One year ago, Kyle Field and I were in Los Angeles to see the unveiling of perhaps the most influential car in history. The introduction of the Tesla Model 3 seems as exciting today as it was a year ago — in some ways, a bit more exciting; and in some ways, a bit less exciting. I’ll chat more about that after the video, but the video is really the focus of the article.
The following video is an abridged version of the 20-minute video I published last year right after the Model 3 was unveiled. Kyle and I were in an insanely awesome position on Model 3 unveiling night. We didn’t get into a Model 3, but we were the only bloggers, journalists, videographers, or photographers standing along the test track as hundreds of people did ride in the 3.
We stood on the Tesla Model 3 test track for approximately 2 hours — moving from position to position in order to get the 3 from different angles and with different lighting. Kyle was taking pictures and I was recording. The lighting was tough, but all of that time left us with a lot of beauties, and I personally loved the lighting, music, and special effects that Tesla threw onto the track. I love the first half of the following video, and I definitely recommend watching the whole thing, but if you are strapped for time, I can say that I think clearer shots begin at 5:45 in.
For the past year, I have been planning to create an abridged version of the 20-minute video I published a year ago, since a number of people said that 20 minutes was too long of a video to watch. Additionally, there were several shots of the Model X in the first video, and some of the clips were not super useful. Realizing a year has passed and the Model 3 is nearly here, I decided to prioritize this video over dozens of others I am eager to edit and publish from four cleantech conferences and several cleantech company tours. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed editing and watching it yet again.
Back to the Model 3’s place in history: The Ford Model T is often considered the most important automobile in history. The Model 3 is widely compared to the Model T for its place in the EV revolution — the transition from a gasmobile-centered transportation system to an EV-centered transportation system. Since the Model T ushered in the entire automobile era (to some extent), you may wish to claim that the Model T gets to remain the Big Cheese. However, when you consider the humanity-threatening global climate crisis we are facing and the need to move from gasmobiles to zero-emissions cars, I think it’s fair to give more props to the “comparable” electric car that ushers in the electric car era — the Model 3. This shift is more monumental.
Here’s why the Model 3 is Chief Cheeto: Tesla’s entire mission has been to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport. Cofounder and CEO Elon Musk expected the company to fail as a business, but hoped Tesla would still be able to hasten this transition. To do so, Tesla really needed to make a mass-market EV that was more compelling and saw higher consumer demand than any comparably priced gasmobile. Naturally, Tesla had to start at the top of the market in order to get the technology out there, get economies of scale up, bring costs down, and have the potential to create such a mass-market EV, but the chief target for Tesla for over a decade has been to bring the mass-market Model 3 (originally intended to be named the Model E) to fruition. The Roadster, Model S, or Model X alone would not push Big Auto to produce compelling electric cars en masse. The Model 3 is what does that.
Some readers will surely want to claim that the Chevy Bolt, Renault ZOE, or Nissan LEAF is more akin to the Ford Model T, but that’s obviously complete nonsense. These vehicles were partly inspired by Tesla, especially the Bolt, as well as by government regulations and requirements. None of them have had or will have anywhere close to the consumer demand of the Tesla Model 3. Sure, wait till the final numbers are in to agree with me on this one, but I’d bet my home on it.
The Model 3 pulled in ~115,000 reservations ($1000 each) before it was even shown. We knew the base price ($35,000), that it would have at least 200 miles of range, and that it was a Tesla. Those numbers rose to nearly 400,000 within a few weeks of the unveiling. It has such high consumer demand for several reasons, some of which are not offered by the other electric models above (the Bolt, ZOE, and LEAF). Here are key factors based on our research and my presumptions:
◊ Access to a superfast-charging network that allows genuinely convenient travel across the United States, Europe, and some other regions.
◊ Tremendous performance, especially acceleration, for the price — will almost definitely be the quickest car in history at its price point.
◊ Tesla Autopilot.
◊ Over-the-air software updates that make the car better over time.
◊ Tesla’s high-tech reputation and the expectation of cool tech in the Model 3.
◊ Tesla’s moral compass and overall mission.
I noted above that the introduction of the Tesla Model 3 is in some ways a bit more exciting today than one year ago, while also a bit less exciting in other ways. Of course, the fact that the car had never been shown to the public before March 31st made that weekend an unreplicable experience that was supercharged with excitement. It was an amazing landmark in human history. That excitement has certainly worn off to some extent over the course of the past 12 months.
On the other hand, we have learned much more about the Model 3 and production is edging much closer. While not many people would bet on this happening, production could actually begin in approximately 3 months. As recent announcements have popped up in this regard, the actual production — the real introduction — of the Model 3 almost feels tangible. I can nearly taste it on my tongue. (Hmm, now I wonder if I will indeed lick the Model 3 and report back on the taste of the vehicle.) 😉
The approach of Model 3 production, the real Model 3 ownership experience, the Model 3 sales surge that will surely blow up the electric car market in the US and globally, the scrambling of automakers to respond to the Model 3, Model 3 robotaxis, and the wave of affordable Model 3 electric supercars that infiltrate the lives and minds of the mass market (wakening them to the electric future they don’t yet realize is coming), all make this car that much more real and make the experience more exciting.
I have been reading Getting Ready for Model 3 again — a book I hugely recommend you buy. As I’ve been reading it this week, it hit me that I feel like I really do need to start getting ready now! That is exciting. In some ways, that is definitely more exciting than seeing the car for the first time a year ago and loving it. It is time to start preparing for life with the Model 3.
Aside from the video above, below is the full 20-minute version (2nd video) and a wonderful interview on unveiling night with two of the three EV Annex cofounders right after they rode in the Model 3 (1st video):