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Published on June 13th, 2017 | by Zachary Shahan


20 Gasmobiles Tesla Model 3 Will Body Slam

June 13th, 2017 by  

It’s Tesla Model 3 Countdown Month (officially anointed by CleanTechnica today). We are diving into what you and we think would be fun to investigate, analyze, and muse about before Model 3 production begins in July.

Perhaps the most interesting big-picture view for 2016 and 2017 is what the Model 3 will do to competing models. Much of the attention gets put on competing electric cars, but the much bigger bite seems like it must come out of the gasmobile market.

The Model 3 is placed at the bottom of the premium sedan market. Of course, being a unique vehicle in a heavily undersupplied niche market, it competes with models well beyond the small premium sedan market, so definitely don’t consider this to be anything close to a comprehensive global competition summary — the Model 3 will be attracting people who would have otherwise bought a Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Mustang, Nissan LEAF, and BMW Z3 (me 20 years ago). But I think this is a decent list of gasmobiles (gasoline-powered cars) whose sales will be remarkably body slammed by the Model 3.

1. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is priced well below the Tesla Model 3, with a base price of $24,685, but make no mistake — the Model 3 is going to steal plenty of sales from Toyota’s flagship Prius lineup.

The Prius has been the reigning green car king for ages. Most of us can picture famous Hollywood celebrities being photographed getting in or out of a Prius because they wanted to do their bit to green their lifestyles. Sure, plenty of Prius drivers have migrated to the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, or another electric car, but plenty haven’t. Lack of interest in the sub-$60,000 plug-in options and an unwillingness or inability to plop down so much money for a Model S or X has left a large number of greenies settling for a Prius.

And it’s not only greenies — people who just want super fuel economy, who want a patriotic bulldog of a car that helps prevent oil wars, or who want “the latest tech” (but don’t want to face early adopter challenges) may feel compelled to graduate beyond a small-battery Prius and get a Tesla Model 3.

Aside from “affordable” price, a key with the Model 3 compared to other electric models is that Tesla has a vast and quickly growing Supercharger network. This makes long-distance travel just about as convenient as in a gasmobile.

Some people will still prefer the Prius for the interior/cargo space or because they are nervous about the “new tech” of EVs, or they will simply remain unaware of Tesla. But expect to see Prius sales continue their dip downward as the Model 3 rolls out.

Toyota Prius Tesla Model 3
Base Price $25,000 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $25,000 $27,750
0–60 mph (seconds) 10 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space (cu ft) 25 14
Length 179 185
Width 69 74
2016 USA Sales
Toyota Prius 136,632

2–4. BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, & 4 Series

The lower end of the BMW lineup is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cars consumers will stroll past on their way to buy a Tesla Model 3. Long regarded a sporty leader in innovation, BMW is sort of like Karl Malone before LeBron James came along. Sure, a legend, but…

In my article about the Tesla Model 3 vs BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, and 5 Series, as I think I pointed out, due to the Model 3’s quicker acceleration, lower cost, zero emissions, offer of energy independence, and eventual potential for use as a robotaxi, many people will decide to pass up a/another BMW and skip into a Tesla Model 3.

I only put the BMW 2 Series, 3, Series, and 4 Series in the subheading above, but I would note that I think the Model 3 will pull some 5 Series buyers away as well. Some BMW 5 Series buyers who may have felt the Tesla Model S was out of their budget now feel comfortable getting a Model 3. That said, the Model S probably competes much more with the 5 Series than the Model 3 does.

BMW 2 Series BMW 3 Series BMW 4 Series BMW 5 Series BMW i3 Tesla Model 3
Base Price $33,150 $33,450 $42,400 $51,200 $42,400 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $33,150 $33,450 $42,400 $51,200 $34,900 $27,750
0–60 mph 4.2 4.6 4.6 3.9 7.2 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 14 13 16 19 15 14
Length 175 179 183 195 157 185
Width 70 71.5 72 73.5 70 74
2016 USA Sales
BMW 2 Series 15,519
BMW 3 Series 70,458
BMW 4 Series 35,763
BMW 5 Series 32,408
BMW i3 7,625

5–7. Mercedes-Benz C300, C350e, AMG C43

If you’re going to look at BMW, you know Mercedes is in the cards as well. However, with Tesla and BMW having a bit more sport/spunk to them, and Mercedes catering a little more to a different demographic, I assume Mercedes will have a few fewer sales eaten by the Model 3 than BMW will lose. Even so, Mercedes is likely to get slammed.

In our comparison of the Tesla Model 3 vs Mercedes 300, 350e, & AMG C43, it was clear that the Model 3 won on price, performance, and even trunk+frunk space. The Model 3 is a few inches wider than each of these models as well, which might make parking slightly more difficult but probably also means more space and comfort for Model 3 passengers, especially if Tesla doesn’t include any door pockets or cupholders (just kidding). I’m sure Mercedes will offer some of its signature luxe seating and interior, but whether it even wins in that category is something we’ll have to wait to examine more carefully.

Why would anyone buy a Mercedes 300, 350e, or AMG C43 instead of a Tesla Model 3? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing lack of awareness will play a part in the decision for most buyers.

Mercedes 300 Mercedes 350e Mercedes AMG C43 Tesla Model 3
Base Price $39,500 $46,050 $52,000 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $39,500 $35,000 $52,000 $27,750
0–60 mph 6 5.8 4.6 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 13 12 13 14
Length 184.5 184.5 185 185
Width 71 72 71 74
2016 USA Sales
Mercedes C-Class 77,167
Mercedes CLA 25,792

8–12. Audi A3, A3 e-tron, A4, A5, S3

Naturally, the other big dog in the German premium sedan class is Audi. When looking at how the Tesla Model 3 compared to the Audi A3, A4, A5, & S3, I admitted that I was once “an Audi guy.” Though, the Audi models do no better than the BMW or Mercedes models, and teenagers today are surely more enthralled with the Tesla brand than the Audi brand.

The A3, A3 e-tron, A4, A5, and S3 are closer in price to the Model 3 than those BMW and Mercedes models above, but they also offer less acceleration and slightly less “prestige,” if you can and want to value that. Do these Audi models have anything significant that they actually offer compared to the Model 3? Again, I’d say they have one thing: broad awareness among the portion of the population that doesn’t know what Tesla is or what a Model 3 is.

But let’s also point out that Tesla is now moving ~100,000 Model S and Model X vehicles per year (globally) and has a target of ~250,000 Model 3 a year. Approximately 75,000 annual Audi A3, A4, and A5 sales a year in the US could get clobbered. Furthermore, Tesla wouldn’t need to steal all of them to tank Audi USA — if Tesla starts eating into them to a significant degree, Audi USA could crumble under its own weight and finish the job off to a significant extent. If I were an exec at Audi USA, all I can say is that I’d be looking closely at potential exit plans. Maybe I’m just a Tesla fanboy, though, so check in again in a year or two to see how the trend is developing.

Audi A3 Audi A3 e-tron Audi A4 Audi A5 Audi S3 Tesla Model 3
Base Price $31,000 $39,000 $35,000 $43,000 $43,000 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $31,000 $34,400 $35,000 $43,000 $43,000 $27,750
0–60 mph 6.6 7.6 6.1–7.1 5.7 4.7 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 12 14 13 9–12 10 14
Length 175.5 170 186 184 176 185
Width 70 70 72.5 72.5 77 74
2016 USA Sales
Audi A3 31,538
Audi A4 34,687
Audi A5 8,354

13–15. Acura ILX, TLX, RLX

Frankly, if BMW and Audi are screwed, you know Acura is screwed. It may be the first brand to feel the full brunt of a Tesla Model 3 body slam.

As I noted in my Tesla Model 3 vs Acura ILX, Acura TLX, & Acura RLX comparison piece, when I look at sales numbers like Acura’s and consider how these Acura models stack up to the Model 3, I start to wonder how brands like Acura will survive … or if they will survive. It will certainly take Acura/Honda a lot of time and work to catch up.

In any case, in case you aren’t getting bored yet, the key points are that the Tesla Model 3 will be quicker, cheaper, hotter, cooler, more autonomous, cleaner, and more “patriotic” (on multiple fronts) than what Acura has to offer in this class. What’s Acura’s response plan? “Hey, don’t you miss the smell of a gas station?” isn’t a particularly convincing sales pitch, imho.

Acura ILX Acura TLX Acura RLX Tesla Model 3
Base Price $27,990 $33,000 $54,450 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $27,990 $33,000 $54,450 $27,750
0–60 mph N/A N/A N/A 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 12 14 12–15 14
Length 182 191 196 185
Width 71 73 74 74
2016 USA Sales
Acura ILX Series 14,597
Acura TLX Series 37,156
Acura RLX Series 1,478

16–19. Lexus ES, IS, GS, CT Hybrid

Lexus? Should I even comment?

The Lexus ES, ES Hybrid, IS, GS, GS Hybrid, & CT Hybrid are … not the Tesla Model 3. Again, some suburban moms and dads may not know what a Tesla is. “Is it a bird? A plane? A centipede?” No, it’s a Lexus killer.

The potentially good news for Lexus is that Tesla attacks the performance and high-tech market segment more than the “luxurious Toyota” market segment. The bad news is that anyone trying to be green or “pragmatic” with a hybrid Lexus should know by now (or will know soon) that a Tesla Model 3 is much greener and much cooler.

Lexus — body slammed to unconsciousness? Not yet, but maybe by 2020. Let’s look at some numbers to see how poorly a handful of Lexus models compete and how many sales they have to lose:

Lexus ES Lexus ES Hybrid Lexus IS Lexus GS Lexus GS Hybrid Lexus CT Hybrid Tesla Model 3
Base Price $39,000 $42,000 $38,000 $46,000 $64,000 $31,000 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $39,000 $42,000 $38,000 $46,000 $64,000 $31,000 $27,750
0–60 mph (seconds) 7.1 8.1 6.9 7 5.6 9.8 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 15 12 11 14 13 14 14
Length 193 193 184 192 192 171 185
Width 72 72 71 72 72 70 74
2016 USA Sales
Lexus ES 58,299
Lexus IS 37,289
Lexus GS 14,878
Lexus CT 8,903

20. Jaguar XE

This is one model I didn’t tackle in previous comparison articles. Frankly, it’s already a rather niche car, but it’s also a beautiful, premium-class, fun car that is going to face the challenge of a cool new circus animal in the crowded arena.

The Jaguar XE is quite a beautiful car. I saw one on the street the other day and almost snapped a pic because of how it impressed me … and because I knew I could work it into this article. But when you take a closer look, I think you have to wonder, “Why go for 20th century tech when I can get a Tesla Model 3?” Aside from being cleaner and more high tech, the Model 3 is quicker, potentially much cheaper, and can be charged at home overnight while you sleep. You can skip the gas station and enjoy instant torque at every stop sign. You can enjoy safer transport thanks to certain autonomous driving features, and perhaps even let the car drive itself (if you choose that option). These are things that your average Jaguar buyer may not know or understand yet, but you can assume they’ll learn about these EV/Tesla benefits in the coming few years or so.

Jaguar XE Tesla Model 3
Base Price $35,725 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $35,725 $27,750
0–60 mph (seconds) 6 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space (cu ft) 16 14
Length 184 185
Width 82 74

Frankly, when you have a car that’s about to knock the socks off of models ranging from the Toyota Prius to the Jaguar XE precisely on their key selling points, you know you have a car that’s set to destroy the general order of things in the conventional auto market.

Other models that you think will be smoked by the Tesla Model 3 to a colossal degree? Drop them in the comments below.


  1. Tesla Model 3 Test Track Video (#CleanTechnica Exclusive From Unveiling Night, Abridged)
  2. Tesla Model 3 — Exclusive Test Track Photos
  3. Tesla Won (… Sort Of)
  4. What Goes On In The Minds Of Auto Execs?
  5. Tesla Model S = Most-Loved Car In America
  6. #1 Tesla Dominates Large Luxury Car Market In US (Updated Figures)
  7. Tesla Model S Names Best Overall Car By Consumer Reports. Again.
  8. My Tesla Model X 90D Test Drive — This SUV Blows Me Away! (Videos)
  9. How Does The Chevy Bolt Compare To The Tesla Model 3?
  10. 23–50% of Electric Car Drivers Plan to Get Tesla Model 3 Next (CleanTechnica Report)

Tesla Model 3 photos by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica. Other photos via automakers



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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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