Game Changer

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    Will the Tesla Model 3 live up to the hype?

    By Shawn Price

    The Tesla Model 3 is steeped in mystery.

    Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk crowed in early April that his company had already received more than 230,000 reservations for the car just two days after it was unveiled at the company’s Design Studio in Hawthorne. None of the attending press or Tesla enthusiasts were given the opportunity to drive the car. Musk left the Model 3 tantalizingly out of reach.

    What was revealed that day is a car that could be a game changer—a notable shift into second gear—for the burgeoning electric car market. Though BMW, Ford and Chevy have certainly had their successes with electric cars, Tesla melds luxury and emission-free driving, the brand’s differentiator from the beginning.

    Priced at $35,000 (U.S. government incentives rebates drop the actual price to just below $30,000) the Model 3’s other selling points can now become far more meaningful.

    The sleek sedan is said to zip from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds and seats five with cargo trunks in the front and back. It carries an EPA rating of at least 215 miles per charge and also has a five-star safety rating in every category. That’s significant.

    Even realists, like Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, say it’s OK for Tesla to dream large because the payoff could be huge.

    “The number of reservations to buy Model 3s is impressive,” Nerad says. “It reflects the fact that a large number of people have bought into the Tesla Motors brand and to Elon Musk personally. Even though some of the reservations are likely speculative and will not result in a sale, the number of hand-raisers is well beyond what others have achieved. It will be interesting to see whether the Model 3 is perceived to be a small luxury car, like the BMW i3, or a non-luxury sedan.”

    So how does a car like this live up to its hype? Nerad, who despite saying the Model 3’s competition will be thicker than previous Tesla models, is cautiously optimistic.

    “We expect the Model 3 to be fun-to-drive and innovative at a more accessible price than previous Teslas.”

    For charging stations and dealers from Baja to British Columbia, visit www.teslamotors.com.