On Thursday, Tesla will take the wraps off its Model 3 mass-market electric vehicle at its Design Studio in Hawthorne. The vehicle will have a base price of about $35,000, which is expected to drop below $30,000 after federal and state incentives. The Palo Alto-based company hopes to sell hundreds of thousands of Model 3 units every year. It is key to the company’s target to sell 500,000 cars in 2020.
Model 3 could spur competition for public charging stations
Electric vehicles are much more efficient than their internal combustion engine counterparts, plus they offer environmental benefits. But having a lot of electric cars on roads could strain the charging infrastructure. There could be intense competition for public charging stations. Tesla currently has 274 supercharging stations in North America and 613 across the globe.
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Most electric vehicle owners today charge their cars in their garage or driveway at night. But for people who lack a garage or rent an apartment, public charging stations are the only option. Ryan Bradley of MIT Technology Review points out that most of the existing public charging networks are broken and remain out of service for weeks. Still, competition for these charging stations among EV drivers is intensifying.
Tesla customers already facing congestion at supercharging stations
Even though Tesla has a large supercharger network where its customers can charge their vehicles for free, Model S owners are already facing congestion at these stations. As a result, many Tesla vehicles could be seen parked alongside Nissan Leaf and other electric vehicles at public charging stations. In many instances, Tesla customers are vaguely aware of the supercharger stations available exclusively to them, said Ryan Bradley.
If Model 3 is to really take off, there must be a strong charging infrastructure. One long-term solution would be to allow public utilities to build the infrastructure. Tesla will start delivering Model 3 in late 2017, so the company has ample time to expand its own supercharger network as well. The Model 3 buyers will be early adopters who will have to navigate a system that is still evolving, said Bradley.