Tesla Model 3: the iPhone of transport

The Tesla Model 3 is the Ford Model T for the digital age.


The Tesla Model 3 has been billed as the Ford Model T of the digital age a car that will bring electric motoring to the masses, says Mark Harris in The Sunday Times. Elon Musk, the firm's founder, thinks it will be the iPhone of transport, converting electric cars from the playthings of millionaires or tinny runabouts for hippies into must-have gadgets for the populace.

Like those gadgets, it will also come as a "platform" something that can grow and change over the years as new technology becomes available to download. But the future of the car all hinges on one thing: what's it like to drive?

Early electric vehicles had all the appeal of milk floats, says Harris, but Tesla models have outperformed most conventionally powered rivals. The new Model 3 is no exception. The motor is immediately responsive to a press of the accelerator and the car sets off with a kick. It accelerates from rest to 60mph in less than six seconds and has a range of at least 200 miles, according to Tesla. (A premium model will be a bit faster and have a range of 310 miles.)

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The strong regenerative braking, which feeds kinetic energy back into the batteries, means the car slows automatically, so you scarcely need to use the brakes at all. The car will also drive itself. It's like driving the Starship Enterprise.

I've driven pretty much every other all-electric car you can buy, and I can safely say that the Tesla Model 3 has no competition, says Matthew DeBord for Business Insider. "It is really something else."

The lovely minimalist interior is all leather and open-grain wood (in the premium model), with tasteful brushed metallic accents, a 15-inch touchscreen where the dash would be and a roof made almost entirely of glass. The seats are comfy and supportive, and on the road "it's snappy". In short, the Model 3 "stokes immediate desire, and the lust lingers. That truly changes everything".

Prices are expected to start at around £30,000 after government grants when it goes on sale in the UK. As the car has only a handful of moving parts, it is also said to be almost maintenance-free.

Stuart Watkins

Stuart graduated from the University of Leeds with an honours degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and from Bath Spa University College with a postgraduate diploma in creative writing. 

He started his career in journalism working on newspapers and magazines for the medical profession before joining MoneyWeek shortly after its first issue appeared in November 2000. He has worked for the magazine ever since, and is now the comment editor. 

He has long had an interest in political economy and philosophy and writes occasional think pieces on this theme for the magazine, as well as a weekly round up of the best blogs in finance. 

His work has appeared in The Lancet and The Idler and in numerous other small-press and online publications.