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Tesla hits watershed moment with launch of mass market Model 3

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 31 March 2016

TESLA chief executive Elon Musk is poised to reveal his newest creation, the Model 3, at an event on Friday.

The car, costing US$35,000 (RM137,000) represents Tesla’s first electric vehicle aimed at price-conscious, mainstream consumers.

The Model 3 (below) represents the culmination of a years-long strategy by Musk to stimulate a huge shift in global car culture that emphasises sustainability.

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And how it fares is going to have a major impact on Tesla’s long-term future as a company – and the future of electric cars more broadly.

Musk laid out this vision in a blog post on Tesla’s website in 2006, saying: “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.”

The company focused first on high-end cars – the Tesla Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X – so the launch of the made for the masses Model 3 is significant.

Tesla’s new car is important in a very immediate sense because it offers Tesla a big chance at reversing some of the recent setbacks.

In October, Consumer Reports criticised the Model S for reliability problems, even though the same publication had otherwise issued a glowing review of the vehicle.

Meanwhile, Tesla sales may have been affected by low oil prices that could be suppressing demand for electric vehicles, even as internal production issues hindered the company’s supply.

The Model 3 could be Tesla’s opportunity to regain momentum. Although it won’t begin manufacturing until 2017, and other car makers such as Chevrolet and Hyundai are trying to beat Tesla to market with lower-cost electric vehicles of their own, Tesla will perform well if it can successfully produce a high-quality product for the average driver, The Washinton Post reports.

If it takes off, Tesla’s new car could also accelerate the spread of electric charging stations that would make electric vehicles of all kinds a more realistic alternative. And in that respect, the Model 3 could do for electric cars what the iPhone did for smartphones, igniting demand for a whole new class of technology.

Up until now, very little has been known about Tesla’s Model 3.

But a source speaking to motoring site Electrek has provided what it claims to be new details on the much-anticipated car.

The source claims that the Model 3 will be able to go from 0-100km/h in under four seconds and have range options reaching more than 500km.

“The biggest news: According to a source who has seen the design that will be shown off tomorrow, it looks like a smaller hybrid of the Model X and S,’ the website writes.

The source said that the car is a slightly taller sedan with a unique front that looks more like a Model X.

But, according to the rumours, the car is shorter and narrower than either the Model X or S.

“The person who saw it said that they didn’t like the look of the X initially and only came around to liking it when the Falcon Wing doors were exhibited,” Seth Weintraub at Electrek writes.

Yesterday, Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted his excitement about the launch, posting a CNBC poll that showed 55 percent of people would put a $US1,000 deposit on Tesla Model 3, and go through with buying it.

‘Looks like we may need to increase production plans for the Model 3,’ he wrote.

Musk believes it will help Tesla deliver 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020, turning around the company.

Tesla faces direct competition from the soon to be released 320km-range Chevrolet Bolt, which will have a one-year head start on the Model 3 in getting the attention of consumers looking for a moderately priced EV.