Tesla Model 3 release date, news and features

Everything you need to know about the affordable Tesla

Update: Added information on how to cancel your reservation.

Tesla was founded 13 years ago and shipped its first car in 2008 – the Roadster. At a base price of $109,000 (£86,950, AU$191,888), it was a long shot away from Elon Musk's vision of an affordable EV.

It took four years before the first Model S reached buyers, which now starts at $70,000 (£50,000, AU$97,245) before incentives and is still not very cheap.

Now that the Model S and X are out the door, Tesla is ready to unveil its first affordable car – the Model 3. Sadly, the Model 3 doesn't insert itself between the S and X, so there's a missed textual seduction opportunity.

Cut to the chase

What is it? Tesla's most affordable EV
What's the range? US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated 215 miles, at least
How do I reserve one? The Tesla stores and website are accepting reservations with a $1,000 deposit
When it is out? Deliveries begin next year
What will it cost? Starting at $35,000 (£30,000) base
How fast is it? 0-60 mph will at least be under 6 seconds

What is it?

The Model 3 is the first affordable Tesla, starting at $35,000 (£30,000) before any government tax incentives. It should qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit for US buyers, which brings the price below $30,000 before state incentives, if you're among the early reservations.

The tax credit is only available for the first 200,000 EVs sold by each manufacturer. Tesla claimed over 115,000 pre-orders already, so you may not meet the cut-off.

Depending on the state you live in, more incentives are available to bring the price down even further.

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3's simplistic interior

Tesla is targeting an electric range of 215 miles with the Model 3 on the base model and plans to offer other configurations like the Model S and X. As an owner of a 2015 Nissan Leaf rated for 84-miles of range, 210 miles would save me the trouble of having to charge in public for 95% of my driving and let me drive from Tacoma, Wash. to Portland Ore. without stopping to charge.

I've made the trip to Portland once in a Kia Soul EV (standing for "electric vehicle") and took twice as long, just to stop every 45 miles to use a CHAdeMO charger for 20 minutes, for a typical trip that takes me 2.5 hours by gasoline car.

Will it have Autopilot?

Every Tesla Model 3 will have the hardware for Autopilot technology for semi-autonomous driving, including the base $35,000 model. I commend Tesla for this announcement as the Nissan Leaf has zero advanced driver assists and the Chevy Bolt will only have basic collision prevention driver assists.

However, Autopilot convenience features, like adaptive cruise control, self-parking and autonomous lane-changing assists are optional. Tesla currently charges $3,000 to add the convenience features to the Model S and X.

Tesla Autopilot

How Tesla Autopilot works

How's the performance?

Elon Musk claims the Model 3 hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, at the very least, which puts it on par with a base model BMW 3-series sedan. Larger battery capacity and performance variants will be available, but that information has not been disclosed.

The Model 3 is rear wheel drive (RWD) with dual motor all-wheel drive (AWD) available as an option. AWD in the Model S costs $5,000 more than its RWD counterpart. Ludicrous mode will be available as an option, too.