Tesla likes to wow people with its vehicles. Think supercar-beating “Ludicrous Mode” acceleration in the Model S sedan, exotic “falcon wing” doors on the Model X, or Autopilot self-driving technology.
Those who are wowed sometimes forget that Tesla is essentially a luxury carmaker selling its vehicles for around $US100,000.
That’s all about to change with the arrival of the $US35,000 Model 3 — a mass-market car designed to delivering widespread electrified mobility at a very affordable price.
It will be a different kind of Tesla.
RBC Capital analysts Joseph Spak focused on this aspect of the vehicle in a research note published Friday:
The more “scaled back” Model 3 could prove disappointing to Tesla enthusiasts who lined up on announcement day … One of our concerns had been that a good number of the [373,ooo] Model 3 reservation holders could have been in line for sticker shock when they went to configure their vehicles and found the options required to get their vehicle earlier required some heftier packages … A recent survey indicated that the majority of Model 3 reservation holders currently own Toyotas indicating a vastly different customer than Model S/X owners (though not surprising).
Teslas have an aura of futurism around them that can cause people to expect more than they’re getting from the cars, which are after all still automobiles, just ones that are powered by batteries and electric motors. Critically for the Model 3, which will sell for far less than either the S or the X, Tesla has to be able to mass-produce the vehicle without losing a ton of money on every car.
We really are talking about the Toyota of Teslas here, and although the Model 3, due to launch later this year, should be quite snazzy, it will also be the Tesla for the rest of us.
As customers realise this, they will either recalibrate their expectations — or suffer disappointment.