Never let it be said that Tesla doesn’t learn from its mistakes. The great ones always do. Last September, it made a complete hash of its official introduction of the Model X. It started by inviting 5,000 people. There wasn’t enough room for everyone; people were herded back and forth from one room to another. Most ended up watching the event on a big screen television next door.
Elon Musk was two hours late getting things started. One disgruntled customer took to social media afterwards to blast Musk for his inept handling of the whole cockamamie affair. Musk immediately responded by cancelling the man’s Model X reservation, claiming he doesn’t build cars for “super rude” people. That fit of pique may be reason enough to rethink whether we really want to appoint Elon Musk our global Emperor For Life.
This time, Tesla is getting smart. It is limiting the guest list to just 800 people. 150 will be company bigwigs, other notables, and those who won the privilege during the company’s last owner referral program that ended December 31. The other 650 will be current Tesla owners, each of whom received an official invitation from Tesla on Tuesday. Those who respond will be placed into a lottery pool. Tesla will select the winners and notify them by Thursday. Everyone not invited will be able to watch the event via live stream according to a tweet from the company on Tuesday. Live streaming is set to begin at 8:30 pm PDT.
— Tesla (@Tesla) March 15, 2016
The photo Tesla chose for that tweet really got people scratching their heads. The car in black certainly looks like a lower, narrower Model S, doesn’t it? According to TeslaMondo, that is simply a trick of the eye. “It seems to be not only narrower, but also lower than Model S — until you measure the image on your screen. It’s just a copy/paste of the Model S image. Black tends to shrink objects.”
So what will the Model 3 actually look like? No one except Elon Musk and few trusted employees knows for sure. And we might not even know that much more after the official unveiling. Elon said during the Q4 conference call with investors that he hadn’t decided whether to show the whole car. He hinted the public might only see photos of it at the reveal. Most details would be kept in-house until the date gets closer to begin manufacturing. After all, the car is still 18 months (at least) away from the assembly line. Why give competitors time to react to anything that is truly unique about the car? But now SlashGear is reporting the invitation sent to the members of the press promises fully operational prototypes will be on hand for them to drive on the day of the event.
Tesla has resolved the dilemma about when it will start accepting reservations for the Model 3. Some Left Coast denizens were worried that snooty East Coast types would be able to get earlier reservation numbers solely because the sun hits them first. A low reservation number gives a person bragging rights, apparently. Not to worry, says Tesla. No reservations will be accepted until 10 am PDT on March 31. That way everyone in the US has an equal chance to be one of the first to reserve a Model 3. Will rabid Tesla fans be camped out in the parking lots of Tesla stores all across America like anxious Christmas shoppers waiting for the doors to open at Walmart on Black Friday? Probably.
In the end, it won’t make all that much difference. Tesla will build the most expensive cars first. And it schedules its production schedule to maximize the efficiency of the factory, not by reservation number. That won’t stop lots of people from clamoring for an early reservation number, though. The official unveiling will be the media event of the year. For a company that refuses to advertise, Tesla is a master at gaining free publicity.
Just to whet your appetite, the video below is a collection of all the Model 3 concepts from would-be designers around the world. It will be interesting to see which of them resembles the actual car. Odds are none of them do. Elon Musk promises the Model 3 will be a “compelling car.” That suggests it will be something quite extraordinary. It will have four wheels for sure. After that? Who knows?