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Thoughts on designing the Model 3

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by lxvr, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. lxvr

    lxvr New Member

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    (newbie on TMC alert)

    A lot of the renderings and speculations about features can be easily tempted with wishful thinking. But designing and concepting the Model 3 happens in a very specific context. Some things I'd keep in mind when predicting things:

    The differentiation to S/X


    3 wants to start at half the price of S. It's clear that battery cost is going to come down dramatically over time. But that is valid for the S, X and 3. Tesla can claim some timing between the last S and 3 launch, but it can't be a reason for a price difference between 3 and other models when launched in 2017. By that time all will use the same battery technology (or no one would want to buy the "old tech" S/X).

    When looking at other car brands, price difference also defies logic. But usually follows some simple rules:
    • Engine performance
    • Design status
    • Size
    • Features / equipment

    With Tesla, there's one extra point
    • Range

    Let me start with Range. 200 miles real world range seems to be a must, because
    • It has been claimed before
    • Tesla should keep range a non-issue
    • SC's are spaced with that range in mind
    • Chevy Bolt announced 200 miles range

    I'd say it needs to go slightly north of 200, at maybe 220.

    The 70k USD S has 230mi range. By the time the 3 starts to deliver (Q4 2017) Tesla needs to bump the S packs much higher to justify difference: Probably 80/100kwh (15% increase), or maybe even 100/120 if we are to apply a 30% cost reduction / same car price. Price remains at 70K USD for lower pack, or maybe go up slightly by the time the 3 gets out, but range increases.

    Performance: Base Model 3 will need to be equally or less performant than the lowest S, but still fast enough. Let's say 6.2 0-60mph (still a lot better than BMW M3 10.7), max speed 140mph (vs 127 BMW M3).

    Design status: the 3 needs to look less premium than S/X. Otherwise no one will want to buy them anymore. It also can't look like a sports / super male car (as some renders seem to think) because this is a car for a wide market, male and female. Arguably Y could cover a bit more of the female market, but 3 will def not be a macho car.

    It will follow the general Tesla design language (simplicity / low drag! that's why their cars look more beautiful as time passes), but look different from S/X. Not as premium, and def. not with the S nose cone (it's unique, but no one ever loved liked those plastic things in the front). Still S3XY, but not Premium. It being steel instead of aluminium ads to the loss of status (albeit invisible), and signature red will not be available.

    That being said I think Tesla will cleverly stay away from making the 3 look cheap. It's smarter to use the already well regarded Tesla brand to keep status high and make the 3 look better than any other same price range car around. Which brings me to:

    Size: 20% smaller of course, though I can imagine that that will be more on the length, somewhat on the width, and not on the height. This will be one of the main visual / emotional differentiation to the S/X.

    Features / equipment:
    • Supercharger access will be an extra feature and not be included by default. Not only because the SC infrastructure doesn't scale, but because we know that the SC cost is calculated into the cars. So to bring cost down, this is a significant solution. And let's face it: SC's are only for road trips, which not everyone needs. If you do, you'll be happy to pay for the extra feature. In exchange the car will have a > 200 miles range, still beating the Bolt, which doesn't have any SC option.
    • Touchscreen included of course!
    • Autopilot sensors will prob be extra.
    • No two seats in the back.
    • Probably a shorter front zone, reducing storage, but introducing some kind of amazing new reinforced structure to keep the crumple zone and the high safety levels that come with it.
    • Ludicrous probably not available at all.

    It wouldn't surprise me that, with all the options on top (AWD, extra range, SC, Autopilot, premium seats, paint, rims, etc) the car would surpass the entry level of the S. It's ok to have some overlap, as long as the "irrational" side of the design differentiation is strong enough.

    One extra thing


    Inevitably the 3 will have one thing we're not thinking about. Not a *huge* feature, nor a too complex or expensive one, but something. Doors, seats, safety, hatch, windshield, lights, camera rearview mirrors... most likely something which you will be able to spot from outside the car.

    Back to designing...

    Simpler in its shapes than any of the renderings we've seen so far. Because:
    • Tesla design language
    • Function before looks
    • Low drag
    • Longevity of one design / no new designs every 18 months (with time people will appreciate this more and more compared to other brands)
    • Designing for the future / car will be shown 2 years ahead of its release
    • Simplicity turns into beauty, even if it takes time - and 2 years between announcement and first test drives is a lot of time for the design to sink in :)
     
  2. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    Where are you getting your numbers? BMW M3 is MUCH faster than 10.7 0-60. More like 4.0. Now if you're talking about the base 320d models sold in Europe, maybe. In terms of it looking "less premium" than the S or X, I don't necessarily agree. By virtue of its price point, it won't be as lavishly appointed. It might have mechanical door handles rather than the power flush-mounted handles, and the interior might not have as rich of materials. Just because it's simpler or more basic doesn't automatically cheapen it. I think most target buyers realize it will not have the same level of equipment as the S or X.

    For a control freak like Elon Musk (a term which I use with the utmost respect), he's not going to release a schlocky product. It will be a solid effort. We will find out soon enough.
     
  3. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead Active Member

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    Here are some absolute must haves for the model 3 design:

    1. Ability to fit 3 (2 at a minimum) full size golf bags with 46" drivers in the trunk.
    2. Move the charging port way up to the front of the car. The Model S has a terrible design with its charging port so far back with such a short cable. I have to back into a parking spot at work just so that the cable can reach the charging port. This is a big issue in my garage as well as it forced me to plug in the car with the cable "stretched" just to reach. Eventually the cable broke from being bent almost 90* where it plugs into the car. I repeat, this is a horrible design. It doesn't have to be in front like on a Nissan Leaf, but putting it on the side front fender would be perfect.
    3. Have the ability to install 2 front facing car seats so that kids can still have enough leg room when a tall person is driving. I.e. make sure that rear legroom is sufficient.
    4. Make the roof of the car taller so that you don't bang your head against it in the rear seats. This is a huge safety issue for tall people in the Model S.
    5. Make rear view camera, auto-dimming headlights, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and keyless entry standard. These are all must have safety issues, and I pray that Tesla doesn't go down the road of nickeling and diming customers like other major auto manufacturers.
    6. Offer 300+ miles of range as an option. There is no point in limiting this car to only 200 miles of range. It is a smaller/lighter car, so there should be no issue offering more range (like 400 miles on roadster). Don't make this car a Bolt competitor, make it a Bolt killer.
     
  4. lxvr

    lxvr New Member

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    Yeap, entry level BMW M3 in Europe. You're right, in US the entry level is 7.1s 0-60
     
  5. 3s-a-charm

    3s-a-charm Active Member

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    I'm sure you mean entry-level BMW 3-Series (not M3)...
     
  6. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    Kind of what I figured.
     
  7. lxvr

    lxvr New Member

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    Yes! Lots of 3's going around
     

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