Tesla Model 3 Offers Few Early Options

"You just need to decide what color you want and what size wheels—at least for the initial production."

Tesla

Tesla is known for offering a wide variety of options in the Model S and Model X. Between engines, the number of drive wheels, and custom features ranging from Autopilot to Bioweapon Defense Mode, there are numerous ways to make your Tesla truly your own. But according to Automotive News, that will not be the case for the Model 3. Elon Musk told shareholders that color and wheel sizes will be the only options customers can choose when Model 3 production begins in July. This is a far cry from the less than 100 configurations Tesla previously claimed. Additionally, the Model 3 will only be available with rear wheel drive at first. All wheel drive should be available starting next year.

These limited options may seem like a surprising move for Tesla, but it actually makes a great deal of sense. Tesla's future depends on the mass market success of the Model 3, especially after the Model X was not as popular as anticipated. (Our own Alex Roy thought it was wonderful.) But at this point, Tesla is trying to get the Model 3 out the door and into customers' hands as quickly as possible. The Chevrolet Bolt is already available and outselling its existing electric competition. Limiting the options to color and wheels will tremendously accelerate this process. Paint and wheels are easy to change for each car, and with no other options, they can fly down the production line and out the door with no concerns about how to configure any particular car, since they're all the same. 

But the lack of all wheel drive may turn off customers in northern climates who believe it is necessary to stay out of snowbanks. This isn't actually true. Rear wheel drive was the norm for most of the twentieth century until other drivetrains became widely available. But the modern perception that all wheel drive is mandatory for slippery conditions could hurt initial Model 3 sales in the north as customers wait for the all wheel drive version. On the other hand, the Chevy Bolt is only available in front wheel drive, so people who feel they truly need all wheel drive may be willing to wait for the Model 3 to introduce that option.

Regardless, it seems that we won't have long to wait and see if the Model 3 will truly fulfill Tesla's high expectations.