Tesla has unveiled its much-awaited lowest-cost vehicle, Model 3 electric car.
The price of range of the five-seater should make the vehicle appeal to new sets of customers and could somehow boost interest in other electric vehicles.
Chief executive of the California-based company, Elon Musk said his goal is to produce about 500,000 vehicles a year once production at full speed. The company needs the vehicle to prove popular if it is to stay in business.
The proposed time schedule to start first delivering of the vehicle is Late 2017; however, it can be ordered in advance in dozens of countries, including UK, Ireland, Brazil, India, China and New Zealand.
The price for basic model will start at $35,000 (£24,423) and have a range of at least 215 miles (346km) per charge.
Tesla had earlier delivered 50,580 vehicles last year. Most of those were its Model S saloon, which overtook Nissan’s Leaf to become the world’s best selling pure-electric vehicle.
However, the firm experienced net loss of $889m (£620m) in 2015; partly because it spent over $718m on research and development over the period.
This left Tesla with cash reserves of $1.2bn, down from $1.9bn a year earlier.
“For a long time there had been questions about the long term viability of Tesla,” commented Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst at the car research site Edmunds.
“With niche products like the Model S and the Model X, it hasn’t been hitting any sales targets that would sustain its business.
“So, launching what it hopes will be high-volume vehicle is going to show if it can become a fully-fledged auto company that will succeed in the long-term rather than one that pumps out a few cool cars and then goes bust, as we’ve seen happen with other electric car start-ups such as Fisker.”
Pre-order excitement of Tesla Model 3 electric car
The usual scenes more commonly created when smartphone launched is demonstrated here. Hundreds of people queued outside Tesla stores in the US to try to secure one of the first Model 3s.
They had to pay a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car before they had even seen it. The company also began taking online orders an hour before its press event had begun.
At the end of his presentation, Mr Musk said that Tesla had already received more than 115,000 orders.
The move should help the firm head off competition from other forthcoming similarly-priced electric cars that will become available first, including General Motors’ Chevy Bolt and BYD’s Qin EV300.
Part of the incentive to commit early is that a $7,500 tax credit offered to US buyers is set to be pulled once the company has sold 200,000 vehicles in the country.
“If you look at the US auto market, the average purchase price is about $33,000, which is close to what the target for the Model 3 is,” said Ms Caldwell.
“So, it becomes less of that pie-in-the-sky dream car and something that the average person can actually afford.
“That’s why people are excited about it in non-traditional Tesla markets – places outside of San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles – and why we saw lines in places like Houston and Arizona.”
TESLA ELECTRIC CARS RIVALS
The following below electric cars rival Tesla model 3 electric car;
- Chevrolet Bolt
Price: $37,500 (£26,100) excluding tax credits.
Not available outside US at launch.
Range:More than 200 miles (322km) on a full charge.
Power source: 60kWh lithium-ion battery.
Takes nine hours to fully charge or one hour to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station
Available: Late 2016.
Price: $42,400 (£29,500) excluding tax credits.
£30,980 in the UK including VAT but excluding government grant.
Range: 80-100 miles (128km-159km) on a full charge – or up to 150 miles if using a petrol-based “range extender” add-on.
Power source: 22kWh lithium-ion battery.
Takes 3hrs 30mins to fully charge, or 30mins to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station.
Nissan Leaf SV
Price: $34,200 (£23,800) excl tax credits.
£29,490 in the UK including VAT but excluding government grant.
Range: 107-155 miles (172-249km) on a full charge.
Power source: 30kWh lithium-ion battery.
Takes six hours to fully charge, or 30mins to charge up to 80% at a fast-charger station.
Price: $57,500 (£40,020) excl tax credits.
£66,000 in the UK incl VAT but excluding government grant.
Range: 312 miles on a full charge.
Power source: Hydrogen – the two tanks can be refilled in five minutes at a refuelling station.
Volkswagen E-Golf SE
Price: $28,995(£20,185) excluding tax credits.
£31,650 in UK including VAT but excluding government grant.
Range: 83 miles (134km) on a full charge.
Battery: 24.2kWh lithium-ion battery.
Takes eight hours to fully charge, or four hours if using optional 7.2KWH quick-charger, and can be charged up to 80% in 30mins at a fast-charger station.
Renault Zoe i Dynamique Nav Rapid Charge
Price: £25,545 including battery or £20,545 excluding battery if opting for battery hire programme -both include VAT but exclude government grant.
Not available in US.
Range: 130 miles (209km) on a full charge.
Power source: 22kWh lithium-ion battery.
Takes four hours to fully charge, and can be charged to 80% in 30mins at a fast-charger station.
BYD Qin EV300
Price: 260,000 yuan ($40,300; £28,050) excluding subsidies.
No details yet about launch plans outside China
Range: 186 miles (300km) on a full charge.
Battery: 48 kWh lithium-ion battery.
Charging time unknown
Available: Details to be given at the Beijing Auto Show in April.
coined from BBC tech