Tesla Motors Inc. has delivered on a promise that company co-founder and CEO Elon Musk made almost a decade ago.
For years, Tesla's electric vehicles (EVs) have been synonymous with other high-end cars that were unobtainable for the average driver, considered fantasy and infeasible in a petroleum-fueled world. Tesla began with the Roadster, a high-performance racecar designed to beat any combustion engine in a head-to-head matchup. Then it released the Model S, a consumer sedan, and the Model X, a sport utility vehicle. But at price tags around and exceeding $100,000, both of those EVs have remained solidly beyond the reaches of most consumer's wallets. But Musk has stated those vehicles were means to an end and that Tesla's "master plan" was to bring affordable EVs to market.
On Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016, Tesla unveiled its Model 3, a small EV designed to meet the needs of a family at a price of $35,000. The car won't go into production until 2017, but according to Musk, Tesla had already taken 115,000 preorders before unveiling the Model 3.
Even at $35,000, the Model 3 may seem unobtainable to the average American. However, considering the tax credits and the fact that these vehicles require very little maintenance over their useful life, the cost of ownership comes down to realistic levels.
The main sticking point remains as "range anxiety." These vehicles can cover only a limited distance on a full charge (Tesla says the Model 3 will go 215 miles before needing to stop for juice) and charging station availability. The EV market goes hand-in-hand with electrical infrastructure. If EVs are to truly become feasible for the average American, there will need to be an abundance of charging stations to keep them rolling. Of course, EV charging stations require electrical contractors for installation and maintenance.
The automobile industry is ablaze with the question of whether the average American will pay $35,000 for an EV. The question the electrical industry is concerned with is, if the answer to that question is yes, is the grid able to handle the demand that an influx of EVs will create. Most industry (both automobile and electrical) experts agree that EVs will be the future's staple mode of individual transportation. Getting there is going to require a lot more charging stations and infrastructure that can support the load. Electrical contractors are integral to that future.