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Tesla’s Model 3 is a Tipping Point

2016.04.11 23:17 PT

Tesla Model 3

Before Tesla, electric cars had some deficiencies:

After Tesla’s Roadster, Model S and Model X, electric cars were no longer slow. In fact the Model S P90D, the performance model with dual electric motors, can get to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds with a “Ludicrous Speed Upgrade”. Only supercars like these are faster (0-60 mph times in seconds):

There are no ‘normal’ cars that can beat the Model S P90D from 0 to 60 mph. I think we can clearly cross off that electric cars are slow.

There were slow.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yes, but I think most would agree the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X are prettier than the average car. Most other EVs are still on the ugly side of the spectrum.

There weren’t pretty.

Many electric cars still have limited ranges. Here are some examples, in miles (Source: Plugin Cars):

With ranges like these this list of electric cars can only be used sparingly and most likely for local commuting. On colder days the range will decrease quite a bit. But on the list are three three electric cars that have enough range to go from San Jose to San Francisco to Berkeley and back to San Jose, with some battery left over:

Yes, the range can be better — you’ll want a regular gas-powered car to go on long trips without having to stop every 200 miles to refuel — but I think a lot of us can live our daily lives with a 200-mile range car. I think it’s safe to delete the severely limited range deficiency:

Their range was severely limited.

Electric cars took a long time to recharge their batteries. Let’s go back to the list. I’ll put two recharge time: one at 110/120V and the other at 220/240V, both in hours. Most homes in the U.S. have 110/120V, but you can install special 220/240V outlets to charge your electric car.

Don’t even think about charging your EV with a 110/120V outlet. Install a 220/240V outlet and you’ll save thousands of hours of charge time.

Tesla’s EVs come with a variety of battery capacities. With the 85-kwh battery — a battery much larger than all of the aforementioned EVs — a 220/240V outlet will charge it in about 10 hours. Tesla’s Supercharger can charge it in just one hour. It takes some planning to get to a Supercharger station right when you want to eat lunch or dinner, but 3+ hours of charging time down to just one is a lot of improvement. But if you’re not on a road trip the charging happens while you’re sleeping and by the time you’re ready to head off to work the next morning your EV will be fully charged, assuming you installed a 220/240V outlet. Of course, charging time still takes too long if you compare it to about the 5 minutes it takes to refuel a car with gasoline. Recharge time gets crossed off with a note*: Supercharger or when you’re charging at 220/240V while you sleep.

They took a long time to recharge.*

Fast, pretty, with a long range, and a short charge time. Only Tesla’s Model S and the Model X have all these features. The Chevrolet Bolt has a long range, but fast and pretty it is not. The upcoming Model 3 though is all of that: Tesla announced 0-60 mph times at less than 6 seconds for the base Model 3 model. Not ludicrous fast, but pretty fast for a base model. I’m certain if there was a P90D version of the Model 3 that it would be one of if not the fastest $35,000 car you can buy. The Model 3 is also one more: The Model 3 is affordable at US$35,000. Yes there are affordable EVs on the list, but none that has it all.

They were too expensive.

I believe Tesla’s Model 3 is/will be a tipping point.