In Depth

Tesla Model 3: referral codes, prices, range, reviews and UK release

Elon Musk hints that the budget EV’s arrival in Europe isn’t far off

Tesla Model 3: Will BMW rival the electric car?

19 July

Tesla's upcoming Model 3 has been quite a hype machine, with around 400,000 pre-order deposits taken since its reveal in late March.

Elon Musk's company is promising buyers an all-electric car with a 215 mile-range minimum, high performance with sub 0-62mph times  and, at an extra cost, self-driving features plus access to its Supercharger stations, one of the best and most expansive quick-charging networks.

Importantly, it's a Tesla starting from £30,000 – the cheapest car the company has made and presenting the first opportunity for many of its fans to buy one.

First deliveries are not scheduled until the end of 2017 at the earliest – with many customers set to wait into 2018 and beyond – leading some to speculate on what the automotive landscape could look like by then.

One of the new kids on the block, Auto Express reports, will be the BMW 3 Series which is due to arrive in 2018 and will come with the option of a fully-electric powertrain, the eDrive, to rival the Model 3.

The range will also be available with plug-in hybrid powertrains and sit on an all new platform utilising carbon fibre construction techniques called CLAR - Cluster Architecture - which will make the car significantly lighter, ideal for a weighty electric powertrain.

The electric powertrain is said to use a 90kWh battery pack, which could potentially give it an all-electric range of around 300 miles.

That would beat the Model 3's 215 miles minimum, although that is for the entry level car with what's rumoured to be a sub-60kWh battery. More powerful versions with bigger batteries will be an option.

In addition, the eDrive might not launch until 2020, by which time the Model 3 should have been out long enough to warrant upgrades with denser battery packs.

At the moment, there's not enough information as to whether the rumoured electric 3 Series will dent Model 3 sales and vice versa, says investment website Motley Fool. Tesla's head start gives it the early advantage, but the eDrive will come from a respected automotive giant and is sure to be appealing to drive.

It could come down to cost. Many petrol and diesel versions of the 3 Series will be more or less on par with the £30,000 price tag of the Model 3, while the electric car could be priced high up the range. In addition, it may be built in limited numbers, meaning the Tesla would still be the cheapest route into premium electric motoring.


Tesla Model 3: Design tweak adds to practicality

12 July

Pencils will be downed for the Tesla Model 3's design in just a matter of days and chief executive Elon Musk has already taken to Twitter to share an important change.

The Model 3 was introduced as a pre-production prototype at "part one" of the car's reveal in late March. A fully production-ready version is yet to be seen – the company is saving that for "part two".

While the car we've already seen should closely resemble what Tesla launches towards the end of next year, slight tweaks have been anticipated. It should certainly be more practical, thanks to a nip and tuck around the back.

According to Electrek, potential customers been concerned about the size of the boot – March's car boasted only a tiny chute, potentially hampering its practicality.

However, Musk has confirmed on Twitter that it has been "taken care of".

The Model 3 uses a large, extending glass roof sweeping from the windshield into the rear haunch. Together with rear passenger headroom requirements, this meant the pre-production car could only be fitted with a small boot opening. 

Just how Tesla has rectified this remains to be seen, but Electrek believes the fix could range from simply being able to make the opening larger to the car being available in two separate configurations – one of them with a larger boot.


Tesla Model 3 caught on video – watch the footage

21 June

The Tesla Model 3 isn't scheduled to be on the roads until late 2017 - but one motorist has already spotted it being taken out for a spin.

YouTube user Jeff Klakring has uploaded a clip showing the affordable electric vehicle, a matte-black number escorted by two Model S saloons, cruising on a highway in Palo Alto, near Tesla's California headquarters. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"96414","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

The video has been picked up by dedicated electric car blogs as well as the likes of Electrek, which says spotting the Model 3 out in the wild is rare – the last time it was caught on camera by a member of the public was two months ago.

The site adds that it can't discern anything different about the car from what we've already seen in an official capacity. Even the very minor peek at the interior, filmed when the car-spotter pulls alongside, suggests very little has changed – an interesting point, considering the Model 3 is expected to be overhauled for part two of its reveal.

Teslarati manages to glean a bit more from the scoop, saying that the strip of tarmac the Model 3 is driving on is "the CA highway 280 near the Tesla Motors HQ in Palo Alto, CA.

"This is the same stomping grounds that saw open testing of the Model X prior to it entering production," it adds.

Interestingly, the site says we could be looking at the final production version rather than a prototype. Tesla boss Elon Musk has previously said the design would be finished by June, so "it’s quite possible that we’re actually seeing the final version of the highly anticipated mass market electric vehicle".

Tesla Model 3: Panasonic named as battery supplier

08 June

Tesla chief executive has once again taken to Twitter to tease fans with the latest titbit of information regarding the company's much-hyped Model 3 car.

Following a report by Reuters yesterday which claimed the company is in talks with Samsung SDI to supply the batteries for the all-electric car, Elon Musk revealed that the cells will actually be made by Panasonic.

He added that the two companies are firmly wedded – Tesla's Model S and Model X cars also use cells made by the Japanese tech firm.

As The Verge points out, it was thought that a deal between Tesla and Samsung SDI was on the table in order to help cover the exceptional demand for the car.

After being revealed in pre-production format at the end of March, Musk's firm has received almost 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 and has had to alter its production schedule. The original plans to manufacture 500,000 cars a year by 2020 have been brought forward two years to 2018.

While a lucky few will receive their cars towards the end of 2017, the vast majority on the waiting list look set to take delivery the following year.

Buyers don't know where they are in the queue nor how long their wait may be - but fans appear to have come across a way to find out.

Electrek reports that a poster on the Tesla Motor Clubs forum has discovered a way to find the queue number via the My Tesla section of the company's website. Fans have set up a Google Spreadsheet in an ambitious bid to spell out the full waiting list.

Tesla Model 3: 'Big' reveal coming by end of 2016

02 June

Tesla is preparing a "big" reveal event before the end of the year to unveil more information about its upcoming affordable electric car, the Model 3.

Speaking on stage at the Code Conference in California, chief executive Elon Musk said that the car's final design would be "complete pencils down" in around six weeks, reports The Verge.

His comments echoes those made during a conference call with analysts in May.

Musk first unveiled the Model 3 on 31 March, presenting a driveable pre-production version of the vehicle. But that was only "part one" of the launch; part two should see the final design, as well as interior and full specifications made public.

It was when asked if the Model 3 would come with full Autopilot capabilities that the Tesla boss hinted fans had a "big" reveal event to look forward to towards the end 2016, implying that we could be see the final car before the year is out.

As for Autopilot, Tesla would "do the obvious thing", he added.

Musk has previously tweeted that part two of the car's reveal would be "super next level".

Given that the next Model 3 event has been unearthed through a question about Tesla Autopilot, it strongly suggests the car will come with some form of autonomous capability.

As Fortune notes, Musk also reiterated his ambition to deliver fully autonomous cars by 2018. When the next Model 3 event later this year takes place, "the company would be just one year away from achieving the goal".

Tesla Model 3: Owners won't get free Supercharging

1 June

Tesla has clarified one of the biggest unknowns surrounding the firm's upcoming affordable electric car - and it's disappointing news for buyers.

Despite announcing at the Model 3's reveal on 31 March that access to the company's Supercharger network – 632 stations of 3,780 120kW fast chargers – would come as standard, chief executive Elon Musk has now confirmed that drivers will have to pay.

At the moment, use of the Supercharger stations is free for drivers of Tesla's Model S saloon and Model X SUV.

"Free Supercharging fundamentally has a cost," Bloomberg reports Musk telling the annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday. "The obvious thing to do is decouple that from the cost of the Model 3. So it will still be very cheap, and far cheaper than gasoline, to drive long-distance with the Model 3, but it will not be free long distance for life unless you purchase that package".

He did not indicate how much the "package" would be. However, as Electrek points out, original, lower end Model Ss using 40 and 60kWh battery packs can be upgraded for Supercharging use at a price of $2,500 (£1,730).

"Based on Musk's comments, it sounds like a similar option will be offered to Model 3 buyers," adds the site – a one-off fee compared to a subscription.

Supercharging can fill up a Tesla vehicle for an additional 170 miles in around 30 minutes, making it hugely popular on long distance drives. "Some stations along key routes are already jam-packed," says The Verge, adding that the introduction of a mass-produced Tesla model with free Supercharging could tip the current network over the edge.

The company has plans to expand its network regardless. The current figure of more than 3,700 chargers will double to in excess of 7,000 next year, with around 15,000 working units worldwide targeted for 2018.

Tesla to host gigafactory's grand opening in July

31 May

Telsa Motors will open its colossal gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, in July, reports Stuff.

The "gargantuan" site is being rushed into action to ramp up Tesla's production capabilities as it tackles a 400,000-strong list of pre-orders for its forthcoming Model 3.

However, while the grand opening is set for July 29, commentators doubt the venue will be fully operational by then as a few weeks ago, it was reported to be only one-eighth built.

Tesla revealed the launch date in an email to customers who had won tickets to the opening through the company's car referral program, says Fortune. After the message was posted on Reddit, Tesla confirmed that a "customer-focused launch event will occur that night".

The 130-acre gigafactory, which will produce the costly lithium-ion batteries needed for the Model 3, is crucial to Tesla's plans to accelerate production. "Having one massive factory dedicated to making the batteries, and doing so at a large scale, should drive down costs and increase efficiency over time," writes Stuff's Andrew Hayward.

Elon Musk's company hopes to deliver the first Model 3s at the end of next year, although the factory won't reach full production until 2020. At that stage, it should be able to help Tesla meet its ambitious target of making 500,000 electric cars per year.



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