Elon Musk Outlines Strategy to Change Personal Mobility:
Ubiquitous Free ‘Supercharger’ Network Is Key Component
Tesla Motors unveiled its $35,000 battery-electric Model 3 yesterday evening, and said it had taken deposits on 115,000 cars sight-unseen.
“The range will be at least an EPA-rated 215 miles,” said CEO Elon Musk. “These are minimum numbers. We hope to exceed them.”
“An electric really can be the best car.”
Musk also pledged to double the worldwide Tesla charging network to 7,200 high-speed “Superchargers” and 15,000 destination chargers by the end of 2017. “That’s a huge deal,” said one close industry observer, himself a Model S owner: “Free fuel, everywhere, for the life of the vehicle, for every owner.”
The car itself? “Slick and is revolutionary.”
- Sunday Update: Tesla Model 3 orders topped 276,000 by the end of Saturday, according to a tweet by Elon Musk, translating into $276 million in deposits – i.e. free cash flow – and a potential $9.66 billion in sales. Headlines Sunday trumpeted $10 billion.
“Model 3 combines real world range, performance, safety and spaciousness into a premium sedan that only Tesla can build. Our most affordable car yet,” Tesla says, “with a five star safety rating, Model 3 will also be the safest car in its class.
Model 3 production is scheduled to begin in late 2017. “When production begins,” Tesla says, “we will begin deliveries in North America starting on the West Coast, moving east.” As production ramps up, Tesla will commence deliveries in European, Asia-Pacific, and right-hand drive markets.
‘Multiple Iterations and Economies of Scale’
Musk summarized Tesla’s strategy of starting with its low-volume high-priced, (Lotus-based) Roadster. Tesla sold just 500 Roadsters per year, “but it had a very leveraged effect.” Tesla graduated to the premium mid-volume Model S and still-developmental, 257-mile Model X SUV, before finally launching the Model 3 yesterday.
“It takes multiple iterations and economies of scale to make it great and affordable,” he said.
‘Final Element:’ the Gigafactory
Musk also showed recent pictures of the “Gigafactory” for batteries. “This is the final element,” he said, noting that the facility in Sparks, Nev., east of Reno, boasts the “biggest footprint of any building of any kind,” second in the world only to a Boeing factory outside Seattle. “It’ll produce more lithium ion batteries than all other factories in the world combined,” he said.
A Big Reason Why
And while the focus Thursday was on the fast and roomy, to-be-delivered-in-2017 Model 3, Musk also summarized the reason he’s vowed to change personal mobility to a workable, zero-emission baseline: the basic reason is climate change, and the fact, he said, that carbon dioxide, 403 parts per million as of March 2016, ishigher now than it’s been in 11 million years: “That was approximately when primates started walking upright.
“The world was very different. We do not want to return to that situation.”
“It’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport,” Musk said in unveiling the Model 3. “This is really important for the future of the world.”