LIVE BLOG: Tesla Launches The Model 3

LIVE BLOG: Tesla Launches The Model 3

Join us as Tesla introduces its mass-market electric car to the world. The Model 3 is designed to be an electric car for everyone, with an affordable starting price tag and a compelling set of vital statistics. Will it impress? Jump in here and find out.

Update, 2:30PM: Thanks for tuning in, everyone! Jump straight to the bottom for an abridged version of what we learned today.

1:30PM: Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a relaxing Saturday afternoon.

Starting at 1:45PM — or a few minutes later, going on Tesla’s infamously flexible schedules both for its reveal events and for its production timelines —

What do we already know about the Model 3? Well, we know a few key things from when it was initially unveiled in April last year. Here’s a rough approximation of what we already know:

  • The shape and size of the Model 3 — around 80 per cent of the Model S
  • The starting US price tag of the car — around $US35,000
  • Its rough range figures — 215 miles from the base model, around 350km
  • Basic performance specs — 0-100km/h in under six seconds, even the base model
  • The number of pre-orders taken — 373,000, a solid $373 million in Tesla’s pockets in pre-order deposits alone
  • The fact that the Model 3 will have the capability for self-driving or autonomous driving

If you’re looking for something to read to pass the time and build a bit of hype, this WIRED article is a great introduction to the Model 3 and its potential to be The Next Big Thing — like the iPhone turned out to be in 2007.

What we’re looking for from today’s event, even though it might be a bit optimistic:

  • An Australian starting price tag, and the maximum price of a specced-up Model 3
  • A rough date for deliveries of right-hand drive Australian vehicles to start
  • More information on different trim levels, electric motor options, and battery sizes
  • More information on the car’s missing instrument cluster — and air conditioning
  • Pretty much anything else

Until things get under way, you can watch the video up the top for an intro to the Model 3.

Got any more ideas? Got any questions we can answer quickly before things kick off? Leave a comment below. We’ll be updating this page as the live blog goes on and more information is revealed, so remember to keep hitting that refresh button.

1:35PM: Here’s Tesla’s live stream. There’s a huge line of employees heading into Tesla’s event at its Fremont plant in California.

Here’s the cars that are waiting to go to the first 30 lucky employees. There are a lot of keen people waiting for kick-off, just like us.

1:40PM: “Very few guests” outside of Tesla’s own employees are at the event, apparently. The first 30 pre-order holders are likely to all be employees, which makes sense — and Tesla has in the past been especially careful not to prioritise or give special incentive to its employees over any other customer. We’d say they deserve it this time.

1:42PM: In case you were wondering, Tesla hasn’t switched on its live stream video just yet. Stay tuned. The live stream page says “sign up to watch and reserve”, but even doing that doesn’t yield any results.

1:45PM: OK, so we’re up and running. We can’t embed the live stream just yet, but we’re trying.

At the event, we’re hearing from a few Tesla designers talking about the interior and exterior and industrial design of Tesla’s cars.

“The best safety, performance and comfort features” are the underpinning of all Teslas, they’re saying — as well as the world’s fastest ever 0-60mph time at 2.5 seconds flat for the Model S P100D.

1:53PM: While we’ve been sorting out the live stream — and no luck there, you’ll have to enter your email address and tune in on Tesla’s website — Tesla’s been taking viewers around the Gigafactory and talking a little more about the Model 3.

We also just saw Tesla’s top three entries for its Project Loveday user-submitted ad competition. The winner was Marques Brownlee, the famous tech YouTuber also known as MKBHD.

2:00PM: OK, so, that’s the ‘pre-event’ webcast over, apparently, and now a short break before Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk takes the stage to hand over the new Model 3 to the first 30 pre-order holders and to introduce more about the car to the world at large.

2:05PM: Tesla boss Elon Musk is on stage — he’s just driven up in a red Model 3. “Hey everyone”, he says.

“We agonise over every curve, every corner, every detail — including things that people wouldn’t even notice.”

Musk has just said that the cars will be increasingly autonomous — “you won’t have to look at the instrument panel all that often.”

All cars being produced right now by Tesla have the hardware necessary for full autonomy.

2:10PM: The rear glass of the Model 3 stretches over the top of the rear seats to give them significantly more headroom — “one of the toughest design challenges of building the Model 3”, according to Elon.

The big challenge will be pumping out Model 3s consistently to meet demand. “Welcome to production hell — that’s where we’re going to be for six months, maybe longer.” But the staff in front of Tesla are “veterans”, he says — and “if you’re going through hell, keep going”.

“We’re building the cars as fast as we can, we’re building the ramp as fast as we can.”

There are 10,000 unique parts in the Model 3, coming from all over the world — around two thirds from the US, one third from elsewhere.

LIVE BLOG: Tesla Launches The Model 3

The production, Elon says, can move as fast as the slowest-moving component. Huh.

2:15PM: Tesla has an initial target of 5000 cars a week, and then ramping to 10,000 cars a week by next year.

By the end of next year, there will be three times as many Superchargers as there are today.

2:17PM: Here we go: there’ll be two main variants of Model 3 — the car we’ve been teased before with 215 miles of range for $US35,000, a sub-6-second 0-60mph. There’ll also be a Long Range model with 310 miles range for US$44,000, sub-5-second 0-60mph, and 140mph top speed.

2:18PM: Tesla is now handing over the keys to the first 30 cars to the lucky pre-order holders.

20 more cars produced this month will be used for engineering evaluation.

“We’re doing everything we can to get you your cars as soon as possible,” Tesla says to the 500,000-odd people who have pre-ordered the car.

2:20PM: “If you order a Model 3 now, you’ll probably get one towards the end of next year.” But if you order a Model S or X now, already in production, you’ll get one in a couple of months.

2:21PM: With a final thankyou, Elon walks off the stage. Well, that was a short event, with very little new info — though we did learn about the Long Range variant, although no more technical details on it.

I had somewhere to be at 2:30PM that I thought I might have to cancel to keep this live blog ticking, but chances are I can still make it…

From Tesla’s Twitter, here’s a look inside the Model 3:

And here’s some of the work that goes into making a Model 3:

Here’s What We Learned

There will be two main variants of the Model 3:

A Standard version with a $US35,000 starting price. Expect 350km (220mi) of range from the battery, a sub 6-second 0-100km/h (5.8sec 0-60mph) acceleration speed, and a 210km/h (130mph) top speed.

A Long Range version with a $US44,000 starting price. Expect 500km (310mi) of range from the battery, a near 5-second 0-100km/h (5.1sec 0-60mph) acceleration speed, and a 225km/h (140mph) top speed.

Those prices translate directly to $44,000 and $55,000 in Australia. We’d conservatively estimate starting Australian prices, which take into account the cost of shipping and localising the car for Australia, to be around $50,000 and $60,000 landed.

While the Model 3 won’t have the extensive options list of the Model S or Model X, expect different trim levels, some interior features, optional Autopilot and performance variants to drive potential price tags up. I’d expect a fully specced-out Model 3 to cost $90,000 to $100,000.

Tesla is aiming to produce 5000 cars a week in 2017 and ramp up to 10,000 cars a week by 2018. 500,000 people have pre-ordered; if you order now, you won’t have your delivery at least until the end of 2018.

Thanks for tuning in, folks!

LIVE BLOG: Tesla Launches The Model 3