Inevitably you will be at work today and someone will say "Did you see the new Tesla?" And you will say "No, because I don't watch livestreams on my computer in the middle of the goddamn night. Why does Elon Musk refuse to kowtow to East Coast centrism and do these things when most of the country isn't sleeping or at a bar somewhere?"
The good news is that I watched the livestream for you, and I am going to tell you the things you need to know in order to not only navigate a conversation about the $35,000 Tesla Model 3, but to delight in said conversation. In fact, you may find yourself being the person at work who says to the person in the elevator "Did you see the new Tesla?" or "Are you going to buy the new Tesla?" You'll probably say to your date "I'm so glad I no longer have to secretly hope to cash in on a loved one's life insurance policy in order to afford a Tesla."
Important fact No. 2 (No. 1 was the price tag, I hope you were paying attention): 115,000 people worldwide preordered the car sight unseen over the first 24 hours it was available, according to Elon Musk.
Important conversation-framing mechanism: Musk says is the culmination of Tesla's "Secret Master Plan."
"The [Model] S and the X are what paid for the Model 3 development," Musk said. That Master Plan was to use expensive, low-volume luxury cars to finance an eventual mass market car.
Important supporting detail that supports your frame: For as much hype as the Model S has gotten, Tesla has sold just over 100,000 of them. So Tesla has already sold—if you count $1,000 deposits as "sold"—roughly the same number of Model 3s as it has of the Model S. Ford, meanwhile, sells roughly 2.5 million cars every year. Tesla is still very much a small-time car manufacturer.
The Model 3 is an attempt to change that. The Model 3 is the car Musk thinks can do it.
List of facts to handwrite on a 3x5 inch index card to study while your date is peeing:
According to Musk, the Model 3 will:
- Have a 5 star safety rating "in every category"
- Go from 0-60 MPH in less than six seconds ("At Tesla we don't make slow cars," Musk said)
- Get at least 215 miles of range on a full charge
- The entire roof is apparently made of glass and you can I guess fit a surfboard inside the car if you are a psycho who owns a surfboard and a Tesla but not a modest roof rack
- Seat five, is a sedan, and looks kind of like the Model S, which is to say that it looks like a car
- Have "autopilot safety features" standard
- Ship by the end of 2017, but Tesla misses deadlines all the time which is a good bit of trivia
- It has a giant touchscreen on the inside, just like Tesla's other cars
Other things that are not strictly about you driving the car that you can talk about if you feel like the conversation is going super well: To deal with the increased production demands, Musk says he wants to pump out 500,000 cars (presumably a combined number across all Tesla models) annually from the Fremont, California Tesla factory. He also said that the much anticipated and much hyped lithium ion battery production facility in Nevada, called the "Gigafactory," is "operational" and said that when it's completely finished, it will "have the largest footprint of any building of any kind."
To sum up: Tell your dad or your date or your buddy at the bar or your coworker who is microwaving their stupid tupperware for far too long that it's kind of a make-or-break car for Tesla. Say that it'll make electric cars mainstream if it succeeds. Then pause for a moment, tap into the imagination station in your brain and say something like "If it fails, it proves that ..." and then ad-lib a very dire sounding scenario about climate change and fossil fuels and the end of the Tesla dream. It's gonna sound just like you watched the livestream, and you didn't even have to stay up nearly as late as I did.