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Elon Musk shares video of near-final Model 3, but says he won’t drive one

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He tweeted a lot this morning

Elon Musk / Twitter

Tesla CEO Elon Musk today shared the first video of what he calls a “release candidate” version of Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 electric car. We’ve seen Model 3 prototypes before, and this five-second clip doesn’t really show us anything new — but Musk enjoys feeding the hype train.

He also noted that calling the new car the “Model 3” was sowing confusion among customers about whether it was the “next version” of Tesla’s car, like Apple going from the iPhone 2 to iPhone 3 — “not true,” Musk said.

He called himself “a dumb idiot” for naming it Model 3, saying he “didn’t realize at the time that it would cause confusion.” Instead, he says customers should think of the Model 3 as similar to the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, while the Model S is like a BMW 5 or 6 Series — different cars but sold side by side. Musk noted that he will keep driving the Model S even after the Model 3 arrives.

In an anecdote we’ve known for a while, Musk reminded followers that the Model 3 was originally going to be named the Model E (“for obvious dumb humor reasons” — meaning the cars would be Models S, E, and X), but a Ford trademark lawsuit prevented that from happening. Next up, naturally, is Model Y. S3XY.

As part of his tweetstorm this morning — which occurred during a flight to Cape Canaveral for a SpaceX rocket launch — Musk replied to a number of current and potential Tesla customers about what’s coming from the company in the coming months. Among other things, he said:

  • The first Model 3 cars will all be rear-wheel drive, much like the Model S was, to make production a bit simpler. All-wheel drive / dual-motor versions will come six to nine months after launch.
  • Performance versions of the Model 3 will come “probably a year from now,” though the Model S will remain faster because it has room for a larger battery.
  • “More cowbell” will be coming in the Tesla 8.1 software update, which is expected next week. It’s a reference to a Will Farrell Saturday Night Live skit of which Musk is a fan. Previous versions of Tesla’s vehicle operating system have included Easter eggs referencing cowbell.
  • The Model 3 will have a single screen combining instrument cluster and infotainment information in one place. Hinting at possible increased autonomy, Musk asked how often riders look at the instrument panel in a taxi.