As many Model 3 preorders have already come in as the number of 3 Series that BMW sold in 2014.
With a bevy of energy and a tinge of South African accent, Elon Musk touched off the new electric car revolution at the Tesla Model 3 reveal. This car is incredible, so lets get right to it. Like the Model S and X, the Model 3 will have five-star crash ratings in every category. It needs this sort of safety because even the lowest tier of the Model S will be able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds. According to Musk, some versions will be "much faster," although no specific numbers were given.
As for range, the Model 3 has an EPA rated range of 215 miles, although Musk also said that this was the minimum figure that could be topped by higher trims. On the aesthetic front, things get interesting. While frontal angles of the Model 3 remind us a tad of the Porsche Panamera, the car itself looks distinguishably Tesla. In fact, it may as well be a Model S with the roofline of a Model X, which was then left in the drier a tad too long. In case you're worried that autonomous cars will soon invade, now is the time to start heading into the bunker because every Model 3 will come standard with autopilot hardware. The software itself will be an extra, but all of the safety features such as collision prevention will be standard on all Model 3s.
This is good because apparently the Model 3 will be able to seat five adults comfortably. The extra room comes by moving the front seats forward and compressing the dashboard into the odd minimalist shape we see here. The cabin will feel roomy because the roof will be made entirely out of glass. Side note: this reminds us of the Jetson-esque self-driving pods of the future. A large trunk and a "frunk" where an engine normally lies will ensure that the Model 3 will have more cargo capacity than any car in its class. This, combined with the fact that the capability to use Tesla's Supercharging network (set to double in size by the end of next year) will come standard means that long road trips are a possibility.
How do you get behind the wheel of one of these futuristic cars? Plunk down $35,000 and wait at least a year. Musk said he was pretty confident about the time frame for deliveries. However, it seems like he has his work cut out for him after he dropped the most impressive fact of the night: 115,000 Models 3 orders have already been placed.
This absurd number should do more than just give the underdog automaker a stock boost. It should put Mercedes, Audi, and BMW on edge. After all, that's nearly as many 3 and 4 Series that BMW sold in the US during all of 2014. The company that was once the little startup with big dreams is now a serious contender in the global auto market. It will be very interesting to see how its future shapes up.