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Tesla Model III to challenge BMW 3 Series (autoexpress.co.uk)
229 points by mshafrir on July 16, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

A $35,000 price (before presumed tax rebates) would really make this car a very much more main-stream vehicle rather than a "Luxury Car".

If they can pull off the whole charger network expansion thing, this will be Tesla's bread and butter car for a while.

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.

Cue link to a Tesla Model S beating a BMW M5. http://youtu.be/vvHTN0Yi1t4

You might want to do a testdrive yourself..

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 [1] in order to beat them. Right now, at least. It'll be slow coming, but I believe the transition to electric advantage is coming.

1: Here's an example of an extremely compromised all-out electric that is capable of beating its petrol powered equivalent. Have a look at 3:35 ish for a drag race. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gFGX43vubM.

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..

Tesla Model S beating M5... You serious?


it doesn't matter how many poorly driven races you can find on youtube, the statistics are the statistics. the p85+ is not as powerful. period.

this isn't up for debate, it's a factual statement. the german cars are lighter and produce more power. they also cost a lot more, because winning is expensive.

$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).

Elon Musk has said before that the $35k price point is assuming that the $7500 federal tax credit is no longer available. http://insideevs.com/highlights-from-teslas-2nd-quarter-qa/

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.

but nissan is already promising a 200 mile car for half the model 3 price... your argument is valid for prius today, not for model 3 whenever it's launched.

If you are going to consider the gas savings, you still need to remember that there are also electricity costs as well.

Yes, totally. Take off about $25 for the electricity. The numbers don't change too much.

$35k is not in the realm of high-end luxury cars. $35k is a nicely equipped Camry, Accord or Sonata.

A base model cheap Mercedes is $30k. That extra $5k does not equal high-end, it equals leather and maybe a sunroof on that $30k Mercedes.

The average transaction price of a car in the United States in 2013 was ~$32,000. That figure (from TrueCar) actually excludes Mercedes-Benz, and ultra-exotics.

They cut the price in half, roughly, each time. That seems to be the plan.

I'd be very surprised if that's the case because the car would then be way cheaper than BMW 3-series.

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.


Well, in the US you also get $7500-$10000 worth of tax credits depending on the state that you live in, and you also save on maintenance and fuel.

I can see the Model 3 selling in California for $35k after tax credits (which is $45k before).

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.

I'd be fine with a 50-55k loaded premium version, as long as it is old 335/B7 A4 sized, rather than as big as a Model S.

The sad thing is HOV lane access in California will be pretty much gone by then.

If they can sell a nicely loaded III for ~45k, they wouldn't be able to produce them fast enough.

Besides the Cayenne, what other 80k car has sold as well as the MS? There are literally people who would never buy a Maserati or a Porsche who are buying Model S's. There are now 3 in our building.

I thought for a minute that the site was an Onion-esque parody site considering the first couple paragraphs deal with how they tried to name their models after the word 'sex'.

Nope, that's just Elon for you.

Another example: the code name for SpaceX's future Mars launch vehicle is `BFR`.

aka, Big F*cking Rocket

And the test stand

BFTS the big fucking test stand.

And they said naming is hard.

If you picture Elon Musk as Tony Stark from the Iron Man movies then that quote fits a little better. (Supposedly Robert Downey Jr even modeled his character after Musk).

I always think of him as being more like Peter Weyland from the Alien universe.

"For those of you who do not yet know me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Peter Weyland, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to change the world."[0]

0. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpYUW0ekPSA

For reference and fun, Musk speaking about the trademark.


BTW, they have 'y' as well. :)

after that he gives more details on his design for a vtol supersonic aircraft, which is awesome

FYI, the Model 3 images used by @AutoExpress were mock-ups based on their own speculation.


I can't imagine that the real Model III would anything like this. I doubt that Tesla would make another car that looked so much like the Model S. I expect it to look far more distinctive.

Another step in the master plan:

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.


Tesla Motors twitter links to this, but what's going on with revealing the name and Roadster plans in some British car magazine?

The Model S was launched in the UK last month - given the number of marketing emails I'm now getting from them, they appear to be doing a big sales push here.

Then wouldn't this be them Osbourning themselves?

No. This car isn't targeted at the luxury market, and is 3yrs away.

And the digression on the thinking behind the name makes the article feel like a spoof.

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 thought Teslas were already super popular in Norway?

Yes, currently second most selling car (after nissan leaf) or something like that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZ5PqPeOPT0 <- winter review in Norway.

Isn't the Model X AWD?

Indeed. Dual motor all wheel drive. Musk speaking about it below.



If it snows a lot, wouldn't you also have battery life problems because of the cold?

Gasoline cars have batteries that die in the cold too.

Which is one of the reasons you have to plug in a gas car in cold weather as well, the other being the oil freezing in the crankcase, a problem a Tesla doesn't have.

iirc the Tesla battery pack has liquid heating and cooling.

And what better time to run out of juice than in a blizzard. Good luck with them solar chargers when it's been grey for a week.

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.

If it's going to be called "3", then 3 horizontal bars mimics the numeral as well as resembling the letter E enough to still allow the SEX joke/marketing/whatever.

That's what Musk said himself. I think it's pretty funny, if a little juvenile ;)

If the Tesla Model E was going to be sued by Ford for their E-Series vans, won't the the Tesla Model 3 get sued by BMW for their 3-Series cars?

No, it's Model "III" not Model "3" #wink.

I really hope they make a compact pickup for the industrial sector, Ford pulled out of that market with the Ranger.

Jaguar also just announced a car for this category: http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/jaguar-xe-small-saloon-20...

I just can't get it up for any new car that isn't electric. ICE is just so broken. It's like CDs in age of digital downloads or new a PHP framework in age of sanity.

If you notice, III is 'E' rotated counterclockwise by 90 degrees - subtle but genius response to Ford's "hey Tesla, you cannot use Model E. If you do, we will sue you!"

Are you sure it's not rotated clockwise?

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.

Missed opportunity to have another Model T, since that comes directly after S.

If Ford is suing them for Model E, they would undoubtedly sue them for Model T.

The Model T is over 100 years old now, surely Ford can't have a monopoly on a name that long right?

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[1]). I wouldn't be surprised if Ford still maintained the Model T trademark.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_different#Product_packagi...

And Ford actually sued another company in 2000 for trying to use the name "Model E":


Model T was pretty cheap so anyone can afford it no? I think that may be the "next-gen" after III, the one that will come at $20,000, maybe by 2022.

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.



No it isn't. Musk isn't a co-founder either. He came in on Tesla's A round.

Musk might not have been the founder on paper, but he was the founder in every respect that matters. The company you see today is his vision, not the product of Eberhard and Tarpenning.

> 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.

What's the purpose in announcing this three years in advance?

shut up and take my money

Got to drive a Tesla last weekend. If this car is anything like the one I drove, even remotely close, Tesla wins. And I'm not even talking about the electronics panel.

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