Auto Express, a british cars magazine, reports that following the (still not actually here) Model X, in 2017, Tesla will produce a Model 3 or Model III that will be a $35,000 electric sedan with a 200 mile range.
We should note that this is pretty vague right now. The pictures in that article are random imaginings of a random artist, nothing like what the Model III will actually look like. And Tesla’s plans call for Model IIIs to have batteries from a not-yet-off-the-ground battery plant. All in three years? Well, maybe.
The price is also vague. Is that $35,000 in the same way that the Model S is $55,000? Because a Model S is really about $70,000, up to $100,000 depending on options. Is the $35,000 inclusive of major subsidies like the US federal $7,500 subsidy, or exclusive of it? Tesla may well be playing it close to the chest because they don’t know, and want to have the freedom to have the car effectively cost $40,000+ if they can’t make the lower price point happen.
And remember, Model S fans: a downmarket Tesla won’t have all the bells and whistles of the Model S. That’s what it means to be a downmarket car.
Still, the concept of a $35k, 200 mile electric vehicle is a game changer. Even if it eventually costs $40k, that may still be a deal. Gasoline is expensive, and good money says it’s at least a little more expensive in 2017. If, as seems basically reasonable, you can get the cost to fuel a car down to $25 a month, and you’re comparing to even a pretty fuel efficient 30mpg vehicle, on the basis of (a low) 12k miles per year, the 30mpg vehicle uses 33 gallons of gasoline, times $4 per gallon is $125ish — you’re saving $100 per month, $1,200 per year. Over a five year vehicle life, that’s $6,000, and those are with some pretty conservative assumptions. There are a LOT of people who would find a $40k electric vehicle made sense for them.