As many of you may know, the Tesla Model 3 as been quite the success since it’s partial reveal late last week. Though many expected the Model 3 to be popular, quite a few people (including myself and apparently Elon Musk too) found the amount of popularity to be quite surprising.
Definitely going to need to rethink production planning...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 1, 2016
Now, the last official update on the number of reservation was given on Saturday, with worldwide total standing at roughly 276,000 reservations. Considering the rate at which the number is rising, I’m going to assume that by the middle (let us say Thursday) of this week that number will be over 350,000 reservations worldwide, which in my opinion is quite conservative. Considering that every reservation requires a (refundable) $1,000 deposit, Tesla will potentially have an extra $350,000,000 in its hands by Thursday. Using the average expected selling price of the Model 3, approximately $42,000 with a few options, provided by Mr. Musk himself, Tesla could potentially have a backlog of orders valued at roughly $15,000,000,000! This is all potentially just from a week’s worth of time on the market. Not too bad, if you ask me.
Now, it should be noted that these are just some educated projections, made using a few data analysis techniques. So there is some uncertainty surrounding the numbers above; the reality could be a lot higher or lower. And speaking of uncertainty, it should also be noted that all the reservations are 100% fully refundable. If, say, someone wanted to impress some friends, said person could potentially put up a $1,000 deposit to get the confirmation email, and then cancel the reservation. It is very possible that many will pullout as production time nears. That said, even assuming a 50% retention rate (which is very low), Tesla could still gross $7.5 billion!
Ok, enough about money and production numbers. Let us touch on how the Model 3, in it’s current state, stacks up against the competition. Without the tax incentive, the Model 3 is a direct competitor to the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class; the cars the hold up the German auto industry. Now considering the tax break that comes with electric cars, the price of a base Model 3 falls comfortable into the ultra high volume category, i.e. Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. However, the tax break only applied to certain number of cars produced, and it is expected that the incentive will not be available for much longer. This is why for the following comparisons the ultra high volume market will be excluded.
For comparison, I will be focusing on the BMW 320i, BMW 330i, and Mercedes C300. All are RWD, turbo-charged 4-cylinder sedans. All cost around the base Model 3 and in my opinion are nice cars. For clarification, the difference between the 320i and 330i is mainly performance; the 320i packs 180hp while the 330i packs 240hp. The C300 has 241hp and while no official figure was given for the Model 3, I expect base output to be equivalent to roughly 250hp.
First Year Worldwide Production
The figure above contains the worldwide first model year production numbers for the BMW 3-Series F30 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class W205, as well as an educated guess of the worldwide reservations for the Model 3 by this Thursday. Note that these are production numbers, not cars sold. As you can see, the Tesla Model 3 is not far off from it’s competitors.
The Figures above compare the 0-60mph performance of the 4 vehicles, while the figure below compares the starting prices. Performance wise, the Model 3 is touted to hit 60mph in under 6 seconds and starts at $35,000. A 2016 BMW 320i and 330i hit 60mph in 7.1s and 5.8s respectively and start at $33,150 and $38,350 respectively. A 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300, RWD, hits 60mph in 6.2s and starts at $39,875.
Both the Germans come with some sort of infotainment screen, the BMW has a 6.5in and the Benz has an 8.4in. None of the German offerings come with navigation, active cruise control, or keyless entry standard. The BMW and Benz comes with halogens headlights standard. Real leather is an option for both.
The Model 3’s full list of standard features has not been detailed, yet, however Tesla is known to offer quite a lot standard in it’s cars. Leather will most likely be an optional extra, however a synthetic leather or nice cloth material will probably be standard. The Model 3 featured on the launch night had a nice 15in control screen in the cockpit. Whether that is standard is yet to be confirmed, however the screen is larger than any of the German offerings. Considering that limiting electricity use in electric cars is important, I would be very surprised if the Model 3 didn’t come with full LED lighting.
Every Model 3 comes with something called “Autopilot Safety” features. Now, this is some very clever wording to me. The “Autopilot” implies that the Model 3 will have some near autonomous features standard, however the “Safety” makes me question whether they will be controllable by the driver or function in the background to prevent accidents. Either way, none of the Germans offer anything near to this standard.
Now, do note that a lot of this article is based off educated assumptions. The Model 3 is at least 1.5 years away and there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding what the Model 3 will really be like when it first hits the road. That said, right now the Model 3 shaping up to be quite the car. Not only does it seem to outclass the competition, but it also has won over the hearts and wallets of many people.
Don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling that the Model 3 will be to the transportation industry what the iPhone was to the cell phone industry. Yes, that’s a very cliché statement to make, and I’m kicking myself for using it, but I honestly believe it is the best way to describe the Model 3. The Model 3 might be the most disruptive thing to hit the transportation sector since the Ford Model T.