Electric Dreams

140721 auto photo

Electric car maker, Tesla Motors, took to Twitter to confirm its third car – and it might just change motoring forever, says Isaac Bober – Editor – Practical Motoring.

With just one tweet Tesla Motors founder and CEO, Elon Musk sounded the death knell on the internal combustion engine. The tweet read: “Confirmed: Our Gen III car, due out after Model X, will be named Model 3”. Boom. Or maybe Zap.

How’d that tweet do that? Simple, by announcing the arrival of the Model 3 (around 20% smaller than the Model S and so comparable in size to a BMW 3-Series), which he’d really hoped to call the Model E, Tesla and Musk took the electric car from being the fringe dweller of the automotive world to being the most feared new car arrival in all of motoringdom. And the reason for that is simply because the thing will be priced from US$35,000 (and probably the same in Australia when it goes on-sale in 2017, it’ll be revealed in 2016) with a range of 320km from a single charge.

So, why is this a big deal and how can I say it’s the beginning of the end for cars as we know them? Simple, price and range of the thing. See, until now, electric cars have sat around on the fringe of motoringdom with just about every single car maker offering something with either a pure electric drivetrain or a plug-in hybrid electric set-up, and some offer both, like Mitsusbishi with its i-MiEV (electric) and the Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric). But, until Tesla Motors came along, most electric cars offered a range of less than 100km. And that’s pathetic.

And they also cost an arm and two legs to buy and, so, no-one bought them. But a recent survey of UK luxury car owners revealed that more than 40% of them would buy an electric car if it could go close to matching the price and range of their current car. The new Tesla Model 3 does that.

Then there’s the reduced cost of running an EV. For instance, according to a study by the Victorian Department of Transport, battery EVs incur an equivalent fuel cost of around $0.03 per kilometre, whereas a ‘normal’ car (internal combustion engine) costs more than $0.10 per kilometre. An EV is also estimated to cost around 70% less than an ICE to maintain. EVs also cost less to ‘fuel’ – charging in off-peak times can cost only a few dollars.

More than that, though, the adoption of electric vehicles in Australia will require no work to our electricity grid, with the suggestion that around 500,000 electric vehicles could be charged in off-peak times and cause no significant load on the grid.

Back to the Tesla Model 3. As I mentioned, Musk had wanted to call it the Model E. Why? Well, he says it’s because Tesla already had the Model S and the Model X (an SUV launching in 2015) and wanted to launch the Model E to spell S-E-X. However, Ford had already registered that name and would sue the brand if it tried to use it

So, does an electric car that looks as good as Tesla models do sound appealing? It does to me. What about you? See you in the comments.


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