With its Model X full-size plug-in SUV just a few weeks away from hitting the streets, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken to his favorite social media platform to tease a little more information about Tesla’s next-big automotive project, the 2018 Tesla Model 3.
Billed as Tesla’s first truly-affordable long-range car, the Tesla Model 3 will retail for around $35,000, offer at least 200 miles of range per charge, and be sized to cross-shop against cars like the BMW 3-Series sedan.
While it was first promised several years ago, Tesla has yet to reveal any official designs for the Model 3, nor has it shown a prototype or concept vehicle in public to preview the model.
But in a tweet made yesterday via his personal Twitter account, Musk confirmed that Tesla will unveil the Model 3 in March next year alongside the launch of a Tesla Model 3 preorder program.
As referenced by Musk in his tweet, the Tesla Model 3’s $35,000 predicted sticker price relies on Tesla’s massive lithium-ion manufacturing and reprocessing Gigafactory in Reno, NV being operational and producing high-volumes of lithium-ion battery cells.
Without the Gigafactory, Tesla simply wouldn’t be able to produce or purchase the high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells needed for the Model 3 at a price point low enough to keep to the promised sticker price.
Luckily for Tesla and its fans, construction at the Gigafactory site in Reno is said to be progressing ahead of schedule, with Tesla’s manufacturing partner Panasonic due to begin the process of fitting the Gigafactory with high-tech cleanroom machinery used in lithium-ion cell manufacture in the next few months.
As our friends over at GreenCarReports are careful to note however, Tesla has yet to meet a single production deadline for any of its vehicles.
Its first limited-production model, the two-seat Tesla Roadster, was late to market, as was its first mass-produced car, the Tesla Model S electric sedan.
Model 3, our smaller and lower cost sedan will start production in about 2 years. Fully operational Gigafactory needed.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 2, 2015
The Model X — due to hit the streets in the next month or so — is now more than a year behind the original production schedule promised by Tesla at its unveiling.
While that could mean that the Model 3 may be later to market than indicated, we’d like to point out that Tesla could be delaying on the reveal of an alpha prototype in an attempt to behave a little more like other automakers, most of whom have a twelve to eighteen-month cadence between the reveal of a new model and it appearing on dealer lots.
With Audi, Volkswagen, General Motors and Nissan all due to bring out their own long-range mid-size vehicles on a similar time-frame, one of the largest vehicle market segments will certainly be transformed by the advent of the affordable long-distance electric car.
Tesla just needs to make sure that it hits its targets on time to ensure it doesn’t miss out on what could potentially be a massive market lead if everything goes its own way.
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