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Tesla Model 3 lands in Oz ahead of 2019 launch

Pricing to be locked in, but Tesla Model 3 now on show to local customers

Tesla logo22 Aug 2018

TESLA Australia has become the first division outside the US to show its Model 3 to “thousands” of local customers who have placed a $1500 deposit for the medium-sized electric vehicle (EV) at least a year before they will be delivered.
 
A trio of left-hand-drive Model 3s have been imported, bound for three Tesla stores nationwide in middle-grade, rear-wheel drive, long-range battery specification, all with optional 19-inch alloy wheels and a ‘premium interior’.
 
A silver sedan is headed to Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley store, while red examples are each destined for Sydney’s Martin Place and Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre stores, initially for a private showing for customers this week – however the public is now invited to see the vehicle at the stores.
 
Tesla Australia senior manager of marketing and communications Heath Walker declined to specify how many locals had placed a deposit for the Model 3, but said it was in the “thousands” given how many had been invited to the showing.
 
“We are the first market outside the US to have cars in store,” Mr Walker told GoAuto at Tesla’s Sydney store this week.
 
“We’ve invited thousands, and we’ve had thousands RSVP across Australia. We’re inviting the public to come in from (Wednesday August 22), but we wanted to give our reservation holders a first look, an exclusive look. So we’ve closed the store completely to enable them to come in and have a look at the vehicle.
 
“They’ll get to have a look at the car essentially. So, we’ll answer questions in the queue while they’re queuing up, and then they’ll get about five minutes in the vehicle to actually sit in and experience and see what it's like. I guess that will help prepare them for future choices when they do go in to design their car.”
 
Currently those placing a $1500 deposit have only been able to hold a reservation for a generic Model 3, unable to yet select a model grade, options, an exterior colour or interior trim – and nor have they been told the exact price.
 
However, Mr Walker confirmed that Australia will follow the US with three Model 3 model grades – the entry-level rear-wheel drive short-range battery, the middle-tier version with a long-range battery, and the ‘performance’ with the latter’s big battery but laos quicker acceleration and goodies such as a track mode.
 
Unlike with the Model S, which has badging that denotes the size of the battery pack in kilowatt hours, such as the 75 (75kWh) and 100 (100kWh), Mr Walker said that Tesla will not confirm or refer to the battery size in the Model 3.
 
“We don’t give away the size of the battery, so we've got a standard battery and a long-range battery,” he explained.
 
“We’ve found that a lot of people don’t understand what kilowatt hours are, so we’re just keeping it based on range, because the wider population which is more appropriate for this vehicle, just want to understand how far they can go. 
 
“So there’s standard battery, long-range with rear-wheel drive, and then you’ve got long-range with dual motor and all-wheel drive, and long-range dual-motor with performance (option). Standard battery is approximately 350km (range), and the long-range battery is 500km.”
 
The slowest Model 3 takes 5.6 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100km/h and costs from $US35,000 Stateside, which should translate to a circa-$50,000 pricetag for local buyers.
 
Meanwhile, the quickest version takes 3.5s to hit triple digits, which Mr Walker confirmed would stretch beyond the luxury-car tax (LCT) limit of $A75,526 for fuel-efficient vehicles (that use less than 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres).
 
As such, the flagship Model 3 could compete against the likes of the Audi RS3 sedan, as well as BMW M2 and Mercedes-AMG A45, in performance and cost, but Mr Walker would not be drawn on its direct rivals.
 
“I don’t know what the competitors are, but a lot of the reviews online so far have been really positive around its performance and the ability that it’s got a track mode in it, which … (will) be fully customisable too,” he said.
 
“You’ll be able to customize the performance of your Model 3 to take it out on the track and do all kinds of things … so drift and other stuff as well.
 
“(But) all it is, is reservation holders at the moment, so these people put down $1500 to get their position in line, so we’re giving them an opportunity to see the car that they’ve put money down on … and then that’s always been fully refundable.”
 
Even if a customer ordered a Model 3 now, however, Mr Walker still said a potential buyer would be given an indicated late-2019 delivery date.
 
“We know based on the timeline of ramping up (right-hand drive production) that it will be mid-2019,” he said.
 
“At the moment we’d say late-2019 (delivery), but then when they come in to order they’ll get a more accurate time, because once we start production, we’ll know what levels we're producing at.
 
“And price, we don’t want to give away yet because we’d be silly based on (changing) exchange rates.”

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