Tesla will unveil its new small electric car in California later today, joining a throng of other manufacturers seeking to sell mass-market battery-only vehicles that probably cost about twice as much as they should, often only go half as far as claimed, but all signal the green virtue of the buyers.
Sales of battery-electric cars have not kept pace with the claims of some of their most ardent fanatics. For instance, the Renault -Nissan alliance - makers of the Zoe and Leaf - have invested large sums on the bet that by 2020, 10% of all global sales would be battery-powered. Now just over 1% is the consensus projection.
The likely biggest-selling electric car in the near future is going to be the Chinese BYD e6, according to Cairn Energy CRNCY +% Research Advisors. Cairn, based in Boulder, Colorado, reckons the e6 will notch up 86,500 sales in 2017. Close behind is the Nissan Leaf at a projected 80,745. Other big sellers next year will include the Hyundai iOniq (37,077) and the BMW i3 (31,730). Cairn sees only 12,200 Model 3 sales in 2017, but production will have barely gotten underway.
BMW said almost three years ago that the next three to four years would bring more battery development than the previous 100 years. So far that hasn’t happened.
But the new Tesla Model 3 is expected to come with very impressive credentials. Its performance, at least of the most powerful versions, will surpass the hottest versions of sedans like the BMW M3 and Mercedes C-class AMG. Eventually there will be a coupe, a cabriolet, a small SUV and maybe a pickup truck. Prices are likely to start at $35,000.
According to Cairn, the 65 KwH Model 3 will scorch from rest to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, will have range of 225 miles and take one hour for a fast recharge.
Tesla is expected to claim 100,000 orders for the Model 3 before it’s even launched, but given the $1,000 deposit is refundable and production won’t be able to get close to that number for a while, that doesn’t really mean much. Cairn expects Tesla to ship 196,890 Model 3s by 2020, about 100,000 short of Tesla’s official guidance.
Morgan Stanley expects the first upmarket versions of Model 3 to be priced at more than $60,000. Morgan Stanley says total Tesla vehicle production will only reach just under 249,000 by 2020, compared with the company forecast of 500,000.
The Model 3 is likely to be at least as handsome as its siblings, the Model S and Model X, but it doesn’t really matter how it looks; the technology is all. You can see from the gallery that none of the competitive battery-only cars have benefited from much attention from the company stylists.
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