Model 3 Will Have “Next Generation” Tesla Technology

JB Straubel at IHS CERAWeek in Houston

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: @chr1st1nab

Author: Steve Hanley

I write about technology, the environment and anything on wheels from my home in Rhode Island. My Miata and I team up for occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

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  • Taylor Marks

    “we don’t really need much more range;” – I feel mixed on this.

    I’m looking at the charger map, and it looks like there’s at least destination chargers available on all the road trips I imagine myself taking in the next few years, but I feel like if they could just bump the range high enough so I could take a 300 mile trip without charging, I’d really prefer that (not sure how much more I’d be willing to pay for that, but certainly I’d prefer it…)

    Trips beyond 300 miles, I’m probably going to be staying at a hotel, so I can just pick my hotel based on whoever has chargers available.

    • Robert

      if they sell model 3’s as predicted, that map will change drastically. chargers would most likely triple in a year or double at the very least

    • Max

      Thankfully, the company plans on expanding the network drastically. The plan is to nearly double the current amount of superchargers before the end of the year–while at the same time continuing to improve on battery technology as quickly as possible.

  • run2B

    I am totally stocked on the Model ≡. As a 3 year owner of Model S, I am confident that the Model ≡ will be incredible car with all the Tesla innovation. I plan on putting in my order on 3/31.

  • Wim De Schepper

    Hope they at least double there superchargers in Europe also.. For example in Belgium whe only have 3 and thats just sad

  • Wim De Schepper

    Hope they at least double there superchargers in Europe also.. For example in Belgium whe only have 3 and thats just sad

  • Max Pelletier

    I’m afraid April 1st online orders will be an april fool “joke”, just to measure demand. If they get 1 million+ online, they won’t be able to support demand, and it might take 3 years before you get your cars. (if they produce 100k in 2018, 250k in 2019, 500k in 2020)

    I’ll be at the store on the 31st so I’m in the first batch.

  • Martin

    I’d love to see a Super charger in Paducah KY, so we can make the trip from Nashville TN to Saint Louis MO. So far there is nothing, and very few Blink chargers.