The future is here, and it’s Tesla’s biggest make-or-break moment yet. The future, of course, is the Model 3 — the $35,000 compact premium EV that could legitimize the electric car once and for all, spell doom for the internal combustion engine, and make Tesla one of the largest players in the automotive industry.
Since the company’s meteoric rise after the launch of the 2012 Model S sedan, the company has sold itself as the next big thing. The Model S almost single-handedly established the foothold for EVs in the U.S. And along with the Model X, it has redefined what constitutes a luxury car or, for that matter, a performance car.
All along, the largest names in the industry have been scrambling to build a “Tesla-killer,” not because it poses much of a threat as is but because of what it could be. In the 15 or so months since the Model 3 was unveiled, nearly 500,000 people have put down a $1,000 deposit to buy the potentially historic car. By the end of 2018, company chief Elon Musk said the company could build as many as 200,000 Model 3s a year. That’s enough to keep any CEO in the business up at night.
If the Model 3 can deliver on its big promises, it could fundamentally change the way many of us drive and think about our cars. If it can’t, it’s set up to become one of the biggest flops in automotive history. We’ve come up with a list of everything you need to know about this much-hyped electric car.
1. It’s early for a Tesla
When it was unveiled on March 31, 2016, Musk announced early customers could expect delivery by summer 2017. That was taken with a big grain of salt, considering Tesla’s first car, the Roadster, was nine months late, the Model S was six months late, and the troublesome Model X was a full two years late. But with the first cars rolling off the line in July 2017, Musk and company are signaling they’ve got everything in order and are ready to play hardball.
Next: This Tesla won’t cost anywhere near six figures.