Tesla to launch its Model 3 while GM may kill its Chevy Volt

The launch of Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle is almost here. This week* we’ll look at what to expect going forward.

Handover party for first 30 customer Model 3’s on the 28th!,” Musk tweeted back on July 2. “Production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1500.”

Model 3 configurator, simple configs first: The configurator/Design Studio will to go live towards the end of July, Musk said in June at the annual shareholder meeting. “We have kept the initial configurations for Model 3 very simple. This is critical to achieving a rapid production ramp…So initially, the Model 3 configurators, it’s kind of going to be like what color do you want and what size of wheels do you want. That’s basically going to be the configurator.”

Single motor first: There will just be a single motor to begin with, according to Musk. “And then we will have the dual motor config, if we are lucky, toward the end of this year or more likely early next.” (Note: that on dual-motor configurations, one motor is optimized for highway travel and one is optimized for stop-and-go traffic.)

Model 3 wait period: over a year if you put a deposit down now. “I am guessing, if you put a deposit down on Model 3 now, it’s probably – well, it’s going to be over 1 year. End of next year before you get it, something like that,” Musk said at the annual shareholder meeting.

Service centers and Supercharger stations for Model 3 — big increase: “This year we will double the number of Tesla superchargers in the world. So double year-over-year. And I think next year, probably be at least 50% increase, may be double again next year.”  Tesla is also adding “a lot more service centers” in anticipation of Model 3 production, Musk said. That increase in service includes mobile more mobile service vans.

Photos: The 10 Most Dangerous U.S. Cities

Pricing / autopilot: we know the Model 3 starts at $35,000.  What about upgrades? Tesla includes hardware for Autopilot in the Model 3. For the Model S and X, “Enhanced Autopilot”** is a $5,000 option, which jumps to $6,000 if you activate it after delivery. “Full Self-Driving Capability”*** (which requires Enhanced Autopilot) costs $3,000 at delivery or $4,000 after.

Other news for the week ending July 23, 2017: more images popped on Reddit, including one of the back seat, as pointed out by Teslarati. “Looking at the photos of the front seat, it’s worth noting that they appear to be pushed-back, leading us to believe that the actual legroom of Model 3’s rear seat is substantial,” according to Teslarati. By the way, I can vouche for the back seat being roomy since I sat in the back when I took a test ride last year.

Model 3.

Credit: Reddit user ‘inamachineshop’

Model 3.

*Tesla Model 3 Week No.10 in a series.

**Enhanced Autopilot includes: going from one to four cameras for “greater accuracy, redundancy, and to see fast-approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes,” according to Tesla. In addition, “12 ultrasonic sensors provide 360 degree coverage around your car,” Tesla says. This allows the car to “match the car’s speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes without driver input, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway when your destination is near, and self-park when near a parking spot and be summoned to and from your garage.”

***Full Self-Driving capability “doubles the number of active cameras from four to eight, enabling full self-driving in almost all circumstances, at what we believe will be a probability of safety at least twice as good as the average human driver. The system is designed to be able to conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat. For Superchargers that have automatic charge connection enabled, you will not even need to plug in your vehicle,” according to Tesla.

 

GM may kill its Chevy Volt , other models

General Motors has put six of its cars under review, including its once breakthrough Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and is evaluating whether to cancel them in the coming years, according to a report from Reuters.

The news comes as sales of cars continue to plummet in the U.S. and as consumers increasingly turn to SUVs and pickups.

 Besides the Chevrolet Volt hybrid, other vehicles believed to be under consideration for elimination iinclude the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Sonic, according to Reuters.

GM spokesman Jim Cain declined to comment on the report.

UAW President Dennis Williams said Thursday the union is in ongoing discussions with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler about falling car sales and how to keep the automaker’s U.S. plants operating at full capacity.

FORBES/USA TODAY