Tesla Model 3 Sedan, Coming This March

Entry-level electric sedan shrouded in conjecture. Here’s what we think we know.

Tesla Model 3
Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla is hosting an event in March to reveal its Model 3, the entry-level sedan that will be the gauge of the company’s near-term fortunes. Even the infinite Internet is having trouble containing the feral conjecture around the car and the event, such as Electrek reporting on January 28 that the Model Y crossover would bow at the sam March shindig, because Models Y and 3 share the same platform. Tesla stomped on that rumor the same day, calling it, “wrong.” We should have learned by now: When it comes The House of Musk, you can’t be certain of anything until you’ve taken delivery.

So what do we know about the Model 3? Little, but let’s gather the scuttlebutt in one place. It will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S, making it about the size of a BMW 3 Series. The entry-level two-wheel-drive car is expected to have a battery capacity of between 60 and 70 kWh, a 200-mile range at minimum, and cost $35,000 before incentives.

Some of Electrek’s other sources say Telsa CEO Elon Musk wants a drag coefficient of less than 0.2. If he gets it, the Model 3 would grab a spot on the index of slipperiness somewhere near the vaunted General Motors EV1 and Volkswagen XL1 vehicles, and an out-of-shape moray eel. The feat certainly would help achieve the quoted range numbers.​

At this point you’re already talking about a vehicle that is larger and less expensive than the Chevy Bolt, with an equal or better range, and that has the Tesla juju going for it. Model 3 variants with a larger-capacity battery, all-wheel drive, and a dual-motor arrangement are predicted, following the Model S template. One of those more powerful versions is said to hit 62 mph in 4.1 seconds, which would match the BMW M4 with a dual-clutch gearbox.

Breaking from the Model S mold, the Tesla Model 3 will forsake an all-aluminum body. To keep the price down, the smaller sedan will be fashioned mostly in steel with some help from aluminum. Model 3 buyers are not likely to get free-for-life use of Tesla Superchargers, a benefit bestowed upon Model S and Model X owners.

The Model 3 order books open when it meets the public, and deliveries begin in late 2017. One last word on that Model Y: Musk tweeted and then deleted a pretty good hint that it will come with falcon wing doors, as on the Model X.

Those are the choice cuts, written in pencil, mind you. We’ll be able to get our pens out in March, when the reveal goes down. Or maybe there will be reveals, plural. Because you just never know with Tesla.