On March 31st, Tesla finally took the wraps off its first truly affordable offering, the Model 3. It could very well be the most important vehicle in the electric carmaker's lineup—mostly because, at a promised sticker price of $35,000, it'll be the only Tesla most regular car buyers can afford. Ahead of the official unveiling (which we'll be covering live), here's everything we know about the first affordable Tesla.
It'll Cost $35,000 Before Any Electric-Car Tax Incentives
Price is the most important aspect of the Model 3. Ever since Tesla first confirmed the midsize Model 3 way back in July of 2014, the automaker has been heavily emphasizing that $35,000 starting price. Perhaps more importantly, CEO Elon Musk says that's the price before any federal or state tax incentives for zero-emissions vehicles. That's a direct shot at the Chevy Bolt, GM's first mass-market all-electric vehicle. GM CEO Mary Barra says the Bolt will ring in under $30,000—after about $7500 in federal rebates. Of course, Tesla is steadily nearing its federal tax incentive sales cap—once the automaker has sold its 200,000th car in the U.S., those incentives disappear.
It'll Come in Sedan and Crossover Variants . . . Eventually
Last summer, Tesla's Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel remarked that the Model 3 would be a family of new vehicles, eventually spawning both a sedan and a crossover version. With crossoveres dominating the U.S. car market, that's a smart move—a $35,000 electric crossover will have much broader appeal than, say, Tesla's be-winged Model X, which starts at double that price and can be further doubled depending on options. According to a swiftly-deleted tweet from Musk, the crossover could be called the Model Y—making Tesla's full lineup (groan) S, 3, X, Y—and it could even have those crazy "falconwing" doors.
But we still don't know whether we'll see a crossover variant at the official unveiling on March 31st. Regarding the debut event, Musk said last month, "we are not gonna show everything about the Model 3 until a lot closer to production time."
It'll Have a Promised 200-Mile Range, and Maybe Lots More
The EPA rates the highest-range Model S, the all-wheel-drive 90D, at 270 miles of range, but Tesla says the Model 3 will shoot for an even 200 miles. The lower range is most likely a move to keep costs down—bigger batteries cost more to build—though it may also be a factor of the Model 3's smaller platform size. Here again, we see some even-matched competition with the 2017 Chevy Bolt, which also claims a 200-mile battery range.
And if you're up for an upgrade, a last-minute report says an optional 80kWh battery will push range past 300 miles.
Fans Think There Might Be a High-Performance Version With Ludicrous Mode
Fair warning, we're getting into the murky mire of Tesla superfans here, but: The folks on the of people who are camping out, reserving their place in line to put in some of the first Model 3 preorders. If you scroll down the list, you'll see a lot of first-in-line-ers have their hopes on a dual-motor all-wheel-drive Model 3 with the high-performance P prefix. Model 3 P80D with Ludicrous Mode? We have no idea if it will actually happen, now or ever. But it would be rad, and it would definitely bolster Tesla's hopes of competing with cars like the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, both of which have very serious performance versions.
That hunch was seemingly confirmed by a leak from an unnamed Tesla insider, who claims that a version of the Model 3 will do 0-60 in under four seconds. Sure sounds like an all-wheel-drive, dual-motor variant to us.
The best news? Musk confirmed that the Model 3 will have Ludicrous Mode in a tweet, his favorite way to confirm news. Here'show they could put Ludicrous Mode in the car.
Supercharging will not be free
Supercharging, Tesla's free service for owners of the Model S and Model X, will not be free for all owners of the Model 3. The $35,000 Model 3 will require owners to buy an option package that unlocks Supercharging. Musk says that it will cost less than the equivalent need for gasoline, but that it also won't be free.
The design was just finalized
The prototype that we saw in March is not the final design. Musk said that it needed six more weeks of design tweaks before it was finalized. Those tweaks were just completed, so the Model 3 is now finalized. Have we seen the final design? No. Do we expect that it's vastly different than the car we took a ride in? Not really, but you never know with Tesla.
Tesla Wants to Sell a whole Bunch of 'Em
If it sounds like Tesla's making a very mainstream-friendly car here, you're not wrong. Tesla wants to sell as many of these things as it can. Musk has said he wants the automaker to sell 500,000 cars annually by the year 2020, and an affordable sedan and crossover are a major part of that plan. Given that Tesla has sold fewer than 200,000 cars since 2008, that's a big potential ramp-up.
They have a ton of reservations
That whole goal of selling a bunch of cars seems to be off to a good start. for the car, which were made in the form of $1,000 deposits. That qualifies as a "whole bunch," we think.
If You Want One of the First Model 3s, You Have to Live in California or Already Own a Tesla
Tesla stores will begin accepting in-person reservations as soon as they open on March 31st; online reservations open up at 8:30PM Pacific Time that day. People are at Tesla stores worldwide. Priority for Model 3 reservations will be given to current Tesla owners, the same way Ferrari does.
We took a ride in an AWD performance version of the Model 3 .This is a fast car.
Tesla is testing them in public
Deliveries Are supposed to Begin in 2017, but might not.
Well, assuming there aren't any delays. Tesla has of with . The Model 3 will be another experience with delays. In an earnings call, Musk has stated that the company will not be able to achieve full, volume production by July 2017. That means the cars will be rolling off the production line later than hoped, and could delay all but the very first orders.
This post was originally published in March before the Model 3 was unveiled and has been updated with current info on the progress of the Model 3.