Tesla Finally Sets Date for Affordable Model 3 Debut

Source: Tesla
Source: Tesla

The Roadster was cool, but when Tesla released the Model S, people really started to pay attention. The Model X crossover SUV is slated to be released this summer, but people are already looking forward to Tesla’s most important model – the Model 3. It looks like they’re going to have to wait a little longer, though, because it will be coming next March and likely won’t be on sale until 2017.

Even though people are excited about the Model 3, launching the Model X as a followup to the Model S makes sense. Crossover SUVs are popular, especially luxury crossovers, and people are willing to pay a premium to drive them. It’s been surprising how popular the Model S has been as a newcomer to the industry, with buyers often paying $75,000 or more to own one.

The Model X will likely be less expensive than the Model S, making it accessible to more buyers, but being a crossover, it also has the potential to appeal to more buyers. If Tesla manages to build the Model X as well as it built the Model S, you can expect sales of Tesla’s crossover to dwarf its sports sedan. The influx of cash from all those Model X sales will be great for Tesla as a company.

While the Model X is an important next step for Tesla and one that will likely earn the company quite a bit of cash, it’s the Model 3 that’s going to be the most important Tesla of all. With an expected starting price close to $35,000, the Model 3 will not only be the most affordable Tesla to date, but it’s the first Tesla that normal people will be able to afford. It’s only a few thousand dollars more than the average transaction price of a new car, so even though it’s still a significant amount of money, it’s still within reach of anyone who might be interested in a BMW 3 Series or a loaded Honda Accord.

model x
Source: Tesla

With a price tag that’s low enough for many more households to afford, the Tesla Model 3 is going to answer a lot of questions about just how viable electric cars truly are, and it’s also going to answer questions about how legitimate of a company Tesla is. Even though it’s found a lot of success initially, Tesla is still selling the idea that electric cars could maybe change the world and become commonplace. It’s selling a product and making money while doing so, but at least for now, Tesla is less of a company and more of an idea.

When the Model X goes on sale, Tesla is going to have to be able to produce a lot more cars in a year than the 15,000 or 20,000 it has been. It’s going to have to show that it can provide parts and warranty work for many more vehicles. If Tesla can make it through the launch of the Model 3 and show that it hasn’t over-extended itself, it will be impossible to ignore the fact that there’s another American car manufacturer on the scene.

As frustrating as it may be for people who want to buy the Model 3 to have to wait until 2017 to get theirs, releasing it any earlier would step on the toes of the Model X, which needs to be given its own chance to sell. Elon Musk is one of the few people who has been able to successfully start a new car company in the United States, and despite his eccentric nature, he’s a smart businessman. He’s making calculated decisions to not only wait until new models are 100% ready before introducing them, but also making sure each model has time to sell and make a name for itself before introducing the new one.

If the Model 3 is what you want, though, and the Model X just won’t do, at least you only have to wait until March to find out what it will look like. Then you’ll have a whole year to save up your $35,000.

Check out Autos Cheat Sheet on Facebook
Follow Collin on Twitter @CS_CollinW