With Tesla no more than nine months away from initial production of the Model 3, more information is appearing. Some of it’s minor, some major. For instance, Elon Musk tweeted that the speedometer won’t be in the usual position behind the steering wheel. Separately, he acknowledged that early production of the Model 3 would be rear-wheel-drive only. And Musk has been at pains to clarify to Tesla-intenders, the ones who only read sporadically, that this not the next edition of the Model S, but a smaller, simpler car.
Meanwhile, others possibly in the know, such as analysts and financial people, are raising questions about whether the Model 3 can really sell for $35,000, or if it will ship in any significant volume in 2017. One Tesla fan discovered a new color, a dark blue, in the Model 3 palette.
First drive of a release candidate version of Model 3 pic.twitter.com/zcs6j1YRa4
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2017
Tesla 3 drives on its own power in short video
Last Friday (March 24), Tesla’s CEO posted on Twitter a short, 6-second video clip, “First drive of a release candidate version of Model 3.” It showed a dark-colored Tesla Model 3 accelerating from a standstill and driving two short blacks to a stop sign, where the video ends.
So we know it runs for at least a fraction of a mile; we still don’t know if it will exceed its claimed 215-mile range. (Most cars at least match their claims on EPA tests.) Last summer, several months before the Chevrolet Bolt EV launch, a group of a half-dozen journalists drove Santa Barbara to Monterey, California, to confirm the Bolt EV met its claim of 238 miles of range; most eked out about 250 miles.
No speedometer in customary location
It appears the speedometer will be part of the center stack LCD. Musk got several tweeted questions from Tesla fans about the speedo and location. He said it won’t be in a central location and there won’t be a head-up display (HUD) showing speed.
Based on what Musk said, and given there are finite places for a speedometer, it appears it will be LCD, according to these Twitter exchanges:
Nick G: “But but but… Can we PLEASE have a central speedometer in the 3 for those of us who don’t want autopilot 🙂 /beg”
Elon Musk: “@nickg_uk No”
Nick wants a Tesla: “@chouky02 @elonmusk I’d still rather spend the extra $50 on a simple 2″ LCD speedo if nothing else. I strongly prefer it in the middle.”
Elon Musk: @nickg_uk @chouky02 You won’t care
Nick wants a Tesla: @elonmusk @chouky02 Does that mean it will have a HUD? 🙂
Elon Musk: @nickg_uk @chouky02 No
There are a handful of cars with speedometers mounted other than in front the driver. Some have been on entry-level cars where the automaker wants fewer expenses re-engineering cars for right-hand steering wheel driving. In the past 15 years, they have included the Mini (photo above), Saturn Ion, Toyota Prius, Toyota Yaris, and Scion xB. One disadvantage of the central speedometer, other than the slightly longer time to move your eyes over and down to read it, is that others in the car see how fast you’re going.
Clearing up misconceptions
Musk has also taken to Twitter to remind buyers that the Model 3 is not a Model S re-engineered to be a similar car at half the price. It’s smaller than the S, and is intended to compete with premium compact cars, such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
The Model 3 will initially be available as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, followed later by an all-wheel-drive variant. For the British and other markets with the steering wheel on the right, a right-hand drive version will come, eventually. It will have AutoPilot (self-driving software), available by uploading the update.