With the official introduction of the Model 3 just a month away, Tesla CTO JB Straubel had some things to say about the car last week at the IHS Energy CERAWeek event in Houston. No, he didn’t reveal any information about what it might look like, but he did it say it will feature the “next generation” of Tesla technology. The Model 3 is scheduled to begin production in late 2017 and list for $35,000 before incentives.
According to Houston Chronicle, Straubel said the focus for the Model 3 is on lowering component costs and boosting volumes. “We don’t really need more performance; we don’t really need much more range; we need to focus on cost.” He said the car is comparable in size to an Audi A4. “I think it will surprise people with the level of features it includes,” he said and added that Tesla’s reputation for constant innovation will continue with the Model 3.
One avenue Tesla does not plan to pursue is hydrogen fuel cell technology. Straubel said “fundamental problems” remain with hydrogen as a fuel source. In particular, limited infrastructure inhibits it from being sustainable and cost efficient.
On the other hand, the lithium which is used in Tesla’s battery packs is abundant and could even be extracted from sea water in the future, he said. Overall, battery costs are declining through advances in manufacturing. Lower costs will lead to significant improvements in the amount of electrical energy that can be stored and to building batteries on a larger scale.
Straubel indicated that electric motor costs are also declining. “Basically, every single part of that electric vehicle ecosystem is dropping substantially, he said.
He reminded his audience that when Tesla first began selling the Model S, industry observers thought demand for the car would top out at 3,000 cars. “We’re selling tens of thousands of cars per year,” Straubel said. Once the Model 3 joins the Model S and Model X, Tesla claims it will be selling hundreds of thousands of cars a year.
Excitement is high over the coming reveal of the Model 3. Some think Tesla stores will have lines of people waiting to reserve one on March 31. Online sales won’t begin until April 1, so people who want a low reservation number will need to visit a Tesla store to get one. The reservation fee for the Model 3 is a very modest $1,000 and is fully refundable.
Photo credit: Twitter: @b