A new report in Britain’s Autocar claims the Tesla Model III will have a range of 300 miles and performance equal to the vaunted BMW M3, which romps to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds. If Tesla can do all that in a $35,000 car, it will need to build a lot of new factories just to keep up with demand.
But before we get too excited, let’s keep in mind that range in other countries is measured according to standards that are far more generous than what the EPA uses. So that 300 mile range may be more like 250 or even less in the US. But it’s still significantly more than what Chevrolet says it will get with its upcoming Bolt electric car.Autocar also says the Model III will be revealed in March, 2016 at a dedicated Tesla event similar to the one for the Tesla PowerWall home battery storage system last spring and the most recent upgrades to the Model S last week. Previously, industry observers expected the unveiling to take place at next year’s Geneva auto show.
Let’s review what we know about the Model III. Chris Porritt, Tesla’s vice-president of engineering, previously told Autocar: “I expect there will be very little carry-over [from the Model S]. We’ve got to be cost-effective. We can’t use aluminium for all the [small car’s] components.” This suggests that the Model III will use mostly steel in its make-up, although many of its panels may be bonded rather than riveted a la the BMW i3.
Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen, says the Model III will boast more distinctive styling than the relatively conventional Model S. “We will become more experimental as we develop as a brand,” he said. “Our cars need to have some personality.”
We also know that Tesla is planning to offer the Model III in several body styles. It will probably debut as a sedan, followed by wagon and SUV versions. Single and dual motor models with a variety of batteries are expected. There are even reports that Tesla wants to build a pickup truck that uses the Model III platform.
Up until now, Tesla has been in competition with the world’s top luxury sedans — the Mercedes S Class, Lexus LS, BMW 7 series and Audi A8. The Model III will play in an entirely different segment of the market, one populated by the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, Jaguar XE and Mercedes C Class.
The Model III is expected to go on sale in early 2017, assuming there is an adequate supply of batteries available from the GigaFactory outside of Reno. Rumor has it that Tesla is currently ahead of schedule which is great news. Tesla made the world wait for the Model S (although most would say the wait was worth it). The Model X has been delayed several times. Tesla does many things well, but it needs to do a better job of getting new products to market on time and on budget.
If the Model III really can run with the M3, have anything like 300 miles of range and sell for $35,000, it is going to turn the auto business upside down.