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Tesla has produced three models, each with radical technology, Model 3 also??

The Roadster had a radically large battery. Model S was the first EV optimised car with underfloor battery, compact motor layout, the big driver interface screen and autopilot. Model x delivered the Falcon wing doors, large windscreen, novel second row seats and chemical warfare quality air filter in a package that builds on the Model S.

Lower price M3 cannot just be smaller without the expensive bits of MS and MX. It will surely have something radical - and not just in body design.

Going from two motors to four would be a radical change. A smaller, cheaper car will surely offer less horsepower. SpaceX uses nine small rockets in its Falcon 9 first stage. Why not a 70 to 100 h.p. motor and transmission for each wheel? Each corner of the car could have drive-by-wire controlled steering, suspension, motor/transmission (planetary gears) and brakes - see image.

Autopilot would have an easier job of parking the car in tight places. The vehicle assembly task is much easier. Also, the car could have a single control box for the autopilot, battery, lights, navigation devices, airconditioning, motors, steering, suspension settings, brakes, door handles, windows, etc., that interfaces with the screens in the cabin. All the cables and tubes would simply plug into it for easy installation and replacement. The car would still need a steering wheel connected to the front wheels.

Once the body was built, it would simply be a matter of bolting on the four drive units, the battery, the control unit, and plugging all the lines into the control unit. The factory robot count could be halved compared to the MS and MX.

Combined electric motor transmission disc brake suspension and steering unit with rotating parts.png
 
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Some of the major Tier 1 suppliers to the auto industry have development versions of drive units like this. It requires a bigger shock-absorber for the extra weight - extra weight is closely related to power of the electric motor. Tonnes of power being a feature of Tesla EVs, its a more difficult task for them, but it is a company that exists to innovate.
 
Yes, putting the motor in the wheel is probably not a good idea as it would make for a rough ride and poor handling due to high unsprung weight.
Exactly. You want the wheels to be as light as possible to have an effective suspension. Alloy wheels were introduced to reduce wheel weight and improve heat conduction.
Now you want to put a hot and heavy motor inside the wheels? Makes no sense in a performance car.
 
The idea of 4 motors is great and potentially viable for all of the reasons you stated in the original post, but if this happens, it will almost certainly not be in-wheel motors. The unsprung weight kills handling, and to an extent, reliability, as the entire mechanism is exposed to all the major an micro jarring motions of wheel travel. Much more likely that they are placed within the chassis. A move to a fully modular, "Lego-like" if you will, assembly would reap huge benefits.
 
The point of the model 3 is an affordable, reliable, mass appeal EV. I may be ignorant here but it seems like this needlessly increases complexity and cost in a car that is supposed to be somewhat economical and reliable, right? 4 motors seems like it would be at least 4 times as complex and certainly somewhat more expensive as a single motor (the current D models are $5,000 more than the single engine models)
 
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aronth5

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The point of the model 3 is an affordable, reliable, mass appeal EV. I may be ignorant here but it seems like this needlessly increases complexity and cost in a car that is supposed to be somewhat economical and reliable, right? 4 motors seems like it would be at least 4 times as complex and certainly somewhat more expensive as a single motor (the current D models are $5,000 more than the single engine models)

You're right of course but don't worry between now and the reveal there will be countless suggestions which will add complexity and won't be implemented. All part of the fun as we wait a few more months.
 

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