When it arrives late next year, the all-electric Model 3 could be the car that turns Silicon Valley into the world’s new automotive powerhouse.
The Tesla Motors story is the most remarkable thing to have happened in the car industry for decades. The Model 3 is the culmination of Tesla’s mission laid out soon after the company’s 2003 foundation: a fully-electric car that does the same job as a mass-market family saloon with a combustion engine, for a similar price.
Just eight years ago, almost no-one had heard of Tesla and it hadn’t sold a single vehicle. The same year, The same year, BBC published an article called ‘the car of 2030’, which involved interviewing many very senior motor industry engineers and futurologists. The article said:
“Pure electric cars will be well developed by 2030, but it’s still unlikely they will have the battery capacity or quick-charge ability to make them useful over long distances.”
Yet in just five years, Tesla had completely upended both those assumptions. It was selling a fast and luxurious saloon, the Model S, that could do 250- plus miles on a single charge. And it was rolling out a network of fast-charge ‘Supercharger’ stations that could supply the car with about another 150- 170 miles’ worth of energy in just 30 minutes.
Oh and almost as a by-the-way, a couple of years after that, Teslas were able to drive themselves on motorways and main roads, negotiating other traffic and following white lines while their drivers YouTubed themselves reading the newspaper – although the legal disclaimers say the driver must be ready to take control at any instant.