Tesla Motors Inc reached a milestone when it unveiled the mass market Model 3 on Thursday. At the event, Elon Musk told us he believes it’s important that the world accelerates the transition to EVs and with the Model 3, he has proven again that electric cars are here to stay. The Model 3 looks like it will be everything you would have expected from Tesla – and then some more. The Model 3 will get at least 215 miles on a single charge, Supercharger is standard, Autopilot ready, seats 5 comfortably, and it is distinctively Tesla in styling.
With the Roadster, Tesla showed that EVs could be sexy and offer performance. The Model S showed that EVs could compete with sedans and the Model S has the best ratings in the history of sedans until date. The Model X took the battle to SUVs and car with its stylish falcon wing doors is already giving EVs a run for their money. Now, the Model 3 is taking EVs to the mass market and it seems that Elon Musk’s Master Plan for replacing ICEs with EVs is working out.
Let’s take a trip down Tesla’s memory lane:
An ambitious Master Plan
In 2006, Elon Musk revealed his secret master plan for Tesla – the plan was simple in its wording but it was ambitious in what it aimed to achieve. The target was to hasten the transition from a “mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy” that is green and sustainable. Elon Musk says, “the strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.”
The compressed version of the master plan says;
- “Build sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options”
The Roadster was fast and furious
In 2008, the Tesla Roadster hit the roads. It was the first highway capable production electric car and Tesla surprised us by making sure that the Roadster was “designed to beat a gasoline sports car like a Porsche or Ferrari in a head to head showdown”. It started with a 245 miles range on a single charge (later upgrades made 400 miles possible) it reached 0.60 in 3.7 seconds, and it was twice as energy efficient as a Prius.
Tesla has stopped producing the Roadster, but the 2,400 units that it produced were sold out in record time. Tesla has never been able to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of its cars; but there may be a Roadster Reloaded before the end of the decade.
The Tesla factory showed serious intent
In 2010, Tesla revealed its high-tech 5.3 million square foot factory in Fremont California. The factory removed the need to outsource the key parts of the production chain in order to ensure quality control. Tesla says its factory has the capacity to provide 500,000 cars annually. Tesla’s current bodyline includes 580 robots that can rivet, weld, and glue the Model X body chassis. Tesla also has a general assembly line that houses two of the largest industrial robots to hasten the production process of cars and improve ramp.
Here comes the Model S
In 2012, the Model S from Tesla Motors made its debut in the auto market. The car is the safest production car, it made Consumer Reports recalibrate its ratings, and it obtained a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA among other awards.
The Model S has the fastest acceleration for any sedan ever, it can go 300 miles on a charge, and there’s an AWD version of the sedan. The car is dominating the luxury sedan market and it has only been outsold by the Mercedes Benz S-Class.
Vibrant Supercharger network
One of the biggest hurdles that electric cars had to cross was the range anxiety about keeping EVs juiced up enough to be reliable for long distance trips in addition to being a daily driver. Tesla’s solution was a vibrant supercharger network that allows drivers to charge up their car up within 30 minutes. The Superchargers were strategic points on major road corridors and the best part was that Tesla drivers can use the Superchargers for free.
Tesla Motors had grown its supercharger network to 613 Superchager stations with about 3,628 superchargers. During the Model 3 unveiling yesterday, Musk promised that Tesla would increase the Supercharger network to 1,200 stations and 7,000 chargers globally by the end of 2017. A vibrant Supercharger network provides value buyers with more bang for their buck because it is akin to General Motors owning gas stations and offering people free gas.
Tesla built an Autopilot program that makes driving easier, more enjoyable, and more convenient for Tesla owners. Autopilot is the best driver assistance system in the market right now and it offers self-driving on highways, parallel parking, assistant braking, lane-change, cruise control, and collision avoidance among other things.
In 2014, Tesla decided to make Autopilot a standard feature of its cars instead of making it an option. In 2015, the firm sent the first version of Autopilot to users through an over-the-air software update. The Summon feature of the Autopilot now allows drivers to call out their cars from the garage through a software app and the plan is that drivers will be able to Summon their cars from anywhere in the country.
The best thing about Autopilot is its smart AI network that makes the entire fleet of Tesla cars to display incredible machine-learning capabilities. If Autopilot makes a mistake (let’s say the lane markers are not clear) and a driver takes over from the car, Autopilot system learns the correction and all other Tesla cars will take heed when faced with a similar situation at a later date.
Model X challenges SUV titleholders
Last year, Tesla began delivering the Model S SUV to buyers after the firm has taken buyers through a series of delays and disappointments. The Model X is according to Elon Musk, a difficult car to build and it aims to be the safest, quickest, and most rugged SUV on the road.
The Model X can seat 7 adults comfortable in addition to stashing all of their gear. It can go from zero to 60 miles in 3.2 seconds and it has a bioweapons defense system in case homeland is assailed by anthrax or other deadly bioweapons.
The story of Tesla Motors won’t be complete without mentioning Tesla Energy – the division saddled with the responsibility of propelling the transition into sustainable energy. Tesla Energy offers a Powerwall and Powerpack that can be used by utility firms, businesses, and homes to store energy. The products can be used as back up supplies and they can be used to save energy from solar panels when the sun is up for use later in the day when the sun is down.