By on July 17, 2014


Tesla announced the name of its low-cost EV due to arrive around 2017: Model 3.

Autoblog reports the name was announced on its Facebook page Tuesday, after Ford rebuffed CEO Elon Musk’s desire to call the $35,000 EV the Model E earlier this year. Musk adds the name will be written as a Roman numeral, and would occupy the space between the S and the X as far as now-vague sexual references go.

Beyond the new name, not much has been revealed aside from a 20-percent size reduction over the Model S, the increased use of steel in its construction, and that the 3 would go up against the BMW 3 Series.

Roadster owners, meanwhile, will receive an update that would swap the current battery pack for an improved model delivering 400 miles per charge over the former’s 245 miles.

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53 Comments on “Low-Cost Tesla EV To Be Dubbed Model 3...”

  • avatar

    So what’s the target price point again? I guess they consider ‘affordable’ to be $50k for the full range model these days.

  • avatar

    So Tesla’s lineup will soon be the S ≡ X Roadster? Much lulz indeed.

    If they are gunning for BMW, should make for some interesting marketing conversations in the future:

    “So I bought a 3.”
    “Nah man, not that unreliable overpriced crap. The only *real* 3…..Tesla.”

  • avatar

    In order to make “sense” the “Model III” needs to be the size of a Malibu/Sonata/Camry or Accord and come with EVERYTHING those cars come with for less $50,000.

    -heated seats/ventilated seats
    -rear camera
    -vinyl/leather/pleather (whatever)

    And a 200 mile range (minimum).

    People planning to buy a “BMW 3” aren’t crosshopping. It’s name equity they care about.

    Then you factor in the inconvenience of having to wait to charge an EV.

    • 0 avatar

      The Model III is currently at the top of my next car wish list.

      -nav – Meh.
      -moonroof – I won’t buy a car with a moonroof.
      -heated seats/ventilated seats – Meh on heating, but I think I’d like ventilated seats.
      -rear camera – Required by law by the time it goes on sale.
      -vinyl/leather/pleather – I actually prefer cloth, but I get that car snobs prefer leather. Overall, it’s a meh.

      I don’t *need* more range than the current crop of EVs (80 mi-100 mi), but I think I’d really like 150 mi. Anything more than that I don’t think I’d even use, honestly. However, I suspect the Model III will work with the supercharger network, which has a certain spacing along roads, so you can expect the car to match that.

      I don’t think I would be disappointed with the name equity of driving a Tesla.

      I’m not sure how I will ever function with the inconvenience of driving home & parking the car in my garage everyday to refuel it. Driving out of my way to go to a gas station and stand around for a few minutes and then drive an equal distance to get back to where I was going is such an important part of my day. Plugging in my cell phone at night or when I’m not using it has made me virtually incapable of functioning and has led to serious anxiety and depression because I’m just not capable of adjusting my routine. Maybe saving two-thirds on my fuel costs will help ameliorate these ills.

      • 0 avatar

        If both you and I leave the same point and try to drive 400 miles to another state, I’ll get there first – probably whilst you are still searching for a supercharger or charging the car at the 300 mile mark…and that’s assuming you had the 85KWh Model S ($85,000) while I could get the same trip accomplished in a $30,000 Malibu/Sonata 2.0t, etc.

        NO the EV isn’t time efficient. Whatever happened to the whole “battery swap” thing? That’s the ONLY WAY those cars would ever be time efficient.

        • 0 avatar

          …I’ll get there first…” Bully for you. It’ll also cost you about $60 in petrol. The Tesla driver will, of course, do it for free and have the benefit of knowing that his trip has supported US jobs and ideals and *not* helped to pay the oily lunatics to take over the asylum and done his or her bit to stop the need to send thousands of US servicemen and women across the globe to lose their lives – along with US$100b’s – securing the stuff in the first place… just so *you* can “get there first”. Pathetic.

      • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      For me, I’d cross shop this against an i3. I’m looking for something that would be a good urban warrior, so small size is important. The i3 also has one killer urban feature that I want – it’s active cruise control has the ability to take the car down to a dead stop in heavy traffic, so all you have to do is steer. If the MIII doesn’t have it, I’m not sure I’d even bother test driving it.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not cross-shop? Tesla has been very effective at building a premium brand with the Model S.

      I’ll be in the market for a new car next year and the BMW 3 is the incumbent on my list. If the Model 3 were available, I would absolutely cross-shop as long as it has 200+ miles of range.

      Furthermore, I’ve been disappointed with the electric steering and the coarse 2.0T in the F30 (relative to the old I6). Between creamy electric power delivery and a low CG, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Model 3 beat BMW at their own game.

    • 0 avatar

      “People planning to buy a “BMW 3″ aren’t crosshopping. It’s name equity they care about.”

      Assuming Tesla buyers are a subset of BMW buyers may be a fallacy.

      I can afford a 3-Series, and a fast comfortable car sounds like fun. But I don’t want a BMW, because I don’t want people to assume I’m a desperate status seeker who drives like a jackass. This is BMW means to me, and I’m not going to wrap myself in THAT.

      But, I am planning to buy a Tesla Model E/3, or a second generation Nissan Leaf, as a commuter car. A $35k-$40k Tesla would probably have an edge over the Leaf, if it happens to be faster and more comfortable.

      (I’ll keep my Sienna for road trips and light towing.)

    • 0 avatar

      “People planning to buy a “BMW 3″ aren’t crosshopping. It’s name equity they care about.”

      That may be true, but this is not a zero-sum game. Model S outsold 7-series, S class, and A8 last year in the US.

  • avatar

    “and that the 3 would go up against the BMW 3 Series”

    ah, so it is going to be really good at parking lot maneuvers.

    come on, Tesla, how about a brown station wagon? Do it!

  • avatar

    A $40k car aimed squarely at the 3 series/A4/C Classe/IS – basically the bread and butter market for every luxury car maker out there that matters.

    After the way the Model S cleaned their clocks, they must be schitting their pants right now.

    • 0 avatar

      Not really, unless Tesla plans to be a mass market automaker. That’s a dumb move for a low volume, high priced luxury car maker. Does Rolls Royce have a “bread and butter” model? Does Ferrari? They go for the “caviar on expensive crackers” market. So should Tesla.

  • avatar

    so from a ‘looking down the road’ perspective, once practical EV battery technology breaks 1000 miles, gas motors are pretty much done, right?
    regardless of charge time, too I would think.

    has anyone ever done any research into what the EV range ‘tipping point’ is vs. a gas motor for the average consumer?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I don’t think it has to be bigger battery, if charging speed is high enough.

      That is, toting batteries around for >500mi if you can fill at 250kW (about 2x current Supercharging) is a bit overkill. 250kW is about 800mph worth of filling, so a battery that could take 250kW sustained charging could get 200mi in about 20 minutes. That’s time enough to stretch legs, grab a drink, check email, screw around on the web, etc.

      But to get to 250kW charging safely and reliably, with LiIon tech that’s currently on the market, you probably need at least 125kWh of battery. Hopefully we see some disruptive breakthroughs come out of the lab: while battery density tends to go up about 7% per year, the actual pace of that can be somewhat lumpy.

    • 0 avatar

      Everyone talks about range, but that’s not the real issue. None of my cars can drive 1000 mi without refueling, so there’s no reason we’d ever see that from an EV.

      Range is not a property of batter tech. Want more range? Add more batteries. What *is* a property of battery tech is cost, weight, and recharge rate.

      We will continue to see a evolutionary reduction in the cost of batteries. Maybe we’ll see a revolutionary jump now and then. Already, when considering their entire lifespan, battery EVs are cost-competitive with ICEs because electricity is so much cheaper than gasoline (running a car on electricity is ~1/3 the price of gasoline). It’s expected that EVs will also have lower maintenance costs, but I’m willing to wait for real data on that front.

      Weight is a real issue for batteries. Adding more to increase the range means more dead weight to lug around all the time. Unless there’s a breakthrough in energy density, there’s a limit to ordinary range. However, there already exist add-ons to get around this problem when extra range is needed, like a range extender on a trailer. I also like the technology posted here a while back of a non-rechargeable battery that’s just a set of aluminum plates that corrode and can be swapped out when consumed.

      Charging rate is also a problem, but maybe not as big a deal as previously thought. Personally, I’d like to see a combination battery-supercapacitor where the capacitor handles quick-charging, regenerative braking, & acceleration requirements, leaving the battery to provide lower-power, extended range duty (like driving on the hwy). It’s reasonable that the supercapacitor would also improve the overall energy density & thus increase range without adding too much weight.

      • 0 avatar

        Nobody is expecting a car with a 1000 mile range without refueling, if you’re driving 1000 miles in an ICE car you expect to refuel at least a couple of times, but the refueling times are only a few minutes and you can do that in any podunk town in the US at times and range intervals that are convenient to you. Right now the supercharger stations are limited in number and geography so you have to plan any road trip to stay close to the interstates and depend on having an open charging station when you get to those limited number of places. For now, with the limited number of cars that are utilizing them, that’s not a major problem, but as more of these hit the road it will be.

        A car with a reliable range of 200-300 miles is good for at least 90% of my purposes, but I ain’t buying a $50-100k car that I have to leave at home for the few long road trips I do take. It’s one thing to have an inexpensive commuter car, I don’t expect to take long trips in those, so recharge times and locations aren’t important, but for my primary ride it just isn’t acceptable, and I’m not rich enough to be able to justify one of those to save a few bucks a month.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      What’s with the straw man 1000-mile range requirement?

      The tipping point for me was a 73-mile Leaf that I drive every day for $20/month in electricity.

  • avatar

    …i think enough range to comfortably match a typical all-day road trip and recharge overnight would suffice: probably five hundred to eight hundred miles per day would convince a lot of new takers…at one thousand miles range, most reasonable complaints of range anxiety would be dismissed…

  • avatar

    But will it be offered as a brown wagon?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    It won’t be able to handle like a 3 series BMW with 500+ pounds of battery on board.

    What would be cool is a modular battery system, something like 10 small packs that each provide 25 miles of range. If you want maximum performance for a short commute, use one pack. For the long trip, load up 10 packs, or even carry more packs as spares. Dead packs could be swapped along the trip with full ones to keep you going continuously.

    • 0 avatar

      You are right, it’s gonna handle much better than 3 series with those 500 lbs under the floor and not above floor level like the engine and tranny are in 3.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The $35k/200 mile is almost certainly Elon Musk overpromising.

    He loves saying prices after fed/CA tax credits, which would make it $45k. And then he tends to overpromise by about $5K-10K, which would make it $50-55k.

    Anything much less than a 200 mile range is DOA, because a 100 mile range version will get its clocked cleaned by all the super-cheap compliance EVs (e.g. Fit EV: $250/month lease, unlimited mileage, with collision/comprehensive insurance!).

    OTOH, it could make the $45k mark IF he gets the retail price of the battery pack to under $200/kWh usable. This may or may not be possible.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Anything much less than a 200 mile range is DOA, because a 100 mile range version will get its clocked cleaned by all the super-cheap compliance EVs”

      You must not realize that the 80-mile Leaf is cleaning everyone’s clock in terms of volume (Tesla’s Model S is ahead in revenue, possibly soon in volume also), and that compliance EVs don’t sell. I think Nissan outsells all compliance EVs combined.

      The secret to the Model 3’s price will be low-cost batteries, and that only comes by producing them at cost in the Gigafactory (rather than paying Panasonic for them), not to mention the savings provided by recycling old ones.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        How do you know the Leaf isn’t a compliance EV? Have they recouped developments costs such that the car is now net profitable? I doubt it.

        • 0 avatar
          Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

          Because it’s sold and serviced nation/worldwide. That alone means it’s not a ‘compliance car’ as the term is commonly understood (a car sold at a loss in order to earn state-mandated environmental credits that offset more profitable vehicles).

    • 0 avatar

      $35K (without tax credits) with a 200 mile range will make me a buyer. That goes for any EV. I do not want a plug-in hybrid either.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My only real concerns about the Model 3 are:

    1. Will I fit in it? At 6’6″, my choices are limited.
    2. Reliability. Edmunds’ long-term Model S is on its 4th drivetrain and 2nd battery pack, not to mention a host of other bugs. My Leaf has been solid.

    I want to love the Model 3, but remain hesitant for the moment.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim R

      4th drivetrain!?! That’s a real concern. I don’t care how good it is–you’d be better off with the reliability of a BMW or Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        “you’d be better off with the reliability of a BMW or Audi.”

        Now THAT’S cold.

        That said, if I had a 60kWh version that was always in the shop, and thus I had the regular use of a P85 loaner and excellent customer service experiences, I don’t think I’d be too put out..

  • avatar

    On my phone right now. But there a Japanese company that just developed a carbon anode and cathide based battery that charges 20x as fast as li-ion. Its real. Its production ready. Its cost and density competitive. In other words, its the game changer we have all been waiting for. There is a formula e team that will be using them in the upcoming formula e series…I’m excited to see what the near future brings!!

  • avatar
    Tim R

    I’m not deterred by the road trip dilemma. The hassle and lost time in having to locate a charging station and then wait for the full charge is a concern, but most people will not use this as a long mileage vehicle. In the near future, charging stations will be more ubiquitous and charging times will be more reasonable, making this a moot point anyways. Most families will have the Model III along with a CUV or minivan. The Model III will be driven 20-40 miles daily to work-and-back and the CUV will be the weekend/vacation road trip car. This is my plan for in 5-10 years at least. An ICE vehicle is just very inefficient for my 10-15 mile commute. I’d love to have a fun-to-drive EV to drive to work.

  • avatar

    “Roadster owners, meanwhile, will receive an update that would swap the current battery pack ”

    Pardon my nitpicking, but “will receive” implies this is a freebie Tesla will be handing out to current owners. I doubt Tesla will be handing out new $10,000+ battery packs. Autoblog says they’ll be “available”, presumably to owners willing to write large checks.

  • avatar

    I see under $30k being the tipping point for electric cars where consumers will adopt them in really large numbers, but it can’t look like an enclosed golf car.

    The reason Tesla had success was because they knew the electric car was not really about saving money every month on gas, it was a high end luxury good.

    I really don’t think range is the big issue, if you can a real world 200 miles+ per charge, that would be overkill for 99% of drivers. I know it wouldn’t stop me. If somebody regularly takes long road trips, obviously you’re looking at a long time before a battery powered car is going to fit your needs.

    But I see Musk/Tesla overpromising here, especially on price. And count me as someone who thinks it’s absurd taxpayers are subsidizing toys for millionaires.

    It’s one thing to fund research, but when you’re just lining the pockets of billionaires so millionaires can have expensive luxury cars at a discount, that’s what you call crony capitalism.

  • avatar

    Is it any coincidence that Tesla made this announcement right about the same time numerous Model S drive units are failing? Whatever gets unwanted attention away from these premature failures I guess.
    A Model 3 for 35K to 40K with a 200 mile range would be great. Only problem is there will be no Model 3 nor will there be a ‘gigafactory’. There never was and Tesla knows this. Such a car would be financially impossible to make but it really doesn’t matter because there are no plans to make it anyway. The plan is to keep making vague promises to keep investors excited until it is time for a flip.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      So the Gigafactory job postings, ‘future products’ job postings, and talks with candidate states for a Gigafactory site are all just hot air? Gimme a break.

      The only way a Model III happens is with the Gigafactory.

      I guess you also don’t believe the Model X is coming?

      I don’t see Musk flipping Tesla; to me, anyway, he seems committed to make it work.

      As for the failing drivetrains, Tesla must get on top of it, or else they will be in real trouble.

  • avatar

    If that picture is of the model 3 it looks very nice, I’d be interested in buying it in 2017, hope fully by then any teething problems will have been sorted.As GM,Fiatsler and Ford have proven, nearly all car manufactures have had and will have some problems.

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