The Tesla Model X is due for release next month, but the corporation is already readying itself for the production of the Model 3. The Model 3 has been described as an Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class type of vehicle that will become arguably the first truly luxurious electric car. Tesla is aiming to achieve the first deliveries of the Model 3 before the end of 2017, with the vehicle set for an unveiling early next year.

Is This Tesla Model 3?

Model 3 to be SUV-sedan hybrid

There is serious anticipation of the first prototype designs of this vehicle, with analysts expecting a cross between a small sedan and a compact SUV. But despite the efforts of analysts to unveil solid information about the Model 3, it has been difficult to ascertain exactly what to expect when it is released.

However, the publication Green Car Reports has recently spotted what is considered to be an early clay model of this electric car during a “60 Minutes” Australia segment on Elon Musk and Tesla. Not all of the vehicle design was visible beneath a black cover, but approximately one-quarter of the overall Model 3 unit could be spied briefly.

Just in case this sounds like a rather devious piece of information, it is important to point out that clay modelling plays a central role in the development of a vehicle prototypes. These models provide designers and engineers with a physical sense of what their vehicles will ultimately look like on a real-world scale.

The clay model certainly implies that the Model 3 will share certain elements of the existing Model S sedan and forthcoming Model X SUV. This would actually be logical for Tesla, as it would mean that production is logistically feasible for the corporation, and also that the cost associated with this process are kept to a bare minimum.

With Tesla’s share price having fluctuated in recent years, there is no doubt that the Model 3 will be an extremely important vehicle for the corporation. While the Model X that is released next month is intended to deliver a certain amount of cash flow to the electric car manufacturer, the creation of a truly luxury vehicle would be a real boon for Tesla.

Model 3 plays key role in Tesla plans

The Model 3 certainly plays a central role in the explicit plan of Tesla to build half-a-million cars by the end of the decade. The $35,000 Model 3 electric vehicle has the potential to open up an entirely new market for the electric vehicle. Expected to run 200 miles on a single charge, the Model 3 could be a hugely popular vehicle with middle-class consumers who have a green conscience.

Early reports indicate that the Model 3 could be launched at next year’s Geneva Motor Show. This begins on March 1, and if Tesla does indeed decide to unveil the Model 3 at these events, it will unquestionably be one of the highlights of the show. In the meantime, Tesla remains very coy about the technical specifications of this vehicle, and this clay-based representation is in fact the closest to any physical information that has been ascertained thus far.

Specs

Meanwhile, analysts have certainly been predicting what we can expect from the Model 3 when it is released, despite the absence of any technical data from Tesla. The general consensus of opinion is that it will be capable of a level of performance that will at least match BMW’s M3 and M4 supercars. This would suggest that the Model 3 will offer a similar level of straight line performance as the M3, ultimately reaching 60 mph (96 kmh) in approximately four seconds.

Opinion exists regarding the battery that will be fitted in the Model 3 as well. It has been suggested that the Model 3 might not benefit from the latest 90 kWh unit that is included in existing Model S. But the more aero efficient bodyshell included in the vehicle could enhance the distance that the Model 3 is able to travel on a single charge.

Tesla’s achievements in the electric car sphere are already significant. Simply establishing itself as a serious rival to the largest auto makers in the United States should not be underestimated. And despite the recent fluctuations in its share price, and some doubts about the long-term viability of its business model and growth potential, Tesla remains a multi-billion dollar company that has produced some of the greatest technological innovations of recent years.

The Model 3 will play a critical role in the evolution of the image of Tesla, as well as being an important economic unit for the corporation. Although this remains a jealously guarded vehicle for the moment, we now have a better idea of what to expect from the Model 3 when it finally emerges.