As a car nut, this is incredibly exciting news. I love cars; I love driving. As long as I've been driving, a car has been about more than getting from point A to point B.
The Model S is lust-worthy, but it is very expensive, starting at close to $70k. Once you bump up to the 85 kWh model (for the range), the price tag jumps to $80k. As an enthusiast, the interesting model is the 85P at $93,400.
From a performance standpoint, the 85P variant is on par with a BMW M5; a turbocharged V8 powered super-saloon. That's a really astonishing feat for an all-electric sedan, considering that the M5 is the canonical super-saloon.
The new 2015 BMW M3 (4-door version) starts at $62k. If Tesla offers a "P" variant of the Model III that competes with the M3, they'll have plenty of room to price it competitively.
I'm nearly giddy with excitement at that prospect. I currently drive an M3 (coupe), and the Model III 85P is a car that I would jump at in a heartbeat.
as a car guy, you should know that the p85+ is not on par with either the m5 comp or the e63 amg s. it's not as fast to 60mph/100kph and is not nearly as fast in the quarter mile. it's also significantly cheaper than either of those.
the p85+ is 300 pounds heavier and produces 150hp LESS horsepower and torque than either of those cars. do the math.
the new m5 and e63 are rip-your-face-off-fast. they run 11 second quarter miles with subpar traction. mb and bmw see tesla coming and they know the only thing that keeps them at the top of the game is pure, unadulterated horsepower so that's what sets them apart at the top end.
having said all that, teslas have nicer interiors and that really big touch screen is pretty cool. all the ui software in german cars basically sucks.
Beachstartup is right, I was being over-generous in my characterization when I said "on par". I really meant for the kind of driving you'd do every day, the cars are on par, but in raw performance, cars like the M5 and C63 AMG absolutely destroy the Model S P85+.
That video is a fluke. In (instrumented) test after test, the M5 is over 1 second faster 0-60, and more than 2 seconds faster down the quarter mile. That might not sound like a lot, but imagine a car drives by at 100+ MPH, now count...
How far down the road is that car now? That's the distance between an M5 and a 85P+ in the quarter mile.
There is a realm of performance at the very top end where the dino-powered engine still has an advantage. Electrics can achieve the same performance, but you're fighting an up-hill battle to get there. You have to make too many compromises along the way  in order to beat them. Right now, at least. It'll be slow coming, but I believe the transition to electric advantage is coming.
I test drove the Telsa S (along with several other cars in the general $100k range) and found the acceleration to be astounding, but the handling to be uninspired and the interior actually felt cheap to me. There's nothing like the immediate acceleration from the Tesla, but the M5 just seems like a better overall car today. The M5 is a total beast, but still incredibly comfortable. Wouldn't be hard for Tesla to change the interior. Just felt hard to swallow paying $100k and sitting in a plasticy feeling interior. Also the handling in the M5 is a completely different animal than anything I experienced in the Tesla. Again, not impossible or maybe not even hard for the Tesla to update in the future, but the M5 just feels like a better car today.
I actually agree with you on the interior not beeing at the same level as other highend cars such as the M5, or the Mercedes S Class. They have however spoken about an upgrade of the seats for the Model S, late this year, which might help it along. Here in Denmark gas cars are taxed 180% so a 85KW Model S is 610.000DKK and a BMW M5 is 1.600.000DKK. That makes the choice easy..
$35,000 will be _after_ rebates, guaranteed. So, figure on the low 40s, base model. Which would still be an amazing price... today. But we're talking about 2017. Probably _late_ 2017 since they haven't even broken ground on the battery factory that will be needed to build these things. Meanwhile, Nissan already has a US battery factory and is rumored to have a 150-mile EV for 2016. Some recent customer surveys and the recently announced battery replacement price suggest that they could price that car under $40,000, a full year before Tesla.
Tesla typically markets the price of their car inclusive of tax rebates. Pricing it below an entry-level 3-series would be foolish, so I'd definitely expect to see it at ~$43k (probably $45k with 2 years of inflation).
He's also said that the price point will the equivalent to this price point so I'd assume that it will be adjusted for inflation as well. Then after options (supercharging, tech package, maybe larger battery pack, etc), a more realistic price point would be between $40-55k. But for a stripped down version, you'd still be able to get away with $35k.
This model will certainly allow Tesla to access a new and much larger group of potential customers, but I doubt it will be a "main-stream" vehicle. $35,000 is decidedly in the realm of high-end luxury cars (this car is still going to be far more expensive than the entry-level models from Mercedes, Audi and other prestige brands) and is still inaccessible to the vast majority of buyers, albeit not necessarily as exclusive Tesla's previous supercars.
Now, Tesla is no longer an "I need to be a millionaire" brand and instead an "I need to be a lawyer or engineer" brand.
Although this is a really exciting vehicle, I still think Tesla ultimately wants to target the proletariate with cars in the $18,000 to $22,00 range (possibly with a different brand to preserve the elite reputation of the Tesla name). That segment is far more lucrative than the limited luxury market for high-end cars. As soon as Tesla ships a car that can be afforded on an average income, things will really get interesting...
As someone who is very conscious of personal finance, I'd never spend $35k on a car (and something tells me this will be more than that in reality, especially with upgrades). Then again, I'm also the sort of person who chooses to live in an apartment instead of a house just so I can walk to work rather than commute.
That said, it never ceases to flat out amaze me how much others are willing to spend on cars. I imagine you're underestimating how many people buy cars in this price range who make half as much as the typical engineer or lawyer. Given this, I'm willing to bet folks who really have no business in a $35-45k vehicle will flock to it anyway.
People shop on monthly payments. Say that gas is $5/gallon in three years (and I'm pretty sure that's conservative). For 1500 miles a month at 30 mpg, that's $250 a month in gas. Subtract that plus maintenance from your payment and you're getting into econobox territory. I think $35,000 will be a pretty big deal.
The BMW 320i starts at $32,750 in the US. This is a relatively recent development though. The 328i (previously the entry model) starts at $37,300, which is more, but I wouldn't characterize $35k as "way" cheaper.
One thing that it's important to remember is that pure electric cars are very different beasts from gas powered cars, including hybrids. With a hybrid you add equipment and you put a premium on weight, which creates a lot of complexity and difficult engineering. Electric cars have plenty of difficulties but by eliminating all of the gas engine parts it greatly simplifies the vehicle, which potentially can give rise to cost savings.
Almost any new technology initially has high unit cost before it can be optimized and this is no less true for electric cars. The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.
Without giving away too much, I can say that the second model will be a sporty four door family car at roughly half the $89k price point of the Tesla Roadster and the third model will be even more affordable. In keeping with a fast growing technology company, all free cash flow is plowed back into R&D to drive down the costs and bring the follow on products to market as fast as possible. When someone buys the Tesla Roadster sports car, they are actually helping pay for development of the low cost family car.
I had a chance to drive a Model S down Mt. Evans in CO at an owner event. We need to buy a new car in August but have a hard time justifying the price of the Model S. We're looking at some fairly nice traditional vehicles (335xi, IS350, X3, Q5, etc) and it literally feels like we're buying obsolete technology. While other cars are advertising 9 speed transmissions I'm thinking why should I feel a car shifting? Why should the torque curve be non-instant and non-linear? Why should we ever go to gas stations?
In fact, I'm pretty tempted to just drive our oldest car into the ground and wait until the 3rd gen comes out as I can't imagine wanting anything else.
I was right there with you. Earlier this year, my high miles Camry started to have problems, and so I had to do something. I went with a new car that would be a good hand-me-down for my kids when they reach driving age, expecting some nice Telsa-like vehicles to be ready in a few years. This news fits nicely with that plan.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a 4-wheel-drive Tesla model for those of us who live where it snows copiously... but that price tag might be a game-changer regardless. That's going to open up a whole new demographic for them.
I surely hope Tesla will get this car to market on time. The timeline of 2016-2017 seems very aggressive given the Gigafactory has not even found a location let allow begun producing batteries. Elon has noted that a big issue with the "cheaper" Tesla was getting battery cost down aka building the factory to produce them at huge scale. Combine this with producing a more easily purchased vehicle due to lower price and I could see a battery shortage issue.
My second hope: that the Model III won't have a 3 month lead time like the Model S currently does.
I don't know how many people own a 3 series here but as a person that owns one I feel that this title should be more about the fact that this competes with a Prius more than a 3 series. If it has $35k price point it makes it cost ~10k more than a stock Prius or the same price as a Prius with most of the options. It would cost about the same as if the $7,500 is extended, which I think will be extended. Helping Tesla allows speaks to both parties ideals. It helps the environment, is an example of the american dream and can be framed as a reason for cutting taxes.
They're comparing it to the 3 series because that's the market they're going after. They don't want it to be perceived as the latest eco-mobile but rather competitive with the "ultimate driving machine." It should have the performance, handling and quality of a premium sports sedan, not a econo box.
Trademarks don't expire as long as you keep using them - and you don't have to use them in necessarily very conspicuous ways (that's the reason all iMac boxes have "Think Different" in small lettering on the side). I wouldn't be surprised if Ford still maintained the Model T trademark.
It's entirely possible the naming decisions are being made by Musk himself. If they are not, I find this article an irritating exemplar of the CEO-centric view of the world that many articles -- and many CEOs -- seem to take. If they are, well, that goes double.
Musk isn't just a CEO. He's their Steve Jobs -- co-founder and visionary. He's chief product architect. And he's also the money. I think he deserves the right to have a CEO-centric view of his company.
> but he was the founder in every respect that matters.
Except actually being a founder. He provided money to an existing company, resulting in a controlling stake in that company. Certainly he is important aspect of Tesla as it is today, I'm not disputing that, but being important, perhaps even the single most critical aspect of Tesla today, does not make him a founder. It only makes him important.
Even Musk doesn't claim to have founded Tesla. He's said in the past the he was looking for a company like Tesla to become involved in. That Eberhard's dream (an electric sports car) overlapped Musk's (build affordable electric cars, but start with a high end sports car) is what brought them together.