As an article by Robert Sorokanich published Wednesday, July 16th, in Gizmodo points out, a high-quality electric vehicle under $35,000 like the Tesla Model 3 could revolutionize the electric car market. Moreover, as Sorokanich rightly points out, revolutionizing a market is not just about an affordable price tag for a quality vehicle, it’s about creating an overall improvement in the electric vehicle driving experience, especially range.
To get a good idea of why a $35,000 price tag could be a such a game-changer, just consider Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s current lineup: a two-seat convertible for $100,000 and a luxury sedan for $70,000. Not much mass market appeal there.
But a $35,000 Tesla Model 3 is a completely different story. That price tag makes the Tesla Model 3 a car almost anyone could buy. And as Sorokanich says, that “knocks down the last, most difficult hurdle that’s prevented electric cars from truly hitting the mainstream.”
Building a supercharger network
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) critics bring up the issue of infrastructure. Sure, Tesla vehicles have more than twice the range of other EVS, but where do you charge then when traveling away from home? The answer is still a work in progress, but the company currently has 102 Supercharger stations spread out across North America where drivers can top off their batteries in less than a half hour for free.
Furthermore, Tesla promises to cover 80% of the U.S. population with Supercharger stations by the end of 2014. Tesla drivers have already managed coast-to-coast road trips by carefully planning their stops at Supercharger locations. As Sorokanich points out, “It takes some serious planning, but it’s possible—and a lot more convenient than finding somewhere to charge your Leaf or i-MiEV overnight every 100 miles.”
Tesla Model 3 similarities to the Ford Model T
The Gizmodo article also highlights some interesting similarities between the Tesla Model 3 and the Ford Model T. For starters, Elon Musk knows that an affordable, practical electric car will do for almost as much 21st century motoring as Henry Ford’s affordable gas-powered car did for 20th century driving.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) didn’t invent the automobile, and when the first Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1908, “horseless carriages” were no longer oddities. But motorized cars were too expensive for the average joe, and roads were still built for horses and carriages.
By 1927 the driving landscape had changed dramatically. The final Model T rolls out of the Dearborn, Michigan plant into a country where roads are full of automobiles and gasoline is available from roadside pumps even in smaller communities. The economic ecosystem was also expanding, with Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) now facing a host of new competitors in the burgeoning auto industry.