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Tesla's critical Model 3 will be a family of vehicles, not just a car

Tesla's critical Model 3 will be a family of vehicles, not just a car

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Tesla CTO JB Straubel shed a little more light on the company's Model 3 at a conference in Washington today, The Wall Street Journal reports. It turns out that the 3 won't just be a sedan — there'll be a crossover version as well. That suggests that the Model 3 line will basically function as a "lite" version of the Model S and Model X portfolio when it finally comes to market later this decade. (That'll be 2017, unless the target slips.)

The Model 3 is a long-promised mass-market EV designed to take Tesla from a niche player to a high-volume automaker, and it's not an exaggeration to say that the company's long-term viability hinges on its success: Elon Musk has promised that the Model 3 will deliver at least 200 miles of range for $35,000 without rebates, making it a far more accessible vehicle than the Roadster, S, and X have been. But details of the Model 3 have been scarce, and Straubel didn't offer much beyond the revelation that it'll come in multiple flavors; he did say that Tesla has models planned beyond the Model 3, but of course it does — car companies are perpetually working on new cars.

In the shorter term, the Model X crossover is expected to make its first customer deliveries toward the end of this year, and comments at last week's investor conference by Musk suggest that the company is on target for those deliveries after several missed deadlines.

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