If you could ever draw a parallel between an iPhone and a car you’d pick the Tesla Model 3. For whatever reason this car has prompted thousands of Australians to part with $1500 deposits just to reserve one. The car was announced back in 2016 but not one right-hand-drive version has been made, let alone seen. There seems to be a lot of hype before the horse, why is this so?
Today at three locations in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne these very people get their first chance to cast a judgemental eye over the coveted yet elusive electric car. EFTM had exclusive access to Sydney’s Martin Place Tesla store prior to the glass doors being flung open at 8am. Much like the unveiling of a new iPhone it’s anticipated that large queue’s will form throughout the day.
Back in January we saw the impact an in-store appearance can have. The scene unfolded at Century Westfield in LA, dozens of shoppers crowded a car that was already being sold and regularly spotted on US roads.
The car at 20 Martin Place is a left-hand-drive version but we’ve had the chance to have a bit of one on one time. The example on display will set you back a cool US$57,000 but features a premium package with an extended battery range of 500km, up from 350km. There’s a long horizontal piece of timber panelling across the dash, electric leather seats and a full-length glass panoramic roof. Although funnily enough every Model 3 has a glass roof, but entry level $US35,000 cars have them covered by a material roof.
My first impressions of the car are minimal, because that’s what it is. This is essentially a scaled down Model S with a cabin that is extremely simplistic. A floating 15-inch screen is the only display in the cabin. There’s no instrument cluster at all, the speedo is displayed on the centrally mounted screen as is just about every other function of the car. The steering wheel is also a bare bones affair with two unmarked track wheels that can be customised for different functions.
Over the air software updates can be as subtle as moving the demister icon to a new location on the screen or adjusting how the wiper stalk operates. But as we’ve seen in the past owners can also wake up one day and discover there has been a performance boost for the car.
This car sits in a category dominated by the likes of BMW’s 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. So, to sit in what essentially feels like a concept car requires a complete rethink of how a car should look and feel, let alone drive.
We’ve certainly had our fair dose of Telsa action, hell we drove a Model X from Brisbane to Adelaide just to celebrate the expanded public supercharger network. We will find out today how many of the ‘thousands of Australians make their way into stores and check out what should arrive in 2019.
For those on the reservation list head down to the Martin Place Tesla store in Sydney’s CBD, Melbourne’s Chadstone store, and Brisbane’s main store in Fortitude Valley.