Tesla Inc. delivered the new electric Model 3 compact car to its first 30 customers — all employees — on Friday evening. The car starts at $35,000, which is half the cost of Tesla's previous models, so it has the potential to attract many more customers to the brand.
Already, around 500,000 people worldwide have paid $1,000 to reserve a car, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says.
Here are some details about the Model 3:
The starting price of the Model 3 is $35,000. A version with every available option, including longer range, partial self-driving capability, special paint (it costs $1,000 to get any color besides black) and sport wheels costs $59,500. That includes $3,000 for "full self-driving capability," which Tesla promises sometime in the future.
In the U.S., where sales will begin, the Model 3 is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, but that credit is likely to begin phasing out next year after Tesla sells more than 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. Many states offer additional tax credits, including California, Colorado and New York.
The Model 3 is 184.8 inches (15.3 ft./4.3 meters) long and 72.8 inches (6 ft./1.8 meters) wide, which is similar in size to a BMW 3 Series. The Model 3 can comfortably seat five adults.
The base model can go an estimated 220 miles (354 kilometers) on a charge. For a $9,000 upgrade, customers can get a long-range version that goes 310 miles (498 kilometers) on a charge.
The base model goes from 0-60 miles per hour (96.5 kph) in 5.6 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph (209 kph). The long-range version goes from 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) in 5.1 seconds and has a top speed of 140 mph (225 kph).
The base model can get 130 miles (209 km) of range in 30 minutes at a Tesla Supercharger or 30 miles (48 km) of range per hour with a 240-volt home charger. The long-range model can get 170 miles (273.5 kph) of range in 30 minutes at a Supercharger or 37 miles (59.5) of range per hour with a home charger.
The Model 3 has some surprises. There is no instrument panel; the odometer and other details normally there can all be found on a center screen. That let engineers give the car a more spacious, less cluttered feel. There are no traditional air conditioning vents; they're hidden within the dashboard and the driver can control the direction of the airflow from the center screen. There's also no key fob. The Model 3 can be opened, started and locked using a smartphone or a card that comes with the car.
The cameras, radar and other hardware for Autopilot, Tesla's partially self-driving system, will be on all cars, but customers have to pay $5,000 for the whole suite of semi-autonomous capabilities, including automatic lane-changing and self-parking. There's also a separate $5,000 premium package that comes with 12-way power adjustable seats, wood decor and a tinted glass roof. Eighteen-inch wheels come standard; 19-inch sport wheels are $1,500 extra.
People reserving a car now will likely get it in late 2018. Versions with the long-range battery will be delivered first, starting this summer; base models will follow in the fall. West Coast customers will get their cars first. The cars will start to ship overseas late next year, with right-hand-drive versions coming in 2019.