Elon Musk still seems to be riding the high coming off of the blowout Tesla Model 3 event on Thursday and has been throwing out insider tips on Twitter several times per day ever since. Today, he blew those little updates out of the water with a full Twitter-enabled question and answer session.
His earlier comments about only expecting 20–40 people to line up for the Model 3 stood in stark contrast to the hundreds that lined up at stores around the world, rain or shine. Zach and I were fortunate enough to land spots at what is arguably the Tesla store with the best weather — down in Santa Monica, California — and the line was moved a handful of times at the request of the city, was given free macaroon cookie sandwich bites by Tesla staff, and had a great time mingling with the other Tesla fans… but at the time, we knew nothing of the vehicle.
Now that we have seen it and what it can do out on the track, Elon is gracing us with some specifics around packages, specs, performance, and the like. Below is a summary of what he shared, with links to each tweet for full reference and context.
Tesla Factories and Service Centers
- Tesla Factory coming to Europe… eventually. No timing was shared, but Elon did share that, as demand increases, it will make sense to build a factory in Europe. It seems obvious, with Tesla having already established an assembly factory in Tilburg, that it would expand the existing facility or build a separate factory as demand (and battery production capacity from implied Gigafactory 2) continue to increase.
- Spain will finally get some Service Center love… or at least some approved mechanics this year. Elon said the problem “should” be addressed, which is understandably non-committal, but still a step in the right direction. It is absolutely imperative that Tesla keeps up the high level of customer service in all markets as it continues to scale. Seeing detailed responses like this should give customers (like me!) hope.
- Tesla will be in India before the Model 3 production launch.
- Supercharger status will be integrated into Nav. This would have helped me last night, as we hit a mostly dead Supercharger in Oxnard (more on that later) and has been in the works for a while now. As with many Tesla goodies, this will be delivered OTA.
- Tesla will use order volumes in planning Supercharger deployments. Fantastic news for anyone worried about putting in orders but not having any Tesla Supercharger and service center love in the area. This obviously doesn’t guarantee the guy up in northern British Columbia a Supercharger down the street, but fantastic that Tesla is sensing and responding to customers in yet another way.
- Superchargers are coming to Mexico, Italy, and Ireland later this year. Tesla has been focusing on core markets, but as it expands and adds new markets, Superchargers will also penetrate key geographies. Fun to see the continued expansion of Level 4 charging… we can all play!
All Wheel Drive (AWD)
- The Model 3s at the reveal were AWD… but not as fast as the production AWD Model 3 will be. This blows me away. The Model 3 at the event blew people’s socks off. Confirming that the production version will be faster a) doesn’t bode well for people with lead feet (like Zach!), b) almost certainly means the “P” performance line has a place in the Model 3 lineup, and c) is going to wow the masses who are as yet unfamiliar with the torquiness of electric vehicles.
- Model 3 will be available in both Rear Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive options. Great confirmation for the masses who preferred RWD for one reason or another.
- Elon shared in a separate tweet that the upgrade to the option formerly known as “D,” which has since been rebranded as All Wheel Drive option on the Model 3 will be less expensive than the AWD upgrade on the S and X.
- Elon spoke to how the car handles torque vectoring — which is essentially the instantaneous traction control that Tesla uses: “torque is shifted between front & rear motors every ~.01 secs. Traction control is way better than a normal AWD. Digital vs analog.”
- West Coast orders will only take priority for launch orders. It’s good to have this confirmed if only to set the expectation for future orders. Having been working off of a backlog since moving into production vehicles, Tesla knows how to prioritize, but Model 3 takes that to a whole new level. While I don’t think Twitter is the most effective way to communicate to customers, setting the expectation at all is a solid step in the right direction. Formal corporate communication continues to be an opportunity for Tesla.
- West Coast orders get priority to keep feedback loop and repair time for early issues to a minimum. The logic with which Tesla approaches production… and shares the details behind that logic… is awesome. So many times, I’m left saying, “Yeah, that does make sense. Cool.”
- Existing owners get priority because they “paid for the model 3.” Elon continues his stance on existing owners getting priority… which will help CleanTechnica and me get our hands on a Model 3 earlier rather than later. (Editor’s Note: woot!)
- Elon hinted very early on that there would be a part 2 of the Model 3 reveal and he reiterated that yesterday. I’m personally looking for fully autonomous driving across the fleet in the next 18 months or so… which will likely line up with the delivery of the first few Model 3s… much like Tesla did with the X.
- The federal tax rebate is a big question for many customers. The short story is that, when a manufacturer sends out the 200,000th sale to the US, the $7500 rebate drops to 50% for the first two quarters after the delivery of the 200,00th car… then to 25% of the credit for two more quarters… then it’s gone! Elon (jokingly) shared that they would consider delaying delivery of the 200,00th Tesla to maximize deliveries in the last quarter owners would be eligible for the rebate and, thus, extend the time for which buyers would be able to get the phaseout (aka better than nothing) credit.
- Elon tweeted very last minute about a “small gift” for folks who lined up to reserve a Model 3, but then later apologized for an underwhelming gift. At the Santa Monica store, they brought out a container of ~16 macaroon things. I was one of the lucky ones, but there definitely weren’t enough for the ~400 people (or more!) who lined up there over the course of the day. He updated this yesterday and shared that everyone who reserved will get a gift…but that those who lined up (like Zach and me, with 2 reservations each :D) will get an “extra gift.” More on this as it evolves, but it has me excited — though, I’m not all in yet; after all… round 1 was a cookie. 😀
- A vegan interior will be available. Elon bragged about the new vegan option in the Model X a few weeks back, even going so far as to state that the white vegan leather is the ‘best’ option and is more durable than it sounds.
- Air suspension will dynamically adjust. Much like the Model S and X, the air suspension will be able to dynamically adjust based on history, speed, and GPS location.
- Owners can opt in to a tow hitch. It won’t likely sport the 5,000 lb towing capacity of the Model X, but it’s great to have the option to hook up a trailer and tow a refrigerator across town.
- Matte black paint is in demand and will likely make it to production. One of the prototypes showed off at the reveal was matte black (which made taking pictures in the odd light extremely difficult!) and quite a few folks thought it was striking. Elon confirmed that there was solid demand for it and that it would likely become an option. Now you can get that murk’d out M3 straight from the factory.
- The sweet new rims at the reveal will be an option for the production M3. Tons of people loved the new style of the turbine rims on the M3 and Elon confirmed that those were a specific point of focus and that they would make it to production. I’m sure that rims are a profit center for Tesla, as they are a $5,000 option here in the US… not just a cheap bolt-on, that’s for sure.
- Model 3 will have enough room for tall folks — specifically, up to 6′ 5″. This is a common concern for tall people in smaller cars and it’s great to get clarity on it sooner rather than later.
- Rear seats will fold down. This is one of the key benefits of a hatchback, and I know many potential buyers are excited that this has been confirmed. I’m not shy about sharing that I slept for a bit in the back of my Model S on my epic road trip from Ohio back to California. It was especially nice being able to keep the climate control on while charging… and catching a nap.
- Bikes will be able to fit in the car… or at least a bike. Interesting that he can comment on this with such specificity as it’s definitely a niche use case. I would expect that a bevy of compatible racks are already available or will be available as well for folks who want to bring the family and the bikes. 🙂
- Steering wheel at the reveal is not the production steering wheel. We talked about this with the guys from EVannex and they shared that it was an odd kidney shape, which prompted some speculation. It’s exciting to hear that the “steering system” that was on display is not the final version. Yet another piece of the puzzle that all seems to amount to a vehicle primarily intended for use as a fully autonomous vehicle.
- In addition to just a different steering wheel shape, the new steering system “feels like a space ship.” Coming from a guy who builds rockets in his spare time, that’s a pretty sweet statement. Again, one more piece of the autonomous drive future of the Model 3, if you ask me.
- 2 or 3 child safety seats will fit in the back. We can be thankful that Elon has 5 kids for this one. He continues to be extremely conscious of the challenges parents face with vehicles, and builds cars with parents in mind. Granted, this is not mind blowing, and may even be required, but still good to see that Tesla is always trying to maximize the car, as evidenced by the possibility of 3 safety seats in the rear.
- Tesla is targeting a drag coefficient of .21, which is insanely low! This will drive overall efficiency up — especially at highway speeds, where wind resistance becomes an increasingly large factor.
- One commenter mentioned that the peeps over at Tesla Motors Club forums had some suggestions on the nose of the Model 3, and Elon responded, asking for a link. So, great to see an engaged CEO who’s changing the game but still makes time to reach out to answer questions and to take in suggestions… as if Tesla didn’t have enough going on already. It seems like a natural fit with the continuous improvement culture of Tesla, with around 20 changes/improvements being made on the cars every week!
- Beyond taking input on the nose, Tesla was already not set on the design and will continue to refine it. They just showed off their new baby and are already taking it in for a nose job. Sheesh… haha.
- Model 3 will fit well in narrow garages. Elon shared that it would fit in garages less than 8′ wide, though it wasn’t clear if this would be with summon or with a human at the wheel. Either way, it’s a solid confirmation for many users with narrow parking spots/garages looking to get on board with Team Tesla with a Model 3.
- Ever the perfectionists, Tesla will continue to refine the exterior. Similar to the iterations of the Model S and Model X, we saw differences/improvements in the exterior design in the production version vs the launch vehicle. No big surprise, but now it has been confirmed.
Congratulations for making it through the barrage of updates. We tried to pull it all together for you and, thankfully, he had a ton to share. 🙂 Elon couldn’t stick to the facts and just had to let some of his excitement bubble over as well before signing off for the day….
And, of course, it will have more cowbells.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2016
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