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2018 Tesla Model 3 – finally official as deliveries commence

By Tony O'Kane & Cameron Kirby, 29 Jul 2017 News

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Tesla’s first mass-market electric car has begun rolling off the production line and into the hands of customers

REJOICE – the seemingly endless drip-feed of teasers and tweets is over. Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 is now rolling into customer garages, as a slew of official details and images are let loose by the Californian EV specialist.

First unveiled in March last year and detailed only in vague terms, the Model 3 has been the subject of intense speculation up until now. Few brands polarise people as much as Tesla, with the company’s brash CEO Elon Musk either regarded as a mad genius – or just mad – and the company itself has been surprisingly secretive when discussing the Model 3’s specifics, something that has only provoked the rumour mill.

At its unveiling last year, Elon Musk would only say the Model 3 would hit 100km/h in less than six seconds and be able to travel for a maximum of 345km on a single charge. Tesla’s Autopilot suite of autonomous-driving hardware would also be standard-issue, as they are in the Model S and Model X.

Pricing would begin at US$35,000, with Aussie Model 3s expected to lob with a 3-Series rivalling circa-$55k base sticker.

Rear-wheel drive and dual-motor all-wheel drive versions would eventually be offered side-by-side, with a performance-oriented variant in the product plan, but more concrete details weren’t forthcoming. Now, however, we no longer have to wonder and speculate.

There will be two main variants of the Model 3, the first is what we have become familiar with already. It’ll have roughly 345km of range, a sub-6-second 0-60mph (97km/h) time, and cost an estimated circa $55,000 once it lands in Australia.

The second, is a Long Range model. This extends the vehicles range to roughly 500km, with a US$44,000 pricetag. The more expensive variant has a 0-60mph time of sub-5-seconds according to Musk and is capable of 225km/h.

Much like the Model X’s front windshield, the rear window in the Model 3 is significantly larger than a traditional vehicle, stretching above the rear passengers to provide extra headroom.

It was "one of the toughest design challenges of building the Model 3", Musk said.

As for that instrument cluster – it’s located in the centre of the vehicle and there’s no information displayed directly in front of the driver – Musk claims drivers will hardly notice due to the Model 3’s autonomous capabilities.

“You won't have to look at the instrument panel all that often,” he said.

Musk claims the company will be in “hell” at the start of production to meet the car’s not insignificant global demand.

“Welcome to production hell — that's where we're going to be for six months, maybe longer,” he stated.

Despite the information vacuum that’s surrounded the Model 3 until now, the hype generated by the mere prospect of an affordable Tesla compelled thousands of buyers across the world to place a $1500 deposit to secure their place in the production queue. Over 115,000 would-be owners slapped money down before the car was even revealed, and that number has since swollen past the 350,000 mark.

Tesla advises that new orders won’t be delivered until mid-2018 at the earliest, but that estimate only applies to US customers. Right now, a local arrival date for Tesla’s hotly-anticipated electric sedan has yet to be announced, but expect it to be late next year at the earliest.