Tesla targets March 2016 for Model 3 rollout, gets 38K Powerwall pre-orders

Tesla Model 3

If you are like us, you’re probably starting to think that Elon Musk is really Steve Jobs reincarnated. Just when Tesla grabbed headlines with the introduction of the next-technology-likely-to-disrupt with Powerwall home batteries, it has shifted the conversation back to the electric vehicles, its original and staple product.

The latest news tidbit coming out of the California company is March 2016 availability of Model 3, the $35,000 sedan positioned in the same market segment as the BMW 3-series. Addressing analysts in a conference call this week, Musk mentioned the date but also added it could be changed. Tesla does appear to be on track to deliver the Model 3s to buyers by “mid or late 2017,” The Verge reports. The car’s price is said to be around $35,000, with multiple media reports suggesting its rollout signals Tesla’s arrival into the mainstream consumer market from the upstream, where its $100,000 Model S car has made a huge splash (although that’s subjective considering Tesla delivered 10,045 Model S’ in the first quarter, a fraction of the number of gasoline-powered domestic and import vehicles sold).

Before Model 3, Tesla will roll out Model X, the SUV that The Verge reports is more like its upscale sibling in terms of “higher price points, superior range, and more luxurious features.” By contrast, the Model 3 “will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S.” Musk said in July, Tesla will begin taking online customization orders.

On the battery front, The Verge reports Musk told analysts and media on the conference call that the company has taken 38,000 “reservations” for the Powerwall home battery and 2,500 reservations for the PowerPack. As usual, the high demand means interested customers will have to wait. “There’s no way we can possibly satisfy this demand this year … We’re basically sold out through the first half of next year,” The Verge reported Musk as saying.

One concern about the Powerwall batteries, according to a Bloomberg report, is that the new battery will not “work well” with rooftop-installed solar panels – not even Solar City. In other words: the much-hyped battery isn’t quite ready to handle the rigor of daily home use. “But if its sole purpose is to provide backup power to a home, the juice it offers is but a sip,” Bloomberg’s Tom Randall wrote.

Still, Randall ended his report with a decisively optimistic outlook. “The Powerwall product that has captured the public’s imagination has a long way to go before it makes sense for most people, he wrote. “Both Tesla and SolarCity are just getting started, trying to get some traction before Tesla’s massive $5 billion battery factory begins production next year. That’s when the battery market really gets interesting.”

Photo Credit: Theophilus Chin

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