Elon Musk knows how to work social media. Last spring, he orchestrated a gala unveiling party for the Tesla Model 3, the affordable midsize sedan coming in 2018. Affordable is a relative term, of course, but the Model 3 will be about half the price of Teslas current cars — the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. Cleantechica’s Zachary Shahan and Kyle Field attended that event in person, but somehow my invitation got lost in the mail.
That was Part One of the Model 3 roll out and it was staggeringly successful. Within a week, Tesla had taken reservation fees from 380,000 people around the world, many of whom stood in line for hours in rain and freezing temperatures to secure a low reservation number. Part Two came just a few weeks ago when Tesla announced that all cars manufactured after October 19 of this year will have a new hardware package consisting of 8 cameras, a dozen ultrasonic sensors, and a forward looking radar.
The second generation hardware will enable a new upgraded Autopilot 2.0. Tesla says it will start activating selected features of that system in December and continue adding functions via over the air updates in coming months. The hardware will also allow Tesla to make all cars so equipped into full Level 5 self driving cars when and if regulators grant approval for autonomous cars on public roads.
What does that have to do with the Model 3? Well, that car will most definitely be built after October 19, 2016, so everyone of them will have the second generation hardware installed at the factory.
On November 17, Tesla held a press conference to announce the results of the vote on the proposed merger with SolarCity. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, by the way. In the Q&A session afterwards, someone asked Musk when Part 3 of the Model 3 reveal would take place. Musk was flustered by the question at first and dismissed it as not pertinent to the topic of the day. Then he blundered his way into uncharted territory, as he is known to do.
“Today is not the time for that announcement, but, I mean — it’s probably, yes, I don’t know, beginning of spring or something like that, yes. Three or four months from now,” he said.
What will be Part 3 be all about? Nobody except a few trusted people inside the company know for sure but the speculation is that is will involve an advanced heads up display, similar to the augmented reality navigation system Volkswagen showed off recently. Tesla fans assume the Model 3 system will be far superior and way cooler than anything Volkswagen could ever come up with.
When we will know details? As Elon says, “Three or four months from now.”