The first 30 have been delivered, but Musk wants to put 500,000 on the road by next year.
It was more than a year ago in April that the ink had just dried on news of the official Model 3 unveiling and now, 15 months later, Elon Musk is handing the hotel room card-like Model 3 keys to the first 30 Tesla employees who bought one. Despite its simplicity, an inbuilt feature designed to both speed up production and do away with the maladies the company suffered from the overly complex Model X, there seems to be no waning in demand. In fact, it's on the increase.
A grinning Musk calmly but proudly announced that preorder numbers had grown to half a million since the car’s initial release, which also happens to be the magic number of Model 3s Tesla is hoping to churn out of its Fremont, California production facility by next year. “We’re going to do everything we can to make cars as fast we can,” said CEO Elon Musk. “Demand is not the challenge here.” While ramping up production of quality cars is not a problem for mainstream manufacturers with electric cars in their lineups, such as Chevy and its Bolt, Tesla has a literal and metaphorical mountain to climb. What it does have over Chevy and its other competitors, though, is the public’s attention.
So what of the entry-level electric car that’s supposed to change the landscape of American roads? There’s not much we don’t know about it already. The first units will be the simplest, starting at $35,000 and coming in rear-wheel drive configuration with a battery that offers 220 miles per charge. Acceleration from 0-60 mph in this model clocks in at 5.6 seconds, but power lovers too impatient to wait for an all-wheel drive Model 3, which will come out between September and November of 2018, can opt for the $44,000 example with 310 miles per charge, the same rear-wheel drive configuration, and a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds. No mention on whether or not a Ludicrous Mode will be offered.
As previous images have made apparent, the Model 3’s exterior will resemble that of a Model S, only smaller and with a regular trunk in place of a rear hatch. Aside from the open panoramic roof, the interior will remain spartan as ever with the central touchscreen being the only source of input and data output. Aside from a lever on the right hand side of the steering wheel that serves as the drive selector (featuring Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Autopilot modes), the touch screen is responsible for controlling everything—from mirror adjustments to climate control—and also stands in as the singular source of driving information, displaying everything from vehicle speed to the status of Autopilot.
While the Model 3 comes loaded with Autopilot hardware as standard, switching it on is another matter. Doing so will set a customer back $5,000, and once an over-the-air update offering full autonomy is ready, activating it will require shelling out an additional $3,000. If the product ends up being of the same quality we’ve come to expect from Tesla, we doubt Musk will have a hard time convincing the public to to pony up. Ever since Tesla first started offering Model 3 preorders, the ball has been in Tesla's court. With the first deliveries having taken place, Tesla now has the pleasure of undergoing the arduous process of ramping up production. At least that panoramic roof can let us keep an eye on Musk's ambitions.