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The All New Tesla Model 3

Side view of Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 may be the latest in Tesla’s line of sedan cars. Although it is the newest vehicle, Model 3 is not “Version 3” or the most advanced Tesla. Like Model S, it is designed to be the safest car in its class.  Tesla Model may be new after Tesla Model S and Model x but it is not  their the best car by Tesla, that accolade will go to Tesla Model S.  You can start ordering the car, though currently it will take up to seven month to shipped, I hope Tesla will subsequently hasten the delivery time.

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The Rise of Electric Vehicle

According to a post on DigitalTrends , the most exciting vehicle on the market isn’t a million-dollar super car, a broad-shouldered truck, or a seven-passenger SUV. No, the car the world can’t wait to drive is an all-electric sedan from a startup automaker called Tesla.

How did this happen? When did the consumer mindset shift from EV (electric vehicle) apprehension to admiration? We could cite rising fuel prices, diesel emissions scares, or the advance of battery technology – all of which are valid contributors – but there’s something more to the story. Tesla has rattled the entire automotive industry by doing what most manufacturers said was impossible – or at the very least unreasonable.

By making EVs cool and promising affordable, innovative products, Tesla has forced the hand of automakers lest they yield too much business to the technology upstart. The Model 3 isn’t the only long range EV available for less than $40K (see also the 238-mile range Chevy Bolt EV), but it is directly responsible for its own competitors. Today, we find out how the Model 3 stacks up within a segment it helped create.

This particular Model 3 is indeed expensive, but according to Tesla’s delivery timeline, it is also among the first category of vehicles scheduled for delivery. Of the more than 500,000 pre-orders, those who chose well-equipped Model 3s have begun to receive delivery. In late 2018, dual-motor (all-wheel drive) examples will begin rolling off the assembly line. Finally, in early 2019, standard battery, non-premium units will reach customers.

INTERIOR AND TECH

Tesla Model S Super interior

Typically, we spend time dissecting a car’s exterior design, but in the case of the Model 3, you absolutely have to start inside. No automotive experience prepares you for the Tesla’s reductionist approach to interior design.

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Drivers have just two points of engagement: the steering wheel and the prominent center screen. The only buttons on the entire dashboard are the two controllers on the steering wheel (plus the government-mandated hazard-light switch on the roof). Elsewhere, each door has its own release button and window switch. At first, this all feels too refined, too minimalist. Just an hour later, though, we can’t fathom why other cars have so many screens, dials, and physical controls.

The success of Tesla’s Spartan atmosphere relies on its omnipotent 15-inch center touchscreen. People joke that it looks like an Apple iPad fixed to the dash – but isn’t that a compliment? The iPad is responsive, vivid, and user-friendly. Each of these descriptors applies to Tesla’s interface. There is zero delay between input and reaction, the menu structure is intuitive, and the visuals are crystal clear. Google Maps powers the navigation system, and nearby Tesla Superchargers are shown along with the number of available charging stalls. To reduce any sense of range anxiety, the map shows precisely how much battery power or range remains once you reach your destination — and any trip that will otherwise drain your battery adds a stop at the most convenient charging station.

The real beauty of Tesla’s system is that any imperfect feature is likely well on its way to being fixed via an over-the-air update. Customer feedback (via tweets, emails, and calls) is collected and turned into improvements with the speed only a startup can provide. Today just the front seats are heated; in two weeks the rear seats will be heated as well.

If there’s a single letdown to the Model 3’s infotainment, it’s that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are notably absent. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HD radio, and other conveniences are on-board, but we long for a dedicated smartphone interface that will read our text messages and play our audiobooks. Instead, the Model 3 has Easter eggs like Santa Mode, an easel, Mars exploration, and Rainbow Road autopilot.

Speaking of autopilot: holy hands-free, Batman! Tesla cautions that, in its current form, autopilot is merely a Level 2 autonomous system and should only be used as a highway driving aid – to reduce fatigue. You can and should use it that way, because it is brilliant. However, in the name of science, our autopilot test (with at least one hand on the wheel) extends to city traffic and highway transitions.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Though one day soon the Tesla Model 3 may drive itself in all conditions, today, we need to work the pedals and the wheel. You won’t hear anyone complaining.

With a structure comprised of aluminum and high-strength steel, the standard Model 3 weighs 3,550 pounds and the long range checks in at 3,838 pounds (directly in line with the 3,555-lb BMW 340i and the 3,830-lb Mercedes-Benz C-Class). This is no portly sedan. Furthermore, with the batteries integrated beneath the floor, a rear-wheel drive configuration, and a 48:52 front-to-rear weight bias, the Model 3 is textbook sport sedan.

One key element of the driving experience is regenerative braking. Peeling off the throttle at city speeds, with sufficient room to slow, is often enough to bring the car to a complete stop. Not only does this save your brake pads and rotors, it is a good way to extend your range over time. Those who prefer a smoother transition off the throttle can select a “low” setting for the braking regeneration. Regen has already shown its benefits in motorsports applications and we can imagine this benefit working much the same way for weekend track warriors.

Like the Model S, the Model 3 offers a choice of brake holding (which allows you to take your foot off the brake when stopped and not worry about the car rolling forward), or “creep” mode to mimic an internal combustion car in gear. We quickly adapt to taking our foot off the brake at stoplights and to the regenerative brake slowing. It may be harder to go back to a traditional driving experience than it is to adapt to the Model 3’s assisted one.

Choosing between 220 miles of range or 310 won’t be an easy decision for everyone. Is 90 miles worth $9,000? That depends how you plan to use the car, if it is your only car, and how soon you want to receive your Model 3.

In addition to these considerations, factor in that Tesla only offers supercharger credits to Model S and Model X owners. Tesla charges a certain fee per kWh that varies by your state of residence and sometimes by charging speeds. For now, this minimal rate is nowhere close to the cost of filling up a tank of gas, but the process still takes longer – 130 miles of range is restored in 30 minutes for standard Model 3s and 170 miles in 30 minutes for long-range versions. Those who are considering the Chevrolet Bolt or other EVs will have a much harder time finding a fast-charging option. Of course, if you install a 240V charger at your residence and charge overnight, you may only need to visit a fast charger once in a blue moon.

In our effort to drain the Model 3’s long-range battery, we cover an honest 300 or so miles before pulling into a supercharger nearby a Costco. All of the 16 stalls are filled when we arrive, but after a few minutes, an opening appears. After backing into the spot, we pop the charger port via our Tesla smartphone app (which also can be used to flash the headlights, honk the horn, lock or unlock the doors, open the two trunks, or even remotely set the climate control) and plug in. After a quick grocery trip to Costco – during which time we monitor the Model 3’s charging progress – we return to find 230 miles of fresh range. Simple.

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WARRANTY

Tesla offers a segment-competitive 4-year/50,000-mile new car warranty and 8-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. With so few Model 3 vehicles in mainstream consumer hands, it’s hard to gauge Model 3 reliability, but looking to the Model S (upon which the Model 3 is based) gives us a good indicator. Consumer Reports gives the Model S an “above average” rating based on largely positive feedback from owners. Expecting the same or better quality of the Model 3 is fair based on the consistency that often comes with increased production.

Article culled from DigitalTrends

 

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