Tesla has gained a lot of notoriety for its all-electric, fast, and Model S. Its cutting edge technology, for a hefty price, is the luxury car-style we are used to gawking at as desktop backgrounds, reading features in automotive and tech press, and occasionally seeing it pass on the street.
But things are changing for the young automaker. On Wednesday, Tesla unveiled the Model 3, its reasonably-priced sedan targeted at you and me. It's a vehicle years in the making that Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to bring to the masses.
Specifically, the Model 3 will be starting at $35,000 before incentives when it begins shipping in late-2017 -- a stark contrast from the $70,000 starting price of the Model S.
Car for the masses
Musk says "you will not be able to buy a better car for $35,000, even with no options."
There's a 15-inch landscape touchscreen to access information about the car, settings, and launch connected apps. Interestingly, a speedometer in front of the driver is missing and will be on the 15-inch screen which could take some getting used to.
Musk, who shows a lot of passion in the Model 3 project, says the car will fit five adults and that "comfortably is the important part here." Like we, the Model 3 is almost a cross between the Model S and Model X when it comes to design. The windshield spans the roof area, giving passengers a view of the entire sky above them.
The Tesla Model 3 does 0 to 60 MPH in less than six seconds and will have a range of at least 215 miles. The company is showing its base Model 3, but says more features could be coming to pricier versions of the Model 3 in the future, adding more technology and bigger battery packs for extended range.
Not unusual for a Tesla car, the Model 3 will have front and rear trunk spaces for plenty of storage. Tesla brags the cars is "incredibly safe" and is likely to get five star crash test ratings in every category. Like the Model S, the new Tesla car comes both in all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive versions.
Tesla says it plans to expand its supercharger network to 7,200 to lessen range anxiety drivers of all-electric cars experience. Its regular, slower charging network will jump from 3,689 to 15,000.
Every trim level of the Tesla Model 3 will come with Autopilot hardware, which enables Tesla's software feature that automatically steers, changes lanes, avoids obstacles, and auto parks.
The safety features will automatically be turned on every Model 3. However, the "convenience features" that essentially let the car drive itself will be activated after you pay a fee -- like on the Model S and Model X.
It's not clear what the price of the convenience features will be. On the Model S, it's available for $3,000.
The Tesla Model 3 starts at $35,000, with some state tax incentive plans allowing pre-orderers to get the price down even further. According to the law, the incentives are phased out after 200,000 orders are reached.
Musk tweeted on Thursday he expects the price with average option mix to be roughly $42,000.
Tesla is allowing customers to pre-order the Model 3 with $1,000 down and plenty of people are taking advantage of securing their Tesla vehicle before it ships in late-2017. You can pre-order online or at one the few Tesla stores scattered across the country.
Musk says there are roughly 230,000 pre-orders on the Model 3. Many industry watchers have begun wondering how Tesla is going to keep up. Delivery wait times are growing, and Musk tweeted there's a need to "rethink" production planning.
Musk and Co. allowed members for the automotive and tech press to drive the Model 3 at its unveiling on Wednesday.
Tim Stevens at our sister site, CNET, wrote: "I was lucky enough to get a quick ride in a Model 3, sadly from the passenger seat, and the effect of that glass roof is pretty spectacular. Even at night it really opens things up. That center touchscreen is positioned much closer to the driver. In the front you're seated far closer to the front axle than in the Model S, which gives a compelling sense of motion."