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Model 3 surprise: Tesla is preparing to announce 2 vehicles in March (Updated: Tesla Denies)

(Update: A Tesla Spokesperson called this report “wrong” and that only 1 of the vehicles would be announced in March. Tesla is indeed working on [at least] 2 different Model 3 platform vehicles which we reported previously. Here’s something they were able to verify.)

We’ve seen the Chevy Bolt (not just seen, driven!) so, in March, it is Tesla’s turn to unveil its $30,000 long-range electric car. We’ve had a steady stream of whispers on the Model 3 but are unable to verify much of what we’ve heard.

The biggest tidbit I’ve heard from a second-hand source is that Tesla is readying at least 2 different versions of its Model 3 for the March launch. One version is a sedan and another is a small crossover built on the same platform. I can’t verify if the crossover is the Model Y that Elon Musk mentioned in a Tweetstorm last year, but that would make some sense. We’ve heard that this vehicle will be a smaller version of the Model X with its Falcon Wing doors. Again, it will have a premium price over the Model 3 similar to the $5,000 difference between the Model X and Model S. 

I decided to hold off on publishing this info until I saw Tesla’s Hong Kong presentation this week, which included two cars under wraps (pictured above). Yes, obviously, the artwork is simply a Model X and Model S under digital covers, but the fact that there are two cars to be unveiled adds a little more credence to what I’ve heard.

We broke the news in March of 2014 that the Model 3 platform would be more than just a sedan with the leaked slide presentation below which first mentions “Crossover”.

Model 3-roadmap

My source believes that the plan around Christmas of last year was to launch at least two vehicles or configurations at the same time, but obviously things could change. Also, Tesla could have two projects happening simultaneously to contain/isolate leaks.

Other Model 3 info follows:

We know the car is going to cost around $35,000 without federal subsidies so after (including some state subsidies), it could cost significantly less than the $30,000 Bolt.

The base model will likely be a 2WD version, but I think the most popular, better specced model will have AWD at a $3000-$4000 premium (it is a $5000 premium on the Model S).

Battery size: I think Tesla needs to beat GM’s range but can do it with the same amount of battery — so something around the same 60kWh on the base model should get Tesla to 240 miles with low drag, light aluminum body, efficient motors and regeneration. There will also likely be a long-range battery which could be as high as 80kWh or eventually 90kWh.

Superchargers? A big cost savings will be supercharging at a fee. Rather than include “free supercharging for life” like Tesla does with its Model S and X vehicles (it was originally a $2500 option), I think Tesla will want to associate a credit card with the car and automatically charge on an as-needed basis. These prices will still be less than gas but probably be more than the local electric company charges for electricity on a kWh basis to pay for infrastructure/overhead. CEO Elon Musk wants to scale solar to all of its chargers which could offset some of the costs. Some people will never use Supercharging. Some with extraordinarily long commutes could use it every day.


Tesla Model 3 prototyping in Los Angeles via

Cabin Size: Musk has made numerous comparisons to the BMW 3 series and that sounds about right here. I think with Tesla’s revolutionary and often-copied skateboard battery body, this is going to leave a lot of room for cargo or perhaps extra seating, especially in a crossover version. Will Tesla try to squeeze a third row in? I’d say more likely than not, especially on the crossover option. I have to believe Tesla will continue with its “frunk” storage under-the-front-hood model because it not only adds storage space but creates the crumple zone that makes Teslas the safest cars on the road.

Dashboard: I believe that Tesla will add the huge display to its cheaper-priced Model 3 and Model Y. The cost of designing a new, less costly middle stack far outweighs the OEM cost of a 1080p capacitive touch display. In fact, since it is already invented and its parts are cheap, the 1080p touch display might even save money over traditional middle stacks.

Delivery: If Tesla follows their current pattern, and there is no reason to believe that they won’t, they will begin shipping higher end varieties of the Model 3 to the first reservation holders at the currently scheduled end of 2017. From there, a wider rollout of base model vehicles will hit the road in 2018 as production ramps.

We’re two short months away from Tesla revealing the Model 3, and we hope to have more information to share with you soon.

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  1. MarcG - 7 years ago

    Can you say SEXY?! With Elon stating more than once that Model 3 will really be spelled Model III with the bars being horizontal rather than vertical, there’s more than a hint that they’re still going for that nomenclature while skirting around the Ford trademark issue. And when you see how TESLA is spelled, notice the E doesn’t have a vertical bar – just the three horizontal ones. Well done Elon, well done 🙂

  2. Panu - 7 years ago

    They have talked about the sedan and crossover for a long time. But we will see if the orders open for both in march.

  3. R3D - 7 years ago

    “Tesla’s revolutionary and often-copied skateboard battery body”

    Ohh, come on! It sounds like the Apple fanboys stupidity. (Writing this on an iPad.) The BMW started to develop the i3 in 2008, years earlier than Model S was released in 2012 and it’s also based on a skateboard platform. Now what? Is it coping Tesla backwards in time? If Tesla will ever user carbon fiber for body components then will you say it’s coping BMW as well? (Because we all know a couple of years ago it tried to put its hand on BMW’s CFRP technology.) If you are really EV enthusiasts then you should be happy because the EV world developing the best way it can. But if you are just Tesla fanboys… then I understand the quoted sentence.

    • Dan Gessler - 7 years ago

      Tesla started as a company many years before they came out with the Model S. How are you liking your i3 btw?

    • Atlantis - 7 years ago

      “The BMW started to develop the i3 in 2008, years earlier than Model S was released in 2012”. Funny sentence as someone who is comparing the beginning of the development of a car (sure it was in 2008?) with the the year of first deliveries of an other car (whooooo! So Tesla magically develop and began the deliveries of the Model S in the same year? Amazing Tesla motors performance, I would like they do the same for the Model III!). Now, who is a brand related fanboy?

      • R3D - 7 years ago

        I help you to interpret my previous comment:
        I wrote “Is it coping Tesla…” Tesla is the object in this sentence, not the subject! I didn’t refer that the Tesla was coping BMW! Obviously, developing a car from zero takes years, even if you copied anything. What I was trying to point out is both Tesla and BMW were developing their cars basically parallel in time (there is only 1 year between the release dates), so there was no chance to copy each other. Yet, they came out with the same solution. So who was coping who??? If something is sooo f…ing obvious then logically (almost) everybody come out a very identical solution. This is why you should set aside this narrowness fueled blame game, because at the end always turns out these stupid things have never mattered. Some years ago a “brand” (I don’t know which one, but doesn’t matter) put reverse camera in its model first in the history. It was probably an awesome feature. Now Tesla did the same. Same thing with the ABS or airbags or whatever. So is Tesla coping these companies? Of course not! But it shouldn’t be backwards too! Should not think Tesla is all above the others and no one else is capable of doing what Tesla does!

      • Drew Belltower - 7 years ago

        GM had a “skateboard” fuel cell prototype in 2002-2003, called the Hy-Wire. Tesla by no means came up with the basic concept.

    • Tesla first “officially” announced the Model S in 2008, and started development well before that… so the quoted sentence is correct.

      • R3D - 7 years ago

        Listen…!!! We can argue endless about copycats. I could quote Drew’s comment about GM’s skateboard prototype if wanted to prove this is not Tesla’s idea originally. But I don’t. We can go back in time and we find similar concepts from decades earlier so this isn’t big breakthrough and it’s definitely not unique idea to any of them. But who cares who’s idea it is originally??? I dont! The only thing I care about is the EVs are getting better. That’s it! Period!

        But it’s just exhausting that wherever I go on the internet I find these radical, blindfolded believers. I like Apple but I don’t think it makes flawless products. And if I go to an Apple related site all I see is just sheep baa-ing around. Same story with Tesla. I like Elon, I like the company, it has many merits and makes great cars. But they are definitely not perfect, not flawless but this isn’t a bad thing. And the fanboys might think the objective viewpoint is an esoteric term, or they just to busy to bee-ing and have no time to think, I don’t know. Elon Musk could herd a nice, big flock of sheep together just like Steve Jobs did. I respect both them for this! 😀

  4. Ethan Derd - 7 years ago

    Great scoop! Any reason you anticipate an Aluminum body for the 3? Common wisdom up until now has been the 3 will not use Al to keep costs down…

  5. Dan Gessler - 7 years ago

    I do not think they will deliver both versions of the Model 3 at the same time (late 2017). Elon has hinted towards this. The Y may come out a short period of time after the Model 3 sedan.

  6. MM3 - 7 years ago

    The Chevrolet Bolt will NOT be a $30,000 vehicle. Chevrolet has stated that it will be $30K after federal tax incentives of up to $7,500. This means that the cost pre-incentives is $37,500. For buyers who don’t pay enough federal taxes to reap the full allowed tax credit, the Bolt will be for them more than $30,000. Also, when the incentives for Chevrolet expire, the Bolt will be the full price of $37,500.

    So please stop calling the Bolt a $30,000 car. It’s not.

  7. Kalud - 7 years ago

    Small typo, the Bolt is 37,500$, not 30k. They advertise 30k after incentives.

  8. BEP - 7 years ago

    Aluminum is too expensive.
    3rd row? I say no.
    Supercharging not included? I agree, but I see the chance that they will surprise us by including it.

  9. Dominic Gratton - 7 years ago

    The chassis gonna be made in steel, Musk said that to lower the production’s cost, plus he said the drag coefficient gonna be less than 0.2 (model S has a drag coefficient of 0.24). Gonna be a nice little car to see =D

  10. I think that this would be great, I will be in the market for a new car soon as my current car is 13 years old, but still has less than 100,000 miles on it, but it is getting up in age, and I need something newer and would prefer a New, Tesla!

  11. Super excited about this!

  12. prabhjot singh - 7 years ago


  13. JJ - 7 years ago

    This all sounds great , And as I to am waiting for the Tesla Model 3 to come out. I can’t afford the Model s P85D Which I have driven, and Hell yea”[ Not to be confused with the HELLCAT. Chrysler] When I was first told of the model 3 going back 2013 & then to read about it, and all for about $30,000– Lets hope. Even $35k before the state & Federal tax REBATE’S. Lets hope I can fit inside it. 6’5, The first Tesla based on the small 2 door coupe version I couldn’t fit into. Lets hope sooner than Later & the idea of a as needed Supercharger is brilliant idea ! This is the first I’ve heard of a small SUV type along with the model 3. But if they do, Hats off TO ELON MUSK. KICK ASS & YOU DESERVE IT.The others wouldn’t Listen when you had the Idea, the hell with them ! And even better yet Tesla is 100% all ELECTRIC, NO ENGINE, NO EMISSION, SMOG. TRIPS TO THE GAS STATION, TO FUEL UP NOTHING LIKE THAT. ZERO TAIL PIKE SMOKE.

  14. tim lovejoy - 7 years ago

    which design genius managed to convince you people that having links in light on white background is a good idea?

    i know UI experts love to breathe in their own farts a bit too much and yes, most people with a minimum of experience would copy the text so the contrast becomes better but I just saw an abomination last week with white text on neon yellow background and while didnt top it, it was pretty darn close.

    as for the article, very interested as it fits nicely in the budget.

  15. End game - 7 years ago

    Here’s a thought or two. The superchargers will always be free to Tesla owners, regardless of the model. Incentivizes people in all price ranges to buy Tesla. Long term, I could see other automakers wanting to use the supercharger network by making their cars supercharger compatible. The design is open source already anyway. If you’re going to bill someone to use the superchargers, bill their buyers, not your own. You could bill at the pump or offer a paid monthly/annual subscription. This forms an additional revenue stream for Tesla and reinforces the incentive to just buy a Tesla in the first place, rather than another badge. If other brands do use the chargers, Tesla spends no money to generate the demand (i.e. other companies had to make those cars). Imagine Henry Ford building and owning gas stations across the nation all while he started his company. Now he’s making money off of every car on the road, even the ones he didn’t produce. His business would have a steady stream of cash for r&d and the revenue would soften any downturn in the economy when people weren’t buying as many cars. Same concept for Musk and the supercharger network. Moreover, if and when those stations all switch over to solar, Musk starts turning the sun’s rays into cash money after the sunk cost for the panels are covered. Finally, when autonomous driving is fully realized, Tesla taxi service makes use of the supercharger network as well, complete with automated charger hookup (see youtube videos). Autonomous Tesla taxis get summoned across town or on commutes all day and cycle through the supercharger bays on shifts to charge up. Makes for another revenue stream. You could even tier the service…one fee for a carpool taxi, a higher fee for a private taxi in a Model S…like a limo vs a yellow cab. People could pay per use or have a subscription for their weekly commute.

    • R3D - 7 years ago

      Here’s my thought:
      Current Tesla owners (and basically all EV owner nowadays) are early adopters, geeks or vegetables (radical green thinkers). The free SC network is a good selling point for them. But they are just a tiny fragment of the premium/luxury car buyers. The majority of this segment doesn’t really care about fuel economy or gas prices. Maybe a little bit but do you think the Jaguar or 7 series owners with 4/5000 ccm engines have ever thought about efficiency? I doubt! They’ve bought these cars not because they have a cheap maintenance cost. The electricity is cheap anyway, so the free charging will never attract their attention. The fast charging could, but it has to be really fast. I mean less than 15 mins for 300-400 miles in real conditions (roughly 120-150 kWh battery –> 500-600 kW charger). And they won’t even swap to EVs without the possibility of this fast charging and long range in real life use.

  16. Bruce Mitchell - 7 years ago

    All this talk about who did what first. Irrelevant. GM doesn’t know what to do with what they got or get anyhow. There own CEO said they make what looks like “angry appliances” anyway. Elon is stealing their Bolt thunder by making a sexy desirable vehicle and not just a utilitarian car. BMW will be lucky if they can make a similar vehicle for under 100k. Ford is the only major manufacturer that is likely to be competitive in this space.

    • Kay See - 7 years ago

      Oh please. Tesla technology is nothing special, all the big car companies they can make better and cheaper EV cars if they want to in no time. They just wait and see, letting Tesla do all the hardwork preparing the infrastructure for them.

  17. ianstuart - 7 years ago

    Having just given away a VW Passat with 100,000 miles on it because of problems servicing it (never buy Audi or VW unless you are an auto mechanic) I would add that I intend to buy a Tesla III (as long as it has AWD) simply in order to avoid all the hassles of internal combustion cars. Think: no radiator and cooling system; no cylinders, pistons, spark plugs etc; no transmission issues. This part of the game changing aspect of Tesla has been largely ignored but it could be even more disruptive to the established order than the electrical

    • Kay See - 7 years ago

      “Think: no radiator and cooling system; no cylinders, pistons, spark plugs etc; no transmission issues”, you might be disappointed if you know how many issues MS owners have had with the drive train.


Avatar for Seth Weintraub Seth Weintraub

Publisher and Editorial Director of the 9to5/Electrek sites. Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt owner…5 ebikes and counting