A few months after legal threats from Ford caused Tesla to retract its claim for the Model E trademark, Tesla’s upcoming third-generation car has a new name: the Tesla Model III (or perhaps Tesla Model ≡, as our regular tipster Brian Henderson pointed out to us earlier today?)
As announced this morning by Autoexpress in an exclusive interview with Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] CEO Elon Musk — and then confirmed by Tesla Motors on Twitter — the third-generation sedan will fight against the BMW 3-Series in the marketplace, offering over 200 miles of all-electric range, Supercharger capability for quick charging at Tesla’s Supercharger stations, and a far more affordable price tag.
During his interview, Musk was told what is now a familiar story to electric car fans about how Tesla had to drop the original name for the Model E. “We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car,” he said. “So I said we had the model S and X,we might as well have the E.”
“We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E – I thought this is crazy, Ford’s trying to kill sex! So we’ll have to think of another name,” he continued.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve been unofficially calling the third-generation Tesla the Tesla Model Three for quite some time, not because we’ve had some special kind of insight, but because three not only rhymes with the letter E, but it seemed to fit well with Tesla’s third-generation car. It turns out we weren’t far out, but Musk explained the change of name a little differently.
“The new model is going to be called Model III, we’ll have three bars to represent it and it’ll be S III X!,” he said.
While that’s pretty neat, we suspect the actual way of writing the name will be identical to the sign used in place of E in Tesla’s company logo: T≡SLA. So from now on, we’re going to use that instead.
Built on a brand new platform loosely based on the one used for the Tesla Model S and upcoming Tesla Model X, the Model ≡ will be around 20 percent smaller in size than the Model S. Since Tesla is promising enough battery pack to travel at least 200 miles per charge, we’re guessing the Model ≡ will follow the lead of the Model S and integrate the battery pack and drivetrain into the car’s chassis.
Despite having more than 200 miles of range per charge however, Musk says the Model ≡ won’t break the bank, coming in at around $35,000 when it launches in late 2016/early 2017 as a 2017 model year car. That’s a price which we note is well within the price bracket of the BMW 3-Series Tesla is so keen for the Model ≡ to cross shop against, but it’s a price that Tesla will only be able to achieve if its massive Gigafacotry goes on line in time by 2017 at the very latest.
Any later, and Tesla will have to delay the Model ≡, or we presume, push up its price.
As for what it will look like? Autoexpress has its own ideas based on some mockups it has commissioned, but Tesla is keen to point out that the mockups aren’t officially approved by Tesla.
FYI, the Model 3 images used by @AutoExpress were mock-ups based on their own speculation.
— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) July 16, 2014
Like a well-worn sweater, we think the name Model fits Tesla’s new car perfectly. And while the name we were predicting was subtlety different the one Tesla has chosen, we’ve got to admit: it’s nice when your predictions come true.
Do you like the Tesla Model ≡name? Is it the name you would have chosen, or would you have picked a different one? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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