India-bound Tesla Model 3 Launched, Pre-Orders Begin at $1,000

Model 3 is Tesla’s long-promised affordable electric car and there were hundreds of people lining up to reserve one.

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Car and Bike
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Model 3 doesn’t go on sale until late 2017, but potential buyers could reserve one with a $1,000 deposit at Tesla stores starting Thursday morning. (Photo Courtesy: Tesla.com)

Elon Musk just made his Indian fans happy. Very happy. He has announced that his electric car company, Tesla, will enter the Indian market with the recently launched Model 3.

Model 3 is Tesla’s long-promised affordable electric car and there were hundreds of people lining up to reserve one at its reveal event in Los Angeles on 31 March, 2016.

Musk said the model 3, with a minimum range of 344 kilometres per charge, would go into production in 2017 and that 1.15 lakh pre-orders had already been taken.

Musk announced his India foray in a tweet which also announced Tesla’s expansion plans into Brazil, South Africa (Musk’s native country), South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland.

If you’re wondering whether the Model 3 will be successful in India, then according to Elon Musk, there is an India-wide supercharger network coming our way as well.

Model 3 doesn’t go on sale until late 2017, but potential buyers could reserve one with a $1,000 deposit at Tesla stores.

Long lines, reminiscent of the crowds at Apple stores for early models of the iPhone, were reported from Hong Kong to Austin, Texas, to Washington.

At a starting price of $35,000 — before federal and state government incentives — the Model 3 is less than half the cost of Tesla’s previous models. The car is expected to have a range of at least 320 kilometres when fully charged, about double what drivers get from competitors in its price range, such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.

The Model 3 is the most serious test yet of 13-year-old Tesla’s ability to go from a niche player to a full-fledged automaker. It could be the car that finally makes electrics mainstream — or customers could be scared off by Tesla’s limited number of stores, chargers and service centres. Either way, the Model 3 is already changing the industry, spurring competitors to speed development of electric cars and improve their battery range.

Right now, Tesla sells two vehicles: The Model S sedan, which starts at $71,000, and the Model X SUV, which starts around $80,000. But a lower-priced car has been a longtime goal of Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk. In a 2006 blog post, Musk said Tesla planned to build “a wide range of models, including affordably priced family cars” in order to speed the world towards a solar-powered future.

Musk at the Model 3 reveal event.
Musk at the Model 3 reveal event.

Here’s What We Know About the Model 3

1. When will it go on sale?
Tesla has said it expects to start Model 3 production at its Fremont, California, factory at the end of 2017. But the company has a history of delays. The Model X, which went on sale last fall, was initially due to go on sale in early 2014. Musk said last month that the Model 3, unlike the Model X, is designed for “ease of manufacturing.” Still, some analysts are doubtful. Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas thinks Tesla won’t start building the Model 3 until the end of 2018.

2. Who are its competitors?
General Motors is set to start selling the electric car Chevrolet Bolt at the end of this year, a full year before the Model 3. The Bolt will have a similar price tag and a 320-kilometre range. Hyundai’s Ioniq, which has a 176-kilometre electric range and could match Tesla on price, goes on sale this fall. Audi will follow with an electric SUV in 2018. Musk said last month he’s not worried. He thinks the Model 3 will compete most directly with small luxury cars like the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series.

3. How did Tesla make the Model 3 less expensive?
Cheaper batteries. Tesla previously assembled its battery packs with battery cells made in Japan by Panasonic Corp. But Tesla and Panasonic are building a massive, $5 billion factory in Nevada which will supply batteries for the Model 3. Tesla says the scale of the factory will lower the cost of its battery packs by 30 percent.

(With AP inputs)

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