Tesla model 3 rolls out

July 12, 2017 | 01:36
Tesla model 3 rolls out
Tesla model 3 rolls out
This week the first of Tesla’s ‘affordable’ model 3 electric automobiles rolled off the production line. It is an important milestone for the company and one on which the future of the company may depend. The prototype was revealed over a year ago, but now it's getting serious.

Within a matter of days after opening a pre-order reservation list last year 300,000 eager customers parted with a $1000 down payment to reserve their place in the queue. The model 3 is priced squarely at the mass market and for Tesla this is new territory for a company who up till now has been producing high-end vehicles in relatively small numbers. Considering around 84,000 cars were sold in total in 2016, a step up in production to 500,000 units will be more of a challenge because vehicle production does not scale up linearly.

There are also more things to take into account in addition to ramping up production. An important consideration is the existing charging infrastructure to support the growing number of electric vehicles although this is less likely to be a problem as vehicle range improves. The model 3 for example has a quoted range of over 200 miles which in most cases will be adequate for the daily commute to the workplace from a single overnight charge. On longer journeys, unless the charging-point infrastructure is rapidly improved, owners of top-of-the-range Teslas may soon find themselves waiting to charge at the end of a long queue of model 3s.

Also a threat to Tesla comes in the shape of rival vehicles with similar specs. The Chevrolet Bolt is just such a contender, priced competitively and from a manufacturer with long experience of mass production. In the next few years we can also expect to see models from Ford along with European, Japanese, Korean, and most likely Chinese car makers offering a range of vehicle types including top-end luxury models. It should be interesting...

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