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Tesla Model 3: Everything you need to know

The Tesla Model 3 has been described as the most important car since the original Ford Model T, but what do we know about Elon Musk’s latest all-electric steed and how much will it cost?

Tesla Motors recently unveiled the Model 3, an all-electric saloon that aims to bring all the benefits of eco-friendly motoring to people with shallower pockets such as zero CO2 emissions locally, near-silent cruising and instant torque.

So we decided to round-up everything we know about a car that costs substantially less than Tesla’s Model S and Model X offerings to build up a better picture of our new electric car overlord.

How big will the Model 3 be?

Not as big as the Model S, that’s for sure. Nor as big as the Model X. But Tesla has promised three proper rear seats and that there will be space for passengers in the rear up to six-foot five inches in height. Should be spacious, then.

In terms of length, the Model 3 is 184.8 inches (4693.92mm) – a sizable increase on the 4978.4mm Model S, which is smaller than the Model X SUV.

The lack of an engine means the front and rear boot layout is present, enhancing the practicality. There were initial complaints over the size of the front trunk, but Musk said it will be revised before launch.

How much Tesla Model 3 boot space are we talking?

A combination of the front and rear trunk provides 424 litres of space. The rear trunk has to be closed manually as there is no automatic option available, unlike in the case of the Model S.

Can I order the Model 3 now?

You can indeed. Simply head over to Tesla’s website to register interest and prepare to part with a US$1,000 deposit to get on the list ─ a much smaller sum than was needed to secure the more expensive Model S. The deposit is refundable so you can change your mind at a later date.

How much will the Model 3 cost?

The official US price is US$35,000 for the standard car, which translates to around £26,000. That is the price before any government incentives. The UK being the UK, the Model 3 is undoubtedly going to cost more than the currency conversion.

For the Model 3 long range version, the price starts from US$44,000 before any extras such as a sun roof or wood on the dashboard.

The big question is whether it will be around £35,000 before the ultra-low emissions vehicle grant of £4,500 or after. If before, that’s going to be mighty tempting to anyone who would otherwise buy combustion engine-toting BMW 3 Series or Audi A4.

How many Model 3 pre-orders have there been?

Tesla Motors reported 325,000 pre-orders in the week after its announcement, making it the biggest car launch ever. How many of those orders follow through to an actual sale remains to be seen, of course, but the total is now said to be more than 450,000 cars. That’s more than US$14billion in ‘implied future sales’, as Tesla puts it.

In the most recent shareholder call, Musk said Tesla had received 518,000 “gross reservations” and 455,000 net reservations because of some cancellations, which were bound to happen.

Just how fast is the Model 3?

The Model 3 will go from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds for the long range Model 3 and 5.6 seconds if you go for the standard car, making it slower than the Model S but still extremely quick for a modest saloon-sized vehicle that uses absolutely no fuel.

In terms of the top speed, the Model 3 standard tops out at 130mph, while the Model 3 long range tops out at 140mph.

What is the Model 3’s range?

220 miles on a single charge has been claimed for the standard car or 310 miles if you pay a few thousands extra for the long range version, which has a larger capacity battery.

Ludicrous Speed mode a feature?

Yes, Elon Musk replied on Twitter that the Model 3 will get the crazy fast Ludicrous Speed mode upgrade. Whether that means the performance of the Model 3 approaches the 2.8 0-60mph sprint of the Model S 90D, remains to be seen.

What will the Tesla Model 3 look like?

Like a smaller version of the Model S on the outside, with the grille-less front-end shared between all vehicles in the Tesla range. There are no automatic doors though, and the alloy wheels are 18 or 19-inches, a lot smaller than the 21-inch maximum on the Model S and 22-inch on the Model X.

Inside the car is a smaller but still very large 15-inch touchscreen display that sits in the centre of the dashboard as if it is floating. You can also have an optional sun roof for a brighter cabin.

Does the Tesla Model 3 have air suspension?

Sadly, not, as that would really bump up the price into Model S territory. Instead it uses coil suspension that will be unable to adjust as you drive along.

Does Autopilot come with the Model 3?

The self-driving Autopilot element of the Model S and Model X is built into the Model 3. While the safety feature such as autonomous emergency braking are standard, the upgrade to the convenience features such as self-driving on motorways is said to cost US$5,000.

Because of the connected nature of the car, it is possible to upgrade to the convenience features at a later date, but if the Model S is anything to go by it will cost more than if you have it fitted at the factory.

How will the Model 3 be charged?

Being a Tesla, the Model 3 will have access supercharger network across the UK but it will require payment each time. You could also charge it using other providers and, if you have a garage or driveway, install a home charger, which is the most common method in the UK.

It is possible to use a standard socket and the smaller battery version of the Model 3 may make it more feasible, but this route is hardly practical in the long run given the lengthy charging times. Think around 20 hours or more.

When will the Model 3 arrive?

The first delivery went to Elon Musk and more recently a batch went to Tesla and SpaceX employees (who will be less prone to complaining about any teething problems). Mid to late 2018 is when customers are expected to start getting their cars if they have ordered one already.

Going from relatively low production levels for the Model S and Model X (the latter experienced numerous delays) to hundreds of thousands of vehicles per year will undoubtedly cause problems so patience will be key.

Will the Model 3 be as safe as the Model S?

That’s the plan. The Model 3 is designed to secure a five-star safety rating and we believe it will get one if the level of safety in the Model S is anything to go by.

What comes after the Model 3?

An even more affordable car is the plan, says Musk. Speaking at a conference in Norway, the billionaire entrepreneur said the overall aim of Tesla was always to make electric cars affordable to “almost everyone” and that if it could have started out with an affordable car first, it would have. But financial limitations meant it had to work in reverse and start with a luxury car.

Will the Model 3 be as good as the Model S?

We really, really hope so, but only a test drive will give us the answer and that won’t be for a while. If the Model 3 is half as good as the Model S, we could be looking at the car that sparks the electric car revolution.