The Tesla Dream: What The World Is Waiting For?

Paypal magnate Elon Musk is peddling electric dreams. But has he found what the world is waiting for? We ask whether the Tesla Model 3 can live up to the hype.

Electric Dreams

The Tesla Model 3 looks epic. Actually, it looks beyond epic. The Model 3 and its gut stirring, tear inducing dribble worthiness is aesthetically so far away from any affordable electric car we have seen before that it should have been no surprise that it was unveiled to riotous fanfare and has since attracted a global army of adoration.

On the back of this initial hype Tesla have pre-sold a few, if you call a handful away from 375,000 a few.

Model 3 Unveiling (Tesla / YouTube)

In fact enigmatic gazillionaire and CEO Elon Musk predicts that by the end of 2016 Tesla will have taken half a million pre-orders before more details about the car are revealed later this year.

If you are on the West Coast of America, close to the Tesla manufacturing empire (which can produce just 50,000 cars per year at the moment… think about the maths for a second!) then you may get your Model 3 in late 2017. Tesla will then start rolling the car out across the US West to East and then begin its overseas delivery. It is making no promises o a delivery date, so if you are based in the UK and have been seduced into bankrolling its production then you might get the car within the next 4 years. That is might.

Pre-orders as development capital

But then, if you can get your deposit back at any point, it's a safe bet, right? This leads me to my first reason for believing the Model 3 is an invisible step forward for electric cars.

I have gazed through the car's beautifully sculpted windows and stood mouth gaping at the futuristic 15” touchscreen that carpets the dashboard. Some of us have then parted with £1000 to reserve the car and add our names to the waiting list. 500,000 people are effectively providing the cash flow Tesla need to manufacture the cars they actually will sell. They can predict with some certainty that many of the deposit monies will be refunded, but they don’t care, the money is useful for them NOW.

It is the ultimate crowd funding campaign, a stroke of aggressive marketing genius.

The Reality

In addition to this, the Tesla marketing campaign has also convinced hundreds of thousands of people that it has produced something so far advanced from what other companies have in the pipeline (or indeed have actually driving on the roads).

The reality is different:

  • Nissan have the “Leaf”, a car available for you to buy this very second that can do 155 miles on a charge, only 45 miles away from Tesla’s ‘ground-breaking’ battery life. And it is £6000 cheaper
  • BMW and Chevrolet have (with the “i3 extended” and “Bolt” respectively) unveiled cars that will physically be available to buy next year and can do around 200 miles per charge, the same as the Tesla 3
  • The automatic drive feature isn’t any where near as advanced as it sounds and many people are lured into believing. It is basically cruise control with limited radar. But you still need to pilot it, steer it away from hazards and change lane. Like I say, cruise control with frills.

A Handsome Piece Of Kit - The Model 3 (Tesla)

So there you have it.

What Tesla have ‘produced’ is is a car that looks ridiculously handsome and a superbly executed project that is lining Musk’s manufacturing pockets.

But a genuine breakthrough in electric vehicles it is not. 

Which is a bit of a shame.