Elon Musk took to Twitter this afternoon to answer questions pertaining to the Model 3. The result is one of the most information-dense Elon “tweetstorms” in recent memory.
Delivery / Production
A few tweets suggest that in order to maximize the number of customers getting the full $7500 US federal tax credit, Tesla intends to ramp production on the Model 3 extremely quickly. Elon promised that both East Coast buyers and non-Tesla owners would have a chance at getting the tax credit. He specifically mentions the production ramp plan as a reason for this, which means Tesla intends to hit the ground running with fulfilling Model 3 pre-orders. Due to the way the credit phases out, the more orders they can fulfill early, the more people get the tax credit. There is not a hard cutoff at 200,000 vehicles.
Also mentioned by Musk were some clarifications on the geographical roll-out. Model 3 orders will be sorted and ranked geographically, meaning you will have a reservation sequence number for your particular area, not necessarily on the entire order list. Despite the high number of orders, Musk mentions that ordering now will make a large difference for your particular location.
The “West Coast first” roll-out of the Model 3 is explained. Deliveries will begin nearest to Tesla’s Fremont factory first in order to quickly solve issues that might pop-up on early versions of the car. It certainly would be easier for Tesla to fix a mechanical issue if all the vehicles that need fixed are within a few hundred miles. However, this does not mean all West Coast orders will be given priority, just the earliest ones, which may be limited mostly to employees and Tesla owners.
There has been a lot of discussion on the subject of the Model 3’s minimalist interior, with the most controversial point being the absence of a traditional instrument cluster. All of the vehicle information, including speed, is currently displayed on a center monitor instead. Musk mentions that the lack of an instrument cluster will make more sense later, suggesting the possibility of a heads up display. This would make a lot of sense considering most vehicles with HUD have duplicate information immediately below on the dashboard. Tesla would be able to keep their minimalist dashboard and still display important information immediately in front of the driver by eliminating the instrument cluster and adding an HUD.
Another point of contention has been the chunky, unfinished-looking steering wheel. Musk makes a point to hype up the “real steering controls,” explaining that it “feels like a spaceship.” Early Model 3 design sketches show a U-shaped steering wheel, much like the flight-yoke in some aircraft. It’s possible that a variation of that will make it to the final version of the car.
Some have also complained about the decision to go with a more traditional trunk, as opposed to the hatchback style found in the Model S. Musk explains that despite the smaller opening, a bike should still fit within the back of the Model 3. This will be aided by the ability of the back seats to fold down flat, which is also confirmed by Musk.
Parents rejoice. The Model 3 will fit up to 3 car seats in the back.
Musk confirms that some of the exterior design elements are not final, including the grill-less face of the Model 3. He does use words like “tweaking” and “refinement,” however, which still suggests the general look of the vehicle is near-final.
The drag coefficient of the Model 3 is expected to be 0.21. This is lower than the Model S drag coefficient of 0.24, which is the lowest of any current production car.
Performance / AWD
Quite a bit of information on the Model 3’s all-wheel drive feature. RWD will be standard, but AWD is expected to be less than $5000. The Model 3’s at the reveal were indeed AWD, but Musk says the production AWD will be “much faster.” Musk also touted the ability of Tesla’s RWD vehicles to exceed traditional AWD vehicles in traction control. This is due to the lightning quick torque vectoring that comes with electric drive.
Musk hints that the matte black paint job shown on Thursday might make it to production, as will the wheels we saw, a tow hitch and a vegan interior.
Musk answered several questions concerning non-US customers. Europe will eventually get a full-fledged Tesla factory, but not until after Model 3 deliveries begin there. Tesla will come to India before the Model 3 is released. Spain’s lack of service centers “will be addressed this year.” Service centers and Superchargers will cover Italy by the end of this year. The same can be said for Ireland.