Why Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 should finally make electric cars a real transport alternative in 2017

Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has said that the highly anticipated Model 3 electric car should be revealed in 2016, with a launch in 2017.

Why Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 should finally make electric cars a real transport alternative in 2017

“I mean, we are hoping to show off the Model 3 in approximately March of next year”, said Musk during the Tesla Earnings conference call on Wednesday. “Again, like, don’t hold me to that month, but that’s, like — that’s our aspiration”.

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Anticipation around Tesla’s new car is high because it really could be the driving force behind an affordable electric car revolution. Priced at just $35,000 (~£22,700) before tax incentives are factored in, the Model 3 would be a stylish sub £20,000 electric car.

For comparison’s sake, that places it in the same ballpark as a Seat Leon, Audi A3, Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Golf. Add in the benefits of reduced fuel costs, larger storage capacity and roomier cockpit thanks to a removal of the combustion engine, the Model 3 is an enticing prospect.

Mileage is also not really an issue for many UK drivers. While 300 miles on a single charge is limiting for US or mainland EU drivers, there are only a handful of times UK drivers would be needing to worry about making a 300 mile journey in a single day, where charging facilities wouldn’t be available.

Before we get caught up in what 2017 could bring for electric cars, it’s worth remembering that Tesla has a reputation for missing its release windows. Despite Musk presenting a rather liberal window of an entire year for the Model 3, Tesla’s previous new car – the Model X – is only just coming to market now, two years after its intended release date.

Despite a potential delay, the fact that the Model 3 is on the way at all is an incredibly enticing prospect for those sitting on the fence about electric cars.

Tesla may have set the electric car market alight – or essentially built it from the ground up – but it hasn’t been able to make a commercial dent in the automotive industry doing so. The Model 3 should be the success story they need to really shape the industry in a similar way to Toyota’s affordable Prius model.

Tesla has also had marginal success in the UK. While that’s more speculation on my part than hard-fact, it’s clear that the limited number of dealerships and the compromises drivers have to make when buying a premium vehicle have made it a hard sell. The cheapest Tesla, the Model S 70D, still costs over £55,000. If the, so far unseen, Model 3 can deliver the same level of premium quality, alongside decent battery life and present it in a package costing £30,000 less, it’s hard to believe Tesla hasn’t found the key to unlocking the UK market.

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