Insiders offer hints about the Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is what the company has been aiming at all along — an affordable electric car with at least 200 miles of range that will propel the market for electric cars forward in the same way the Model S did back in 2012. Now that the Model X has been launched, Tesla is concentrating all its efforts on finalizing the production details for the Model 3.

Daniel Hoffmann, a CleanTechnica regular, happened to be in a hotel lobby recently where he struck up a conversation with David Imai, Design Manager at Tesla Motors. Mr. Imai was not giving away any company secrets, but did say that the Model 3 would be “amazing.”

Hoffman says, “I…asked him if it will be a shrunken Model S and he said it will be similar, but it will have a very special design. I also asked if there will be any delay, and he said very firmly “No.” Imai confirmed that the car is on track for its official public unveiling in March of 2016.

That last part is important. As wonderful as the Tesla Model S and Model X are, both were more two years late getting to market. In fact, the Model X is not in full production even now. Although it was introduced in September, various delays getting needed parts have slowed production to a crawl.

Meanwhile, Tesla is burning through cash at a startling rate and investors are getting nervous. Despite Elon Musk’s constantly sunny predictions (and he does have a rather remarkable record of success in business), there is a history in the auto business of high profile failures. Tesla absolutely needs to get the Model 3 into full production in 2017 as promised, or it may suffer a similar fate.

Meanwhile, sources are telling Electrek that Elon Musk is pushing his people to make the Model 3 as aerodynamic as possible. The target is a coefficient of drag of .20 or less. If they can pull that off, the Model 3 will have the lowest Cd of any production car.

Drag is a critical factor for electric cars. The more energy it takes to push the car through the air, the lower its available range will be. Building a car that costs less than half that of a Model S will require using a smaller battery, but a smaller battery won’t have the same range. To hit its 200 mile range target, the Model 3 will need to be as light as possible and slip through the air with a minimum of drag.

Tesla may be experimenting with special low rolling resistance tires for the Model 3 and may even be considering covers over the rear wheel wheels to reduce turbulence and lower drag. It is also said to be trying once again to get regulators to approve cameras that replace side view mirrors.

Excitement will be at a fever pitch when the coming out party for the Model 3 happens next March.