TESLA will launch its highly anticipated Model 3 mid-size sedan in the US this Friday, years after it was first talked about and more than twelve months since it was publically revealed.
The American manufacturer has a lot riding on the car dubbed the EV for the people, with pre-orders claimed to be in excess of 300,000 globally.
Pre-production models have been spied and other images and video leaked during the Model 3s lengthy gestation, but the real thing has begun rolling off the Californian production line, meaning finished Model 3s are about to be delivered to customers.
Ahead of its launch, here’s everything we know about Tesla’s most affordable electric sedan, so far.
Less is more: Spy shots and video footage have given us a clear look inside the Model 3 cabin. To say it is minimalist seems an understatement. There is nothing but a steering wheel between the driver and the windshield. The dash lacks any adornments, save a central tablet, which it’s reported will provide all necessary information to both driver and passenger. There appears to be no driver instrument cluster or head-up display. How this operates in the real world will be one of the Model 3’s biggest tests.
Australian pricing remains secret: While American customers should plan to pay around US$35,000 ($A45,000) for a Model 3 before options, pricing for Australia remains a secret. A figure of approximately A$60,000 is expected once local taxes are included, though Tesla Australia was unable to give Wheels a guide, pointing towards moving exchange rates and other outside factors.
The Great Australian Wait: Wheels believes Australians that have pre-ordered the Model 3 will be in for quite a wait, with local deliveries not expected until the second half of 2018.
Slow start: Elon Musk tweeted earlier in the month about a handover party for the first 30 Tesla Model 3 customers that’s pencilled in for July 28 (Friday). He expanded on that saying production will ramp up “exponentially” afterwards, with just 100 cars expected to be delivered in August, followed by more than 1500 in September. At full tilt, Tesla predicts it will produce in excess of 5,000 units per week by the end of 2017, and more than 10,000 every seven days in 2018.
There will be a vegan option: Yes, really. Mr Musk said so himself on Twitter.
Limited options: Musk is on the record saying just one engine option will be available for the Model 3 at the start of production, with dual-motor examples up and running at the end of 2017 “or more likely early next year.”
Keeping it simple: A Model 3 vehicle configurator is set to go live at the end of July, but customers logging on won’t have much to choose from. "We have kept the initial configurations for Model 3 very simple,” Musk said at a shareholder meeting in June.
“This is critical to achieving a rapid production ramp … so initially it’s kind of going to be, what colour do you want and what size of wheels do you want. That’s basically going to be the configurator."
Charge the world: Musk has said the electric vehicle manufacturer is going to continue to expand its supercharger network. Handy, since the Model 3 is expected to have a range of roughly 340km, or around half that of a Model S P100D.
"This year we will double the number of Tesla superchargers in the world. So double year-over-year. And I think next year, probably at least 50% increase, maybe double again next year,” Musk said.
But what about Australia? It remains to be seen how far local infrastructure will expand before the arrival of the Model 3. Tesla has been making moves, but as it currently stands electric vehicle owners aren’t rich with options, partly due to lacking government support.