Posted on August 29, 2018 by Matt Pressman
Many automotive journalists have taken a liking to the Model 3. But Sam Smith (via Road and Track) ponders what Tesla's lower-priced, electric vehicle says about the future of automobiles. Could this car represent a turning point for the auto industry? In a broader sense, could the Model 3 challenge the reign of the internal combustion engine? To start, Smith writes that, "The Tesla isn’t perfect, but it’s undeniably a milestone... I was reminded of a Sixties Mini, in terms of democratization of a form factor. And ideas around which others pivot."
Above: A look at the Tesla Model 3 (Image: CleanTechnica)
Smith explains that the Model 3 isn't a "commuter penalty box" like other EV efforts from legacy automakers. Instead, he says, "The Model 3 looks like a stylish, adult device. More than half a million people put down a deposit to buy one... [In contrast] the Bolt looks like a cartoon beaver that ate too many doughnuts, and it isn’t exactly flying off lots. I’m told the Chevy drives well, but to paraphrase Coco Chanel, it’s a lot easier to sell pretty than it is to sell Good Lord, Helen, Why Did You Wear That?"
And it's not just the Model 3's good looks that make it stand out. The silent, ninja-like performance reminds Smith that the Model 3 EV might foreshadow the future. So much so, he has to reconsider the internal combustion engine itself. He questions "the collective grumble of thousands of dirty little explosions, exhausting under nearby bumpers. If you possess an ounce of logic, you think, Hell, what are we doing? Digging up large bits of the planet just to burn them? Pipes pumping stinko gases into the air? Who thought this madness was sustainable?"
Above: Discussing the Tesla Model 3 after a test drive (Youtube: Miami Herald)
Perhaps, "the automobile as we know it will go the way of horses." Smith says, "this is the thing with the Model 3... Good EVs prompt this stuff, because they work like ordinary cars, no excuses or caveats. Your brain moves from the singular product to the situational long tail." The novelist Warren Ellis once said, "the future sneaks up on us, in the fringes of daily life." Smith says, this kind of impact is much "like the Model 3" and its surprising emergence in the automotive world.
Sure, Smith acknowledges a few Model 3 panel gaps and growing pains with production, "but the car was still impressive... Even with issues of quality and company, the car is enough of a solved question to make you look at the calendar. It’s a lens into a world where cars like it take over. It feels real, and it makes you feel sheepish for a want, however small, to hold on to the old."
Source: Road and Track