While once an idea that seemed far beyond the realms of possibility, the Tesla Model 3 has turned the prospect of a reliable, affordable electric car from science fiction into a reality.
Set to be released in 2017, the world’s most-anticipated vehicle is to be available at prices starting from $35,000. Elon Musk’s latest piece of earth-shattering technology has prompted widespread intrigue and, according to Clean Technica, over 300,000 advance orders in the week following the product unveiling alone (100,000 of those were on the first day, before the car had even been shown). It is clear that there is a huge demand for this electric car, but will the product overcome the traditional limitations that electric cars face?
The most common criticisms of electric cars tend to centre around the battery that is used to power them. One of the major concerns is that the battery life will never be long enough to support long car journeys, which could lead to a user often being stranded between fuelling stations. As the battery will take a significant time to charge, refuelling is not as convenient as it is with a petrol engine.
Of course, Tesla is not a traditional car manufacturer. The company’s background is not entrenched in the auto or locomotive industry, rather in sustainable and renewable energy. Its highly anticipated PowerWall features a rechargeable lithium ion battery that is so powerful and reliable that it has been tipped to potentially solve the world energy crisis. If there’s a company that could overcome the battery life obstacle in electric cars, it’s Tesla.
An industry shift
Jim Fulford is from the auto-parts specialist Autosessive, and believes that the Tesla Model 3 could be a game changer in electric cars: “Range is an issue for all manufacturers, but hopefully with this new Tesla extension we will see huge leaps forward in having practical, fully electric cars. Tesla’s new electric car is a clear indication that it foresees huge growth in this sector, signalled mostly by the pricing being aimed at the mass market.”
Tesla is clearly looking to be the first company to make electric cars an affordable reality, and while the $35,000 starting price is conservative in comparison to other electric car proposals, it is speculated that the consumer will receive only the bare bones model for this price. If the user wishes for a long battery life, or the coveted ‘ludicrous speed’ option (As detailed here by energy specialists Gas2), they will have to pay extra.
However, there is a chance that these cars will be made even more affordable if there is subsidisation involved which, as explained by Autosessive’s Jim Fulford, is not out of the question: “The UK is stubborn in letting go of its fossil fuelled engines, thus we can see the mass popularity of electric cars being a long way off. However, if more countries follow Germany’s example of providing subsidies to boost electric car sales, we could see the mass market adoption of these vehicles greatly accelerated.”
While some critics have deemed the prospect of an affordable, reliable electric car too good to be true, it will be up to Elon Musk and his team of world-class scientists to release a product that will prove otherwise. One can only hope this is a challenge that they relish.