Could electric cars be on the verge of going mainstream? Elon Musk certainly thinks so. And the head of technology firm Tesla may actually have some grounds for believing it, judging by the reaction to the release of his company’s latest model.
The Tesla Model 3, announced last month, is already set to be the best-selling all-electric car ever. With the basic version expected to retail at £24,423 ($35,000), the company claims that 300,000 have already been pre-ordered. Musk claims that they’ll be capable of delivering up to 500,000 models a year once production is at full capacity.
It’s expected to have a range of at least 215 miles (346km) per charge and it should power up quicker than ever too via the ‘supercharging’ standard where it’s available – that’s nine hours for a full charge, or just one hour to get the 60kWh li-ion battery to 80 per cent capacity. The number of supercharging spaces should double to 7,200 around the world by the end of 2017, perhaps not coincidentally, around the time when the first Model 3s are expected to be delivered.
The base model claims to be able to hit 0-60mph in six seconds, which is pretty impressive too, and all the new models will include the ‘autopilot’ safety features from existing models, which allow the cars to steer themselves and (in theory) avoid any collisions.
Most of Tesla’s 50,580 sales last year were for its Model S saloon, which overtook the Nissan Leaf to become the world’s best-selling pure-electric vehicle. That’s also well ahead of other ‘affordable’ electric cars like the BMW i3, Volkswagen E-Golf SE and Renault ZOE. There’s also the much-anticipated Chevrolet Bolt, expected to sell for around the same as the Model 3 but which should be with us sooner, possibly by the end of this year.
There’s still a way to go, but the successful reception of the Tesla Model 3 is only likely to encourage further developments both in electric cars and the infrastructure to support them. We’re clearly seeing something of a trend, but while the hyper expensive models may demonstrate the technology, like this race between a Tesla Model S and a Boeing 737, the concept will only be a success when the day arrives when it can be taken up by virtually everyone. The Tesla Model 3 looks to be bringing that day just a little closer.