Last week’s historic unveiling of Tesla’s Model 3 left auto lovers with a host of questions. Since then, some answers have been trickling out, mostly from the thumbs of Elon Musk, who’s been tweeting like a tree full of birds over the past few days.
Musk hopes to log 500,000 reservations before the “Part 2 unveiling.” He expects that the capacity of Tesla’s Fremont factory will soon be maxed out, requiring the company to build a new factory in Europe.
— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) April 7, 2016
The base Model 3 will do 0-60 in under 6 seconds, faster than competitors in the small luxury sedan segment, such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C Class. It will have a range of at least 215 miles, and Tesla is hoping to push that number upward before the first deliveries. There will be an option to upgrade to a bigger battery.
Rear-wheel drive is standard, and there will be an option for dual-motor all-wheel drive, which Musk says will cost less than $5,000. Like Model S, there will be an optional air suspension feature that can dynamically adjust ride height.
Exciting news for boaters: There will be an optional tow hitch.
Exciting news for vegans: There will be an optional vegan interior (no leather).
Not all features have been drawing applause. Jalopnik called attention to the rear storage opening, which is not a hatchback, but a sort of trunk with a vertical opening, reminiscent of some unloved older cars.
Tesla has said that Model 3 will have two trunks and more cargo space than any car of its size, and that the back seats will fold completely horizontal. Musk assures us that a 7-foot surfboard, or a bike, will fit.
However, the utility of cargo space isn’t just about cubic feet, but about accessibility. Loading large and/or heavy objects is no problem with a hatchback like the Model S (or the Toyota Prius), but it can be almost impossible with a sedan-style trunk. At least from the few pictures we’ve seen so far, Model 3 appears to have an awkward hybrid between trunk and hatch.
Musk explained the reason for the compromise: “Only way to get enough rear passenger headroom was to move the rear roof cross-car support beam thus no hatchback like S and X.” He also assures us that Tesla will address the problem: “Won’t be a hatchback, but we should be able to increase the opening width and height.” And later: “Aperture will be big enough for almost anything.”
@MThorpXXi We are working on enlarging the opening. Aperture will be big enough for almost anything.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 6, 2016