The Model 3 is garnering more attention these days, as the Model X hits its stride on the streets of California—looking good I might say—and a probable release date in early Fall. Next up is Model 3 discussion and most of it centers around possible battery sizes.
A recent article via Seeking Alpha speculated on this very topic and predicted three different battery variations for the mass market Model 3 electric car: 43.9 kWh, 65.7 and another performance-based 65.7. Respectively, the author estimates 220, 320 and 330-mile battery range for the Model 3 in rear and all-wheel drive formats.
Carlson is right on the versions. Musk said recently at the annual shareholders meeting that “the standard version of the car (model 3) would have a single motor but we would offer a dual-motor as an option.”
Some comments from Carlson’s post suggest that Tesla’s lack of an alpha design prototype at this stage is worrisome. However, Randy Carlson mentions that upgrades in cell chemistry upgrades and battery pack configuration are the key considerations at this point in the Model 3 design.
My guess, and it is exactly that, a guess, is that Tesla is looking at what battery performance they will get from Panasonic and their GigaFactory. Small changes in the Wh/kg of the battery impact the optimum size of the motors, brakes, suspension, even the structure of the car itself. Until battery performance is locked down, any design they make rests, in a sense, on quicksand.
Carlson also talks about the advantages of using the 20700 form factor battery cells “that are more compact and would remove battery modules from the front and back foot wells.” According to Carlson, Tesla designers could lower the floor by four inches and increase aerodynamics for the Model 3. Recent comments by Musk and JB Straubel suggest that 220 miles is the goal for the Model 3 base model.
Regular car buyers have fallen in love with all-wheel drive vehicles so it begs the question whether Musk and company can produce an inexpensive base version in this format?
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Tesla once offered a 40 kWh version of the Model S, but discontinued the model due to low demand. Could the same happen for a base version of the Model 3 and its single motor design? I doubt it due to the higher initial battery costs as the Gigafactory opens and with Model 3 production slated for 2017 (late) and 2018. (Freudian slip regarding Model 3 release date recently, eh?).
So it comes down Gigafactory cell buildout in the coming months and hopefully it dovetails nicely with the Model 3 design. According to Musk and Straubel, the Gigafactory is proceeding smoothly, so spring 2016 should be an exciting time for Model 3 speculation.