In a rare new blog post titled “Model S or Model 3“, Tesla reminded owners today that the Model 3 is not the “next generation Tesla”. It’s something that CEO Elon Musk tried to convey last month in a series of tweets, but the company went into more details today. 

The post follows an email blast that Tesla sent out to potential buyers last month. Combined with the reminder that the Model S 60, Tesla’s least expensive vehicle, is about to be discontinued, the company wrote:

“Later this year, we will introduce Model 3 – a smaller, simpler and more affordable version of our flagship: Model S. With more range, more acceleration, more power, more interior space and more customization choices, Model S will continue to feature the very best in Tesla technology.”

Apparently, they felt the need to further explain the difference after Model S owners asked “Should I trade in my Model S for a Model 3?

Here’s Tesla respond in full:

Model S or Model 3

We’ve been getting ready for Model 3 by advancing manufacturing, expanding our charging network, improving service, opening more retail stores and much more.

With a new model coming this year, we know our customers will have questions about which car is right for them. One question we’ve been asked is, “Should I trade in my Model S for a Model 3?” While Model 3 will be our newest car, it isn’t “Version 3” or the next generation Tesla. Our higher priced premium models still include the most advanced technology and the best driving experience we have to offer.

Model S is the leader in its class in every category, which is why 94 percent of our owners say they will buy Model S again. It has a 5-star safety rating and will continue to be our flagship Model with more range, more acceleration, more power, more passenger and cargo room, more displays (two) and more customization choices. With Ludicrous+, Model S has a zero-to-60 time of 2.28 seconds as measured by Motor Trend, making it the fastest accelerating production car in the world. Model S will also continue to be the longest-range vehicle we offer, capable of a landmark 335 miles on a single charge, meaning you can travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco nonstop.

Model 3 is smaller, simpler, and will come with far fewer options than Model S, but it makes driving feel effortless and offers a good range of at least 215 miles for our starting model.

At the foundation of every Tesla is safety – keeping our customers safe is part of every decision we make. In addition, every Tesla vehicle (Model 3 too) comes standard with full self-driving hardware which, through over-the-air software upgrades, will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver. As we continue to test and validate new features, customers can expect an increasing number of updates to be rolled out to their cars this year. And while innovation at Tesla will never stop, the very best vehicles we make are already available for purchase and on the road today.

Of course, there’s room for interpretation since Tesla used to refer to the Model 3 as its “third generation car”. It was mainly in reference to the vehicle’s architecture since the Roadster was considered first generation, while the Model S and X were built on Tesla’s second generation architecture and there’s the Model 3.

The actual “3” in the name has nothing to do with the generation since Tesla was aiming to call the vehicle “Model E” at the time.

Tesla has also implemented a lot of upgrades to its second generation vehicles, the Model S and X, which were useful to the development of the Model 3, but the “third generation” is more about cost reductions in order to achieve the Model 3’s $35,000 base price.

So technically, I would argue that the Model 3 could be considered Tesla’s next generation vehicle, but any “generational” improvement is also being implemented to the Model S and X, which will remain Tesla’s flagship vehicles.

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