we learn everything for sure, though, let's make some early predictions. Here are our best guesses, gleaned from a couple of years of rumours and strategic leaks and unguarded Elon Musk tweets.
It'll have over 320km (200mi) of all-electric range. 200 miles, or 320 kilometres, has been widely bandied around as the minimum practical range for an electric car in 2016, with a complementary network of fast-charging stations like Tesla's Superchargers. The top-spec Model 3, with a larger battery pack, is likely to have a 500km-plus (300mi) range on a full charge. Note: these figures are expected to be quoted using the United States' EPA mileage calculation, which is harsher than the NEDC of Europe and Australia's own calculations. Range changes with speed, level of charge, and weather conditions.
It'll cost approximately US$35,000. That price is almost certainly for a basic entry-level Model 3 before any state- or country-based clean energy incentives, and battery and electric motor upgrades, as well as interior and exterior design tweaks and technology packages, will likely be able to push the Model 3's price north of US$60,000. In Australia, we expect the price — after currency conversion, international shipping, local delivery, stamp duty, tax and a bevy of other necessary charges to start at approximately $60,000 and spike above $100,000. Got a better guess? Let us know in the comments.
It'll be around 25 per cent smaller than the Model S. The Tesla Model S is a large four-door sedan — 4976mm long and 1963mm wide, with a 2959mm wheelbase. In a November 2014 earnings call with investors, Musk said the Model 3 would be 20 to 25 per cent smaller than Model S. At roughly 4000mm long and 1600mm wide, the 3 would be smaller than BMW's 3 Series. It'll likely be significantly lighter than the 2200kg-plus Model S, too, although cars are becoming increasingly heavy with onboard safety equipment and technology. Expect a four-door sedan or hatchback.
It'll use batteries from the Gigafactory in Nevada. The Model 3 is Tesla's first properly mass-market, large-volume vehicle — Tesla wants to sell 500,000 a year. That's 10 times as many Model S and Model X combined produced in 2015, and that will require Tesla to not only increase its factory space and production speed but also use the Gigafactory — a $5 billion venture with Panasonic — to produce the massive number of battery cells required for the Model 3 and Powerwall. How big will its battery be? At least 70kWh, reports suggest, although Tesla is working on a 100kWh battery pack.
We won't learn everything about the Model 3 this afternoon. Today's event is, according to Elon Musk, only "part one" of a two-part announcement. Infer from that what you will, but we'll likely see the body and vital statistics of the Model 3 today, while a full software suite — specifically autopilot and self-driving capabilities, we're guessing — will be revealed closer to the launch. Don't expect to miss out on anything massive this afternoon, but you won't know everything there is to know in the next couple of hours.