Model III strikes a more studious, benign silhouette than its gangsta parents. Sure, a change of shoes would crank up the ‘tude, but it’s still clear that Model III is the upstanding citizen of the family. This is a good thing, for Model III has to win over male and female, young and old, Californian, Chinese and soon enough, Indian. It’s the car charged with making Tesla a household name even in the “iciest” households, and we’re not talking igloos. The court of public opinion is always swayed by new suit, clean shave and fresh pair of spectacles. “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty of foisting something hairy and scary upon us. In fact, we’ll each buy one right now.”
A year ago, Tesla’s chief tech officer JB Straubel said Model III will have the company’s “next generation” technology. But today Musk downplayed any notion of Model III upstaging the S and X. Cannibalismo non grata!
So then, wherein lies the truth? Obviously somewhere between Straubel and Musk, but probably closer to the Straubel end of the continuum, because a year ago there was no pressing concern about the S or X getting cannibalized. Loaded terms like “next generation” could leave the lips without repercussion. Sigh. Such innocent times.
So if indeed the Model III sports “next generation” technology, and assuming this goes beyond dry stuff like build-friendly design and myriad efficiency improvements, what’s this all about? Any new James Bond features akin to bioweapon defense, falcon wings, ludicrous acceleration, automatic-opening doors? Hyperspace?
Well, since Model III is super-simple and low-risk, that leaves the user interface and the roof as fertile ground for gee-wiz stuff. The UI is probably a wholly different experience from Model S/X, even without a true heads-up display. Musk did compare it to a spaceship, remember? Was he merely breathing up our pant legs? Unlikely.
And the roof is probably photovoltaic to a useful degree. In fact, TeslaMondo believes Tesla will pioneer photovoltaic density alongside battery density. With time, smaller and smaller surface areas will become more usefully “solar.” Why not start with a car roof?
In a few years, about the only things Tesla won’t be able to solarize will be its Tesla-brand traffic tunnels. Then again, skylights and mirrors could come into play.
With TSLA short interest at an all-time high, Tesla confirmed today that it’s about to start pilot production of Model III — the very creature that shorts think will never materialize.
Time to bring in Matt Hooper from the oceanographic institute, to talk some sense into them: “I’m familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass.”
But wait — there may be hope for shorts yet. A lone Tesla worker is trying to agitate for a union, just as headlines start to mention Model III. Quite a coincidence. And quite absurd, since Tesla’s job fairs tend to cause stampedes. Conditions can’t be all that bad, now can they?
TeslaMondo, and doubtless many others, never got around to asking a basic question — and very few are asking it even this afternoon. The question:
“Model III will be unveiled in how many parts?”
The popular assumption is two. But tonight it might become clear that Model III will be unveiled in SEVERAL parts. Musk is showing a few more cards tonight, but perhaps not all of them. This assumes, of course, he’s playing with a full deck.
You’ve seen the buttock bait everywhere but refuse to click? Well, TeslaMondo has done the probing or you. Here’s the trick: You wait until it’s night time, and quiet, and you’re alone with your spouse in bed. You’ve been talking about finances: college loans, home improvements, credit card strategies etc. That’s when you utter the sneaky words:
“I put a deposit on a Tesla.”
She will leap on you forthwith and begin hollering. With any luck, you’ll have a moment to explain the refundability clause before your genitals are removed and thrown out the window.
Tesla stealing attention from German automakers? Not news. Stealing from Toyota and Honda? That’s news. Edmunds says consumers are starting to weigh Tesla against the likes of Honda and Toyota, as Model III lowers the $$$ barrier of entry.
The Prius, as predicted here, may become a Prime loser. Pun intended. What pun? Toyota is about to launch the Prius Prime, with plug-in range of 22ish miles and a big iPad-like display inspired by Tesla. Google it. The price and timing will drop the Prius Prime into the boxing ring with Model III, not to mention the updated Leaf, updated BMW i3* and Chevy Re-Volt.
It’s good to see the “affordable” EV segment fleshing out, and it’s good to see Tesla will offer the most potent product in that segment. Toyota and Honda have essentially forfeited this ball game while they pursue the Mirage of fuel cells. Will they one day find Clarity there?
*BMW’s i-team went AWOL in China. A setback? Probably.
It’s 1989. The mailman brings a new issue of Road & Track. You learn about the latest cars, their engine displacements, torque curves, lateral Gs. Then you pore over the spec charts in the back of the magazine. Want some “color”? Catch a MotorWeek episode on cable TV, where you can actually see those cars in motion, see their bodies lean, hear their exhaust notes. You want to try one out? You leave a message at a local dealer. With any luck, they’ll you back when the first shipment arrives. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep on calling back or driving by.
That was car enthusiasm back then. No YouTube. No cell phones (well, not really). No internet (well, not really). Let’s stay in 1989 for a minute. A guy sitting next to you on the bus tells you the following:
“About 27 years from now, your pocket will buzz. It’ll be your phone doing the buzzing. It’s telling you an auto CEO, who incidentally aspires to die on Mars, has confirmed via Twitter that his forthcoming electric car will have Ludicrous mode, which annihilates the gas sports cars you used to fantasize about. You’ll tap your phone to scroll down an online Reddit discussion — that’s part of the internet , but no time to explain that now — anyway, you’ll read about the ramifications of this announcement. A year later, you’ll tap your screen to fine-tune your order. Ludicrous mode for you. Car arrives at a mall store, not a dealership. You take it home without touching the wheel much. A month later, an update arrives over the air — the first of many to come, each materially improving the car. You touch a screen and wait a minute. Suddenly the car has new cognitive functions. Think I’m crazy? I had an epiphany in the shower this morning, about all if this stuff.”
You would probably pull the emergency stop cord on the bus and let yourself off a mile early. Better to walk than sit next to a nitwit who might blow up the bus.
So when people warn of another sea change approaching, this time involving self-driving cars or maybe even self-teaching nonhuman beings (ASI), it’s probably not poppycock. TeslaMondo thinks the shift to autonomy will take several decades, if only because of the slow attrition rate of “dumb” cars and the lagging pace of regulation and infrastructure. But just imagine if the next three decades bring at least as much change as the last three.