Tesla has gained a lot of notoriety for its all-electric, fast, and feature packed Model S. Its cutting edge technology, for a hefty price, is the luxury car-style we are used to gawking at as desktop backgrounds, reading features in automotive and tech press, and occasionally seeing it pass on the street. But things are changing for the young automaker. On Wednesday, Tesla unveiled the Model 3, its reasonably-priced sedan targeted at you and me. It's a vehicle years in the making that Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to bring to the masses. Specifically, the Model 3 will be starting at 35,000 before incentives when it begins shipping in late-2017 -- a stark contrast from the 70,000 starting price of the Model S. Musk says "you will not be able to buy a better car for 35,000, even with no options."
Tesla's latest driving mode is an about-turn from its previous options, which were all about squeezing the optimal performance from its cars. The new "chill" setting makes for a "gentler ride," according to the manufacturer. That sounds like an odd upgrade from an EV maker that was once obsessed with cracking the fastest acceleration time, motivated by its rivalry with Faraday Future. It achieved that milestone earlier this year (after dropping the "Ludricous" easter egg), when the Tesla Model S P100D became the quickest car to 60 MPH. All those boring folk can tap chill mode for "smoother" and "more gradual" acceleration.
Would you put down a 1,000 deposit to buy something you haven't even seen? For fans of Tesla Motors, the answer isn't only yes, but also that they will happily camp out for hours to ensure a favorable position on the company's waiting list. On Wednesday, lines began to grow outside Tesla showrooms around the United States and Europe ahead of the electric carmaker's unveiling of the Model 3, which is expected to cost 35,000. The lines -- reminiscent of what Apple has previously drawn for product launches -- speaks to the anticipation of Tesla's most affordable vehicle yet. Tesla has long said its mission is to speed up the arrival of sustainable transportation; yet so far, its cars have been affordable only to the affluent, with price tags sometimes reaching over 100,000.
If the car becomes as popular and successful as Musk hopes, Tesla stands to become a major consumer brand that helps to finally usher the all-electric car era into the mainstream. But it may be a bumpy road ahead -- the Koch brothers are planning a multimillion-dollar assault on electric vehicles, Tesla's direct-to-consumer sales model is still prohibited in several states, automotive technology and trends are evolving rapidly and there is a possibility of shrinking tax incentives that push electric car prices down, a key to driving sales. When the Model 3 finally does begin to ship in late 2017, it won't be the first affordable all-electric vehicle to hit the market, so Tesla stands to face considerable competition.