2017 Tesla Model 3: Pre-Introduction
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
The Buying Process Has Begun
We're doing something different. We have not yet taken delivery of what will be a 2017 Tesla Model 3 sedan, but the pre-ownership experience has just passed a critical milestone and we thought you'd want to follow along. As you can see, we have recently received an invitation to configure our Tesla Model 3 and begin the actual buying process.
It's hard to imagine a more anticipated car than the Tesla Model 3 sedan. This is the affordable $35,000 electric car that Tesla has been building up to since the carmaker has existed. And it's no overstatement to say this is the car that will ultimately make or break the company.
The Model 3 sedan shares nothing with the Model S and the Model X that came before it. It's much less expensive and it rides on a smaller platform, but it does share the same basic rear-drive layout concept that can be sold in all-wheel-drive form with the addition of a second electric motor.
On the technical side, the biggest Model 3 difference is the electric motor itself. In an unexpected departure from previous Tesla products, the Model 3 will use a permanent magnet motor instead of an induction motor, the very type that was pioneered by Nikola Tesla himself. What that means and how that manifests itself will be one of many things we delve into when we finally take ownership of our long-awaited long-term Tesla Model 3 sedan.
We barely knew any of this when the process of buying our Model 3 began before sunrise on March 31, 2016, the day the waiting list opened. I got in line at my local Tesla dealer at 4 a.m. that day to get an early crack at putting down a $1,000 deposit and hopefully secure a good place on the reservation list. The same thing was happening in more than a hundred other locations around the globe, too, so getting up early seemed especially necessary.
I even considered lining up with five die-hards I met the night before at 7 p.m., but thought better of it. My price for a partial night's sleep? Twenty-six places in my local line.
Instead of being No. 6, I was given No. 32 when they started handing out numbers and began moving the front part of the line off the sidewalk and up toward the building after the sun came up.
This was a calculated move. It had been announced that current Tesla owners were going to get some unspecified level of priority, so I figured we'd recover most of those places. After all, we'd already bought a 2013 Tesla Model S, driven it for 30,000 miles, written about it extensively, and sold it. Furthermore, as I stood there on that frosty March morning, another Edmunds staffer was preparing to head north to Fremont, California, to take delivery of our then-new 2016 Tesla Model X long-term test car the very same day.
Interestingly, we've since driven our 2016 Tesla Model X over 25,000 miles and put it up for sale on eBay. The decision to sell it was not brought about by the invitation to configure our Model 3, but it is notable that 20 months of eventful Model X ownership have come and gone since I first stood in line for this Model 3.
That line had grown very long indeed as the first of us were formalizing our reservations with a major credit card. There were still at least 300 people strung out along the curb by the time I walked back to my car and drove home at 11 a.m.
But my long day wasn't over. After going home to grab some shut-eye, I put on my media hat and prepared to attend the Model 3 reservation launch party at Tesla's design HQ in Hawthorne, California, that same night. Only then did the magnitude of Tesla Model 3 mania really sink in. The actual car was revealed before many hundreds of people, and I actually got to ride in one of the prototypes.
We've been in the middle of this for nearly two years. Will it be worth the wait? We'll soon know. But the purchase process isn't yet complete. Now that we've opened this channel, we'll keep it topped up with regular updates. We'll tell you how we configured the one we ordered, how much it'll cost us and when it will be delivered. And when it finally arrives, we'll mark the occasion with a full long-term introduction, complete with photos of our very own 2017 Tesla Model 3 sedan.
Edmunds is in the process of purchasing this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.