What to Expect From the Tesla Model 3 When it Launches.

The Tesla Model 3 is launching soon, and here is what we think you can expect!

Aaron Zhou has graciously agreed to share his thoughts on the Tesla Model 3 with Solar Consultant. He has a Masters in Management from London Business School, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Management at the Queen’s School of Business. He has two years of work experience with Diamond Management & Technology Consultants and PwC Consulting practice’s Corporate Strategy team. Main image credit: www.digitaltrends.com.

As a Tesla enthusiast and investor since they became public in 2010, I’m definitely well within all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Model 3 launch on March 31st. Hence, I thought it would be fun to place my bets on what we’ll see next Thursday night with the following predictions. After all, I seemed to have been the only one to have called Tesla building two variants on their upcoming third platform (sedan + CUV), which would basically be the same as Mr Passin’s (VP in Manufacturing at Tesla) past experience with the Corolla-Matrix North Assembly line at Toyota. So here goes:

Battery and range:
I expect Tesla to introduce 2 configurations. The first would be an entry level 50-60KWH battery that could drive around 250 miles per charge. Given the 20% size reduction from the Model S and a comparable and possibly better drag coefficient at 0.24, I’d expect the range to fall around 250, which would also likely blow the Chevy Bolt out of the water. The other battery would be a 70-75KWH version, which would get up to 300 miles. Again, I estimate this based on size, weight and drag predictions relative to the Model S. 300 is also a plausible number because of the recent report about a hacker, who found the codename P100D hidden inside his Model S. If this turns out to be true, the new range of the Model S would also likely hit the magic 300. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Elon announce both the 300 mile range for Model S as well as Model 3 on the same night.

Here, I’d expect the typical Musk philosophy of pushing the limits to the point where it’s “just wrong”, as he said of the Model X. Single (FWD) motor would go 0-60 MPH in about 5 seconds, while dual motor would go 0-60 MPH in about 4 seconds. Add on Ludicrous Mode and you’ll be generating 1.1Gs with 0-60 MPH in about 3 seconds. Tesla would probably also include an Insane Mode that falls in between these crazy numbers, but who really notices that these days when you have Ludicrous, right?

Based on the positive reviews about the panoramic front windshield on the Model X, I’d expect Tesla to incorporate some sort of smaller equivalent onto the Model 3. I’d also expect an option for the HEPA air filter and “bio-weapon defence mode” that will undoubtedly attract the Chinese middle class in the near future. The Model 3 may not have the iconic 17″ touchscreen like the Model S and X since the car is a completely new design, built from the ground up, but I’d expect something similar. Perhaps a 15″ or an array of multiple screens is in the works, which would make the traditional automakers kick themselves for not bringing their concept equivalents into future production models *cough BMV, Audi, Mercedes*. I’d also expect some sort of wireless connection not only to stay in line with the Bolt’s promise, but also because the Model 3 will obviously form an integral part of Tesla’s autonomous and fleet learning capabilities.

I can’t imagine Tesla giving away free supercharging for life for its mass market car. Having this as a $1000 option would be attractive from a financial standpoint but also from a service standpoint since the supercharger network will probably experience early congestion if a whole bunch of Model 3s start showing up next year and in 2018. However, Tesla will likely offer free lifetime supercharging for its top of the line version of its Model 3 (P75D?). The autopilot capabilities will also likely come as an option while lane-keeping, emergency braking and blind spot detection will be standard, which is in line with upcoming regulatory changes. Much of this news may become official later, closer to customer configuration and deposit lock-in time. Also, I’m looking forward to at least one nice surprise announcement from Elon. Home snake chargers, anyone?

Sales, orders and hype:
Placing the store orders a day before online orders was a brilliant idea from a marketing strategy point of view. After reviewing social media chatter, forum and analyst notes, I expect Apple iPhone launch-esk lines at several Tesla Stores on Thursday. The motive is not only because of the hype but also because, given that Tesla hits its 80-90k delivery target this year, only a few Model 3 early adopters would qualify for US federal EV incentives before Tesla goes past its 200,000 vehicle allocation. Expect huge news coverage and social media hype Thursday afternoon at major cities! Order totals? Several tens of thousands at least by end of April! I wouldn’t even be surprised if Tesla gets overwhelmed with over 100k by the end of this year. Hence, the case for a second factory, possibly in China by 2018. Obviously, all of this depends on the quality of the actual vehicle design but assuming it is at least as impressive as the Chevy Bolt and has some of the performance features described above, and of course, it’s a Tesla, I’d say it’s looking pretty likely that the launch will be a resounding success.

So there you have it. My fingers are crossed. Looking forward to the March 31st unveil.

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