Some new details have leaked about the Tesla Model 3, and while they give us a better look at Tesla's newest model, the intent of the information leaked on cargo space, acceleration, and availability might well be to drive sales of the current Model S.
The new information comes from Trevor Page, founder of the Model 3 owner's club forum. Page posted photos of what he says are "talking points given to all Tesla employees for when talking to customer about the differences with Model S and Model 3."
The leak gives a much better idea of the size of the Model 3. The information claims an overall length of 4,694 mm, 284 mm shorter than the Model S. The Model 3 is a sedan, unlike the Model S, so it loses the jump seats that the Model S has in the back, and it loses cargo space as well. The photos claim 396L of cargo space total from the front and rear trunks. That's down from 850L and is about average for a compact sedan.
The Model 3 gets a shorter range and slower acceleration as well. The Model S can be had with a range of up to almost 550 km, but the photos claim "215+ miles range" for the 3, which is about 348 km. Acceleration is stated as 5.6 seconds from 0-100, which is slower than the 2.3 seconds of the Model S but is still very quick.
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The photos make some big claims for the availability of the Model 3, stating that if you order a Model S you could have it within 30 days, but if you order a Model 3 today, then it's "not expected until mid-2018." Since Tesla already has well over 400,000 Model 3 deposits (the number they gave in April of 2016), that suggests an extremely aggressive ramp up of production. Mid 2018 means that they expect to go from zero (they still haven't started Model 3 production) to well over 400,000 units in just 13 months. That kind of launch hasn't been seen since the Ford Mustang launched back in 1964, and that was by an established automaker using existing factories and using parts they already produced.
But the whole point of this information might not be to drive Model 3 sales at all. Tesla founder Elon Musk has been working since earlier this year to convince buyers that the Model 3 isn't the replacement for or "next version" of the Model S. He's tweeted about this multiple times, including this past March when he tweeted "am noticing that many people think Model 3 is the "next version" of a Tesla, like iPhone 2 vs 3. This is not true", adding that "Model S has more advanced technology." This desire to push the Model S as still being the better car shows up in the leaked documents as well.
The documents tout the Model S's "premium features" like an aluminium body, air filtration, and panoramic sunroof. None of those features are mentioned for the Model 3. The range and acceleration figures are all for the more expensive P100D not the base Model S, with no mention of the possibility of more powerful or longer range 3's. It also indicates that the Model 3 will have fewer than 100 combinations of colours and options available, while the S has over 1,500. It even mentions the US federal tax credit for the S, but no mention of credits for the 3.
So we now have a better look at what the Model 3 will be when it arrives, likely later this year. But what we also have is an indication that Telsa would rather you look at the Model S, the one they have for you right now.