May 23rd, 2017 by Steve Hanley
Tesla has prepared a graphic that gives its sales staff a list of talking points they can use when discussing the purchase of a new Tesla with prospective customers. The graphic, first revealed by Tesla Motors Club forum founder Trevor Page and intended for internal use only, definitely seems designed to make the Model S appear more appealing than the Model 3. One flaw in the chart is that it compares the upcoming midsize car in its most basic trim to a fully optioned Model S. That’s a little like putting a BMW 3 Series next to a 7 Series and saying, “See? The bigger car is much better, don’t you agree?”
The graphic confirms some information about the Model 3 that was previously a matter of speculation. For instance, the car will be 184.8 inches long. That’s a little less than a foot shorter than the Model S. The Model 3 has seating for 5. The Model S can seat 7 with the optional rear facing seats. Carrying capacity is a big surprise. The Model S has 30 cubic feet of room when the area behind the seats and in the front luggage compartment are added together. The Model 3 has less than half that amount. Its cargo capacity is listed in the graphic as 14 cubic feet.
From a performance perspective, the base Model 3 is within a whisker of the Model S 85 — 0 to 60 in 5.6 versus 5.4 seconds. Model 3 owners will have to open the trunk manually. No power opening apparatus for them. The biggest news is the company says there will be less than 100 possible Model 3 configurations available to buyers, at least initially. That compares to more than 1,500 possible configurations for the Model S when you calculate all the permutations of paint color, headliners, wheels, tires, roof choices, suspension system, and a myriad of other details available.
Tesla is serious about limiting the production complexity of the Model 3, at least to begin with. The first cars off the line will all have only one battery choice and all will be rear wheel drive. Paint color and interior trim options are few. The company says dual motor cars will not get built until some time in 2018. There will probably be different battery options at some point and choices about Autopilot and autonomous driving configurations. But for now, Tesla is going with the “Keep it simple, stupid” model made famous by Henry Ford, who told Model T buyers they could have their car in any color they wanted so long as it was black.
The upsell guide has created some consternation among TMC forum users, who are annoyed that Tesla is pushing so hard to lower expectations about the Model 3. Many have pointed out the cargo capacity — less than a BMW 3 Series or a Honda Civic — is a disappointment. Others find it rude to suggest that people who ponied up $1,000 to reserve a Model 3 more than a year ago are being made to feel that they will be getting an inferior product.
The likely answer is that more exterior color choices and interior trim levels will be offered eventually, along with battery upgrades, software upgrades, wheel and tire choices, and more. Tesla is focused first and foremost on getting the Model 3 into production on time, calibrating the production line, and ramping up production than it is on offering a blizzard of options.
Yesterday, Elon Musk called himself an idiot for letting the Model X launch turn into a fiasco. Elon may have been an idiot once but he has no intention of being an idiot twice. Tesla’s plan for moving forward with the Model 3 makes perfect sense. There will be plenty of time to improve on the options list once production is well underway and the cars start to add a touch of profitability to Tesla’s bottom line.
For now, Elon and company think customers will be quite happy to have just one touch screen and open their own trunk lid if it means they can own a Tesla for one third to one half the price of a Model S. Watch the TMC video below for more.