A Year Has Gone By...
Being a Tesla Model 3 reservationist, I've been keeping my ear to the ground on any news related to my future EV car. You can read my first post Why I’m Buying A Tesla Model 3 for the rationale. Of course, the main reason why I plunked down $1000 on a car sight unseen is because of the potential the Model 3 represented at the time of the launch/reveal (part 1). That potential was all the advantages realized in the Model S & X but at a lower cost of entry, aka $35,000 instead of $70,000. For the most part, my reservation consists of a "My Tesla" account showing when I reserved my Tesla, 3/31/2016 which was the launch event. I put my reservation within 15 minutes of the web site going online.
Of course, later on Elon wanted to recognize all the early reservation holders by sending some concept art and a thank you. I had mine framed and now adorns my home office.
The Alien Dreadnought Has Arrived...
After a long year of scepticism by pundits at best, down right FUD lies at worst (mostly by stock shorters), Tesla is on schedule to begin full production in July, as according to Tesla's last shareholders financial call. Of course, this production will be the introduction of the "Alien Dreadnought" as Musk puts it. A massive number of robots that'll fully automate (eventually) the manufacturing of the Model 3. In Elon words, the machine that builds the machine is one of the core reasons how the Model 3 will achieve its price point, economies of scale in the manufacturing process.
After following all the news, rumors, and official statements, the realization of what I'm buying is becoming crystal clear. The Model 3 will NOT be a Model S, aka pandering premium options. In fact the Model 3 will be exactly like the alpha prototype shown at the launch. Of course, some people won't accept that because they were expecting the features found in the Model S to be available in the Model 3. For those people, just buy a Model S or hold off on your reservation. For me, I want simplicity with elegance and that is what the Model 3 will deliver. In short, I'm looking at cost and functionality from a base model point of view. This seems to be inline with Musk's idea on how the Model 3 production will roll out, keep it simple first. With that idea, the initial options for the Model 3 will be ONLY be exterior color (red, blue, black, white, & silver), tire size (18" base or 19") and that's it. Eventually, a choice in interior color, roof style, battery, and a AWD motor option will be added later in 2018. The rest will either be software upgrades (like the audio CODEC for premium sound) or options that can be added by Tesla's service.
As it stands now, the first Model 3's being produced, known as the "Founder's Series" since Tesla/SpaceX employees will get theirs first, will be RWD only, all glass roof, and have the largest battery option 75 kW/h. There will be no options except color and tires, nor will there be any "premium" package in terms of the interior. Also, there will be no HUD, binacle, or spaceship like options beyond the base. Only the central landscape 15" touchsceen will provide information and control the car, which of course is software upgradable. Also, the steering wheel is simple with left/right scroll wheels and two control stalks, and then you have the accelerator and brake pedals. The dash is low and simple with no obvious air vents and there is a centre console (storage and cup holders). That's it though Elon did say the early reservation holders will have a special option. It's believed to be either a special color (aka Tesla signature red) or maybe special rims.
It should be noted that a base Model 3 (aka the $35,000 one) is RWD (single motor) with the 18" wheels, metal roof, and a 55-60 kW/h battery. The chassis / body is aluminum & steel mix with coil suspension. Supercharging and Autopilot hardware with active safety features are standard (with full autonomy as a software upgrade).
I Welcome Our AI Car Overlords...
Well, I'm getting ready to welcome my AI Overlord now that Tesla has begun production with SN1 (serial #1) rolling of the production line this Friday July 7th. By this, I've started to prepare my garage to accept my Model 3 and its required wall charger. Basically, I'm building a shed to move all my gardening tools, etc. out of the garage into. This will make for a clean wall which the electrical conduit will run to my future Tesla 50 amp wall charging connection. Of course, I could go for just a NEMA 14-50 outlet (dryer outlet) but I want the convenience quick plug/unplug. Note that all Tesla's have onboard (fast) chargers, you only need an electrical connection.
The other aspect to getting ready is budgeting. This is a mental exercise to determine exactly what my expectations are for my Model 3. These expectations should be modified by my financial position, my physical location, and my absolute requirements. So far, I've determined that a base Model 3 with RWD, glass roof since there's been no mention/sighting of a metal roof, and 18" tires will satisfy my absolute requirements. The main issue is my location. I'm in Ottawa (Canada) that gets significant snow/weather where some options are better suited. Obviously, AWD or dual motors would be practical here in Canada for traction. However, it's not an absolute requirement because I've driven FWD/RWD vehicles all my life with no problems, you just have to adjust your driving accordingly. Also, being in a northern/cold climate, that has an effect on the battery. Cold or sub-zero temperatures do NOT harm Li-ion batteries nor decrease a battery's charge, it only affects their ability to discharge fully. Warm up the battery and all is good. This is exactly what Tesla cars do through thermal management. Unfortunately, keeping the battery warm requires power from the battery therefore range is less. The upside is that battery degradation due to excessive heat won't occur. The end result is that a larger battery capacity is better because it increases the range. Also, being in Canada, the second largest country by size in the world, having a larger range/capacity for summer vacation road trips is welcome. So I'm leaving AWD and everything else as options IF available and I can afford it reasonably, the 75kW/h battery will be a given in my purchase.
The only issue I have is that I'm impatient. I would really like to get my Model 3 as soon as it possible but I'm wrestling with the above and here's why. My reservation becomes a firm order with a delivery date when I press submit on the My Tesla Configurator page. The question is when Tesla will allow me access to the configurator. My guess is that when the "Founder Series" is finished production (aka rollout issues resolved), Tesla will then open up the configurator to a block of reservation holders sorted by 1) time of reservation and, 2) geographical location. Of course, this will obviously be time limited before moving onto the next block, as reservation holders can wait without losing their place in line. This means that there will be an "ingest" rate of reservations turned to orders. If Tesla's production ramp goes smoothly and/or matches the ingest rate, the faster blocks of reservations will be allowed into the configurator.
By Tesla's own estimation,
100,000 54,884 (using Elon's tweets) Model 3s will roll off the production line by the end of 2017. But that rate may be more or less than the "ingest" rate. Factors like dual motor availability, etc. will affect the ingest rate. Since people have already waited 15+ months, I believe they'll wait for the more popular options, like dual motors before clicking submit. My take is that the ingest rate will be lower than the production rate meaning that the configurator will be opened to more reservation holders faster.
Given that the first production run will be single motor, glass roof, and 75 kW/h, that meets my expectations and I could immediately submit my firm order (when the configurator opens for my reservation). Of course, it's possible that by the time Tesla gets to Canadian reservations, the dual motor option may be available then it boils down to purely budget.