Op-Ed: Tesla Model 3, Waiting To Open The Barn Door For EVs

Tesla Model 3


Next month, Tesla intends to start delivering the long-awaited Model 3. Now, before I get started on the significance of this event I want to point out that I do not own a Tesla, and do not plan to buy one either. I might be interested in a Model 3 if it had an instrument cluster. I drove a Prius for years, and while I did get used to the lack of instrument cluster in front of me, I NEVER liked it.

The author’s current rides: Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3

So I just wanted to get it out of the way that I’m not a Tesla fanboy in that regard. I’m certainly capable of being critical of them. In fact, I’m actually a little bit concerned that their 400,000 reservations may evaporate when people see the car and notice that it has no instrument panel. I remember the Nissan Leaf had over 100,000 reservations in the USA. I was one of them. However, when the car became available, most of those people backed out for various reasons, including the range being less than was originally stated.

Being optimistic, however, let’s say that everything goes to plan. Tesla could start selling over 10,000 vehicles per month in the USA alone soon, as compared to the 3,100 per month they normally sell. In fact, by next year it could even be a great deal more than that. What could that mean for the industry? Much of what I’m about to say is speculation, but that’s part of what makes this coming year so exciting… we just don’t know.

I do tend to think Tesla will have a strong demand. I have encountered numerous people in the last few months that didn’t really know anything about EVs like the Volt, Leaf, or i3. But they told me they had a reservation down for a Model 3. A perfect example, I went to the local Firestone dealer to get some tires for my wife’s i3 and not a single employee there had ever heard of an i3 before. But one of them told me they had an reservation on a Tesla Model 3. So that’s the exact type of thing I tend to hear constantly.

Tesla Model 3 reservations currently hover somewhere close to 400,000

I’ve heard the phrase used, “the rising tide lifts all boats.” Will that happen? I tend to think so. I’m pretty sure that the Chevy Volt has seen increased sales as of late due to the awareness of the Chevy Bolt EV and Prius Prime, and people cross-shopping and doing their research. The only vehicles that stand to lose are the ones that are simply not competitive offerings, *cough* i-Miev, *cough* B250e.

New and more robust offerings raise awareness of the EV segment overall

In fact, the Prius Prime is still not fully stocked and we’ve yet to see how high the sales can go on that vehicle. Being how easily it displaces sales of the conventional Prius offering, I wouldn’t be shocked to see sales of that vehicle hit 10,000 or more per month. Realistically, I’m expecting more like 4,000 though or roughly double what it is currently selling.

And then there’s the new Nissan Leaf due out in a few months. It’s really hard to predict anything about that vehicle since Nissan has been so tight lipped. And we’ve yet to see what kind of real demand there is for the Pacifica Hybrid or the Hyundai Ionic, since supply is still so low on both vehicles.

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is there is a lot of sales potential in these new models and all of these will likely raise awareness of the EV segment and propel us to some percentage greater than the 1% EV sales are currently at. I also think there are a lot of people waiting for the Model 3, and once they drive one, they may change their mind and buy some other EV like a Bolt. So either way around, there are a lot of people sitting behind a barn door right now, just waiting for that door to be opened.

One sore point that many people have heard me groan on about is the horrible charging infrastructure in most of the country. But I think there is good news ahead for that. Once that sales percentage starts growing to 2%, then 3%, and onwards very rapidly, businesses will finally start investing more in charging infrastructure. Suddenly it will be a business that makes sense. Right now it’s a hard pill to swallow to invest in a station that costs $10,000 to install (or 10x that much for a DC fast charger) if it only gets used once per week. Then there’s all the ones from Volkswagen that should be getting built eventually.

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales (through May 2017)

I think a lot of auto-makers are watching too. If Tesla opens the barn door and the demand turns out to be less than expected, you can bet some of their electric projects will be shelved or scaled back. But if the sales are anywhere close to what Tesla has been forecasting, then other auto-makers will have no choice but to create competitive offerings.

Electric Cars

Chevrolet Bolt EV In Cajun Red Spice

Right now, there isn’t a lot of competition in the price/performance area of the Model-3 beside the Bolt EV. And that vehicle doesn’t seem to be selling as hot as many believed (although it seems to be pretty close to what GM forecast) Premium car companies like BMW, Audi, Lexus, and Mercedes will be the hardest hit. And while BMW has quite a few weak PHEV products, they don’t really have an EV or even a strong PHEV to compete with Tesla. So, you can bet they’ll introduce one as soon as possible if the Model 3 is a success.

A successful Model 3 will also have another added effect. It will give Tesla credibility. When they announced the Model 3, many car companies shrugged them off. Some of them may be regretting that soon. However, the risk to vehicles like the F-150, Silverado, Tahoe, and similar vehicles was negligible. But if the Model 3 is a big hit and then Elon starts talking more seriously about a Tesla pickup truck, then Ford and GM will have to get busy and start frantically working on an electric truck offering of their own. And that’s when the market will really start to see some big changes.

So are we about to hit that major growth area in the S-Curve? I hope so. I suspect once the market hits just 10% of electric vehicles, it will take less than one body-style generation for each and every vehicle on the market to become EV or PHEV. What I mean by that is, once we achieve a 10% market penetration, the other 90% will happen within 5-7 years. So the real question is, how long does it take to get to 10%?

So the whole point of this article? My opinion is that the next 6 months is going to tell us how the next decade is going to go. Will the transition to electric happen in 10 years, or 30 years? The answer will largely depend on the success or failure of the Model 3, and to a lesser extend the Prius Prime. So, even though I’m not a Tesla owner nor plan to be, more is riding on the success of their Model 3 than just Tesla itself. It’s an entire industry. So I’m going to be biting my nails for the next 6 months.

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106 Comments on "Op-Ed: Tesla Model 3, Waiting To Open The Barn Door For EVs"

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I think speculation makes the wait just a tad bit easier.

Not wanting one makes it a lot easier 😉

If Tesla can pull this off, the EV market will go nuclear! Now to address what others have talked about below. I HATE liver and onions but I am sure there are people who absolutely love them. I’ve seen the instrument panel on the Model S and I love the information that is displayed. I also love the center display panel and all that can be displayed on it. I like the fact that my driving/vehicle information is on my center display while the center display can be used for a multitude of other things. I also am not too keen on the idea that instead of my instrumentation being where it should be, I have to sacrifice screen space on my center panel to display speed, and other instrumentation. The center display screen is already smaller than the Model S and now using part of the screen for instrumentation seems a bit much. There has been a lot of talk about a HUD. I’ve never had one but am in total support for one. Why? It puts my instrumentation information where it should be, in front of my eyes and in plain view of the roadway. A HUD also… Read more »

My guess is Tesla is looking at every way to save costs, to keep this thing at $35k base. Maybe (speculation) they just went out on a limb and are only offering up the center display (with no driver-side stuff) to save costs, and they’re hoping that this won’t be a deal killer for most. They might be wrong. I have no idea, really – no more than anyone else posting here.

Hi Steve
Nice article.
But I need to understand why some people are so concerned about no central instrument display.
Why do you want a center display on a car that will at some point be able to drive it self?
I could be wrong but I think all transport aircraft have pilot feedback on displays that are below the forward view. If they have some sort of hud it is only used under manual control. If the pilots have no problem with not have a hud why are you? Is the the lack of a central display merely because you need something to entertain you?

“Why do you want a center display on a car that will at some point be able to drive it self?”

I’m guessing you meant to ask: Why would you want a secondary, smaller “instrument panel” display in front of the driver, instead of only the center display?

1. Because when you buy the car, and for some years afterward, it won’t be possible for it to fully drive itself.

2. Because even when full autonomy is available in wide areas, it still won’t be available on all roads. That dirt road on my grandpa’s farm… that ain’t gonna be electronically surveyed by any fancy high-tech van from Tesla or Waymo or Lyft or anybody else! And likely the same for gravel roads. In all likelihood, autonomy will be available only for paved public roads for some time.

3. See Optimistic’s comment above, about stealing screen space from the main screen.

“That dirt road on my grandpa’s farm… that ain’t gonna be electronically surveyed by any fancy high-tech van from”

Yeah, you REALLY need that instrument cluster to not break the speed limit or the nav in case you forgot where your grandpa lives 😉

I suspect

Think Musk is a genius and sincerely hope Tesla succeeds long term. Love the S and X (minus the complicated doors).

That said, I HATE that the 3 doesnt have a driver instrument cluster. Can’t overstate this…HATE IT. My reservation from the first day is in jeopardy because of this. Yes, autonomous driving is huge but honestly, I don’t care about that. The dash looks like a kit car.

That may be petty but still going to be a lot of money and I wont spend it on a car that I don’t like.

Well, as the man told Hud in the ’63 flick, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” No, there is no steam gauge in a Model 3. If you need to know how much coal is still left, then you must have enough gumption to look in the frunck yourself. It’s called the Information Age for a reason. What do you care if the car is driving? The cyborgs are going to eat your lunch anyway, and then make you sit by yourself.

“It’s called the Information Age for a reason.”

And that reason is not because people are denied access to information, as you seem to be advocating.

I’ve been impressed at the way Tesla has repeatedly upgraded the driver’s display screen to show far more info than is available on a traditional instrument panel. The “We’ll display just the speedometer on one corner of the main display screen” idea, for the Model 3, is not just one giant step backward; it’s several!

How very odd from a forward-thinking company like Tesla. This is an unforced error on the part of the company, and I think will be about as popular as New Coke.

If Model 3 doesn’t have an HUD… Then the aftermarket will.

Panasonic has had a nice HUD solution video on YouTube for some time. As they are already involved with the batteries, let them sell something specific for M3!

There are already solutions turning smartphones into HUDs for under $100.

What I can say, if I convert my reservation, my Model 3 will have some sort of HUD.

Next month we’ll all know for sure, and whether Tesla left themselves at the pier, or not.

Agree, and even though I have my deposit in, that big display is ridiculous. Feels like we should be running a spreadsheet while driving. Sow it, make it go away when not in use. See the MB EQ for a nice dashboard layout.

I meant easier to wait to see what happens. I am firmly in the ‘don’t want one’ party myself.

Tesla is the only plugin car maker to provide a nationwide charging network. The others don’t see that as important yet.

QUOTE: “One sore point that many people have heard me groan on about is the horrible charging infrastructure”

That’s because not a ton of people see it as important.

I am sure many people do see it as important but many don’t and that’s fine.

I would much rather have a cheaper car (as let’s face it you pay for SCs in the price of the car) and no SC option whatsoever than be forced to pay for it and not use it.

Where I live and where I drive there is more than sufficient charging options and I would much rather have the extra $ in my pocket. To that end though to those that do think it’s important than by all means please buy a Tesla. No problem with that.

Not including DC fast charging ability on a vehicle in 2017 would be very short sighed.

Also, You made a wrong turn and ended up on an EV enthusiast forum. I think you were looking for “Inside coal rollers” or “How to lose your shorts shorting Tesla” forums. 😀


You can keep saying this and that’s fine that it’s your opinion, but polls have shown over and over that you are in the very very very small minority on this issue.

Most don’t just think it’s important–They don’t think the current DC chargers are fast enough!

Well ya, neither are the SCs. I mean who really wants to wait 30 mins for even 200 miles of range when I can get 400+ miles in under 5 minutes from a gas station. Of course fast charging is important, it’s just however that none of the offerings currently available are good enough for the general public.

Of course fast charging is important. My point is that for the RARE times I would need DCFC that what they have now isn’t sufficient but it’s good enough as long as I don’t have to pay 😀

I also think there are a ton more people that are fine with not buying in to the SC network. After all the Leaf is the best selling EV worldwide right? Seems that quite a lot of people are ok with a lower range car that doesn’t have access to the SC network… However if you ask even all those owners I am willing to bet a lot will say that a fast charging ability is important. Duh.

“…polls have shown over and over that you are in the very very very small minority on this issue.”

I prefer actual polls, such as the one which showed 55% of plug-in EV owners have never used a public EV charger.

And not “alternative facts” polls like the ones you’re apparently talking about. A “very very very small minority”, my arse.

I still like the BMW solution, 120 miles of electric, then a range extending engine allows you to run and fill up as needed. Because some rural area’s may never get rapid charging.

I wish the i3 were more popular and copied by Toyota and GM. A Bolt REX would be nice.

But, the Tesla will still be the sleekest, long range EV on the market.

if they wanted go push this appfosch they would have put the tehnology on the 3 series

I’m with you David, the lack of anything like an instrument cluster, HUD or anything else is a bummer for sure. I still think there will be something else or that will be the shortest reveal in Tesla’ history. We have been flooded with pictures so we know what we know. Aside from range and battery size, what is there to reveal? When you see the interior of the Release Candidate, the WOW factor is rarely positive. Elon said ”you wont care” about the lack of a cluster. Unless he’s got a few hidden cards in a form of something similar to a HUD, a lot of people will cancel. I repeat, both Model S and X, in the prototype form had a floating screen and look what happened to the production version. I, for one, refuse to be fooled by the sparse dash of the RC cars cause if it’s the real thing, the reveal will fall on it’s ass, at a ludicrous speed.

I don’t get it. Why is an instrument cluster not in the center so important? I know it’s just me talking here, but I really don’t care. I really don’t. Just give me a reasonably attractive EV that gets 200 – 250 miles range, has good interior room/capacity and I’m good. Sparse interior be damned. I do not care about that. And the idea that a lot of folks will run screaming away from the 3 and its lack of instrument cluster, and into the arms of the warm, caring (and boring) Bolt I do not think will happen. The Bolt is hyper-boring design-wise, small out- and inside (it’s merely “larger than you’d think for a super small car” but still not objectively large or medium-sized inside), and just doesn’t present a good package to compete with the 3. Indeed, I predict it will not compete well with the 3 once that’s up and running (and keep in mind that I have absolutely no credentials or credibility in making that prediction). Full disclosure: I drive a Fiat 500e at the moment and can’t go back to gas now that I’ve had an EV, I’m in line to probably get a… Read more »
“…the idea that a lot of folks will run screaming away from the 3 and its lack of instrument cluster, and into the arms of the warm, caring (and boring) Bolt I do not think will happen.” No, most of them won’t run to buy a Bolt EV, because Chevy isn’t making that many of them. Most of the 400,000+ people who have a Model 3 reservation couldn’t get a Bolt EV if their life depended on it. They’ll just buy another gasmobile instead, or at best a Prius Prime. * * * * * Yes, there will be many who won’t care about using the main display screen for an oddly placed, anti-ergonomic designed instrument panel. And there will be many who do care. Arguing they won’t is denying reality pretty firmly, given the number of complaints about that already posted to InsideEVs. The question isn’t whether or not Tesla will lose potential sales over the lack of dedicated instrument panel; the question is how many Tesla will lose. Given the frequency of online complaints, my guess is they will lose a substantial potential. And I don’t have to be a genius to predict that when Tesla realizes just… Read more »

Well, Pushmi, Bolts are all over the place where I live (California). Certainly in other parts of the U.S., Bolts are scarce, but a potential Model 3 buyer in my neck of the woods can easily/quickly go get a Bolt, no problem.

I also firmly dispute that there are many who do care about the instrument cluster. Yes, there are a lot of posts from folks who deeply care about this issue, but how many is a lot? A hundred posts? A thousand? As is typical with anything on the internet, those who deeply care about something yell the loudest, even if they aren’t anywhere close to a majority or even a significant number of people, compared to the vast majority who don’t care and so don’t post. So, that’s my total speculation, which I’ll put up against your total speculation any day of the week!

Steve said:

“…a potential Model 3 buyer in my neck of the woods can easily/quickly go get a Bolt, no problem.”

Are you having problems following the reasoning? It’s pretty straightforward:

A: 400,000+ paid reservations for the Tesla Model 3

B: Only ~30,000 Bolt EVs to be made in a year

C: A > B, by a very wide margin

Same here, I see 3 Bolts a day now, and that doesn’t count my own. They’re all over the place. In fact, some might say they are so easy to get that GM accelerated the nationwide rollout to soak up production.

While sure that’s a small number next to 400,000, so is the number of Model 3s Tesla will produce and sell to customers this year. I assure you the 300,000th person in line for a Model 3 in the US has a FAR better chance of getting a Bolt this year than a Model 3.

Straw man:

Your argument does not address my own, but nice try.

“Most of the 400,000+ people who have a Model 3 reservation couldn’t get a Bolt EV if their life depended on it.”

Yes, my point does refute yours.

If their life depends on getting an EV they are far more likely to be saved by getting a Bolt than a Model 3. And statistically that extends worldwide, simply due to the near-term distribution of Model 3 sales and reservations.

‘Couldn’t get a BOLT if their life depended on it.’

Aw c’mon! This is just more of your ‘mommy’s basement’ nonsense.

If their life depended on it, they’d call up a Buffalo NY chevy dealership – where they are currently overstuffed with BOLTs, and this is in an area with very low EV purchase percentage, although the new $2000 NY State rebate might help.

If a model is popular, they add shifts. If it isn’t (rather like the poorly selling Malibu), they remove shifts and lay people off.

“Aw c’mon! This is just more of your ‘mommy’s basement’ nonsense.”

Gosh, I’ll try to bear up under the terrible weight of criticism from a tinfoil-hat wearer who has claimed, among other things:

A. That the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory is real

B. That Tesla has somehow been able to avoid the safety-mandated manual shutoff switch for the high-voltage parts of its Supercharger stations

C. That diesel generators provide much of the power used by DC fast chargers on hot days

All in all, Bill… well, it’s not that I suspect you’re still living in your mommy’s basement; I don’t think you’re that independent. It’s more like you need a minder if you ever venture outside.

(And if anyone doubts that Bill did actually make the ridiculous claims in “B” or “C”, see the links below:)



Your comments are so idiotic that you can’t even understand what I have said, or didn’t say. The first two are beyond your ability to comprehend – I’ve already quoted ad nauseum what the operative National Electrical Code requirements are, but the shoe is on your foot to prove that I have said anything which is the slightest bit in error. As regards item C, this is too sophisticated for you to understand, but load shedding arrangements for utilities end up with the defacto situation of many diesel-generators running BUT (AND THIS IS K E Y 🙂 zero percent of their generated electricity ends up at any running supercharger at the time. Also – my inarticulate friend, you didn’t have any response to the subject at hand, but you think you’ve come up with a decent bag of tricks to somehow discredit me. As far as living in mommy’s basement – I’ve accused you of that it is true, but then you fit the stereotype – The rest of us, though we have an interest in EVs, have to work or perform other chores and we can’t be here 18 hours a day to respond to your nonsense. You are… Read more »

I think that spending more time on your point and less on attacking another’s character probably would be a more effective arguing technique. You can dump on others all you want (whether accurate or not) and it still doesn’t mean you’re right.

Yeah, that is why when someone throws several Snowballs at me, I throw at least one back.

You at least own a BOLT, (he doesn’t own any ev) but you constantly make silly criticisms when you yourself can’t figure out how the cruise control works. It had to be explained to you exactly what the 4 arrows do on the left side of the steering wheel.

SO when I get your occasional snowballs Unlucky, (you afraid to use your real name?), I throw it back.

The point remains, and I’m serious here – tell me ONE THING that I have stated which is the slightest bit incorrect, and then I can discuss it. But name calling without being able to discuss issues is childish.

I’m ‘child-shameing’ him – unfortunate that I have to do this to a 63 year old who has never grown up.

If you guys want a mature discussion about issues, say something mature.

Oh, you were criticizing Pushi – not me -.

My apologies Unlucky. I didn’t spot the ‘indent’ soon enough.

Is there a moderator on this site:(

ps… have I said that I REALLY REALLY want an instrument cluster in my next car which I have committed to being electric:)

Go Tesla!

Lots…but its one of those things we just don’t get into. Would we like everyone to get along? For sure. But sometimes frequent personalities clash, and clash often. The issue with “tighter moderation” is you get into shades of gray, and needing a deeper understanding of what is actually been said in the comment, and the discussion thread, the history of the issue, etc (such as this one). And when you do that, there is a lot more of “hey why you moderate my comment?” as opposed to today when we just moderate for language, site slander, and excessive/unprompted slander of another commenter. Over the past month IEV has had ~42,000 comments – no one nets more comments on an online auto site…well, maybe Jalopnik or one or two others. Point is, its a lot. So to even attempt to moderate that type of volume, the persons looking over the comments has to surf them really, really quickly – like a Internet ninja…there really isn’t time to get “deep” into what is being said, or to ferret out the more subtle back and forth and come up with a ‘valuation’ if a comment should stay or go. Put another way,… Read more »

Steve, you don’t have to get it, you don’t care and i do. To each is own, i guess. It’s all good. Why on earth would you compare the 3 to a Bolt? Very different target buyers. Would you compare a Cady with a firefly, they both have a gas engine? Would you compare an S and a Bolt? No, different league, totally. Humans resist change, it’s normal. Once most cars are autonomous, fine, get rid of the cluster but we are a few years before legislation allows that and ’til then, we will have to drive the cars even if technology is ready for level 5. I for one don’t understand why people buy black cars. I like more joyfull colors but it’s a choice, like having a cluster… or a HUD. I live in Canada and the price of the 3 might just be over $50K CAD for a base model. That’s a lot of money for such a bland interior finished by a polished 2X4. I may just end up buying a used S.

Driverguy: Right – to each his own, instrument clusters or otherwise. While not my personal concern, everybody has their passion – I’m cool with that. And you’re dead-on, in my opinion, that humans resist change. I’m human, and I resist change all the time, but for whatever reason that doesn’t extend to shifting my car’s instrument display a bit to the right. I don’t know why this fails to raise passion or concern in me, but for me it just doesn’t. I agree, why on earth *would* you compare the 3 to a bolt? That’s really my question to the author of the article, who seems to be doing just that, at least when he says this: ” I also think there are a lot of people waiting for the Model 3, and once they drive one, they may change their mind and buy some other EV like a Bolt.” They are indeed two different cars, for two different audiences, in my completely speculative and unfounded opinion. Maybe what will happen upon test driving the 3 is a lot of the reservation holders will *discover* that they’re not the Tesla type, that they’re really more the Bolt type of person.… Read more »

Tesla can tease and hint, the fans swoon. I have never seen a car company do this so well.

I’ve been driving a Leaf for 3 years now and soooooo many people still have no clue about BEV even if they’ve heard about Tesla. What will happen as more model 3 are on the road is that we’ll get more butts in seats. As awareness of all the goodness of EVs increases more people will actually consider getting one. The only question is how close we are to that inflection point.

FYI, Canadian Leaf owners can now extend their lease for 1 year with 3 payments free just like the US. I’ve taken advantage of that to see what Leaf 2.0 will bring.

I’ve been driving Leaf for 6 years and just ran into someone who had no idea there was a BEV other than Tesla! They had never heard of the Leaf.

I know somebody who had never heard of the Leaf or any EV until a few months ago. Then they were in a dealership getting their car fixed, and drove away a Leaf on the same day because they were selling them at such a good deal.


Here in the EV wasteland of western PA, I drove my 12 Leaf for 3 years without ever meeting another Leaf driver. In my company of 400 people, I was the only EV driver the entire 3 years. In fact, I went 7 months before I even saw another Leaf on the road.

Even now, they’re rare. But I do see Teslas fairly regularly.

Nice article – enjoyed reading it!

I think Tesla has a short window that they are frantically trying to hit with the Model 3.

– There are more and improved EVs coming.
– Tax breaks/rebates/grants will start to phase out
– At least some of the “dinosaur” car makers (as some here referred to them) *WILL* wake up and apply their vast resources and capabilities.

While you mention the next year will be interesting, I think what follows will be truly telling

Dead on. Tesla has a window to get the Model III out there. Once they have, it is an established vehicle brand reaching multiple market segments, and the market will accept and recognize their semi and pickup trucks, plus the weird mole-bus thing and the Dune-like giant earth-worm from some crazy 60’s sci-fi short story.

If Tesla were to not get the Model III out, yeah, the established ICE brands would trounce them. If VW had a 200+ mile (EPA) Jetta for $35k, that would decline the Model III demand, assuming it also had full autonomy. Likewise for other brands.

Regarding the center console… Elon said we won’t care. Something is not fully-revealed.

“Regarding the center console… Elon said we won’t care. Something is not fully-revealed.”

I really hope you are right on this because I am struggling with that one big time!

Tesla is easily 10 years ahead of most car manufacturers and the longer they keep dragging their feet, the harder it will become for them to even compete at all.

Tesla is not more than one or two years ahead of the other automakers at best and in some cases not at all. I don’t think Tesla has any sort of lead on GM in terms of EV tech. The VW e-Golf is a great EV, with only the battery capacity being a problem. Nissan has been pumping out EVs as long as Tesla and once again the only short coming is range (I think the e-Golf is a nicer car, but the Leaf works fine). Where exactly is Tesla ahead in terms of EV tech? I see battery capacity. I see charging network​ (not exactly part of the car itself, but still valid) and that’s really about it. I suspect within 3 years you’ll see 200+ mile versions of the e-Golf, Leaf and Ioniq and the charging network will be much more fleshed out on three years too. So there’s definitely not a ten year lease in any of those areas. Self driving it’s hard to say. I’m not sure Tesla is actually ahead there either, they’re just more aggressive about rolling it out, and done might argue somewhat reckless. I’m doubting a ten year lead in that area… Read more »

Only “car people” care about instrument clusters. Most cars owners are not cat enthusiasts, it won’t make a difference.

Or I’m totally wrong! 🙂

I think everyone who doesnt want a speeding ticket would like to have the speed displayed and most would want the remaining juice, and turn signals also but the rest is irrevalant to me and could be on the center display…
A cheap tiny small little LCD could easly acomplish this…

It seems to me that Tesla could use the sensor system in autopilot to follow the speed limit for you. It doesn’t need to be a full autopilot feature. Think of it as cruise control on steroids

The speed IS displayed quite prominently in the extreme upper left hand corner of the screen, right next to the steering wheel.

I disagree. I think most car owners are indeed cat enthusiasts.


Maybe you are right on the, “car people” comment… I never thought of that but would put myself in that seat. Don’t look at my current dash that often but I like it being there and like the looks of it. It is sexy and stands out as a partial statement about the car itself.

Just can’t get over having a simple non-instrument laden dash in front of me.

I think that’s pretty crazy to think only “car people” want a speedometer and charge gauge. Those gauges are pretty ubiquitous for no one caring about them.

Tesla not only provides the most attractive cars, they also have the best chargers.

When can others car companies accept the fact J1772, CCS Combo and Chademo plugs are simply ugly and switch their charging port to Tesla connector.

It’s about time to standardize charging infrastructure

+10 EVs won’t go far (literally or figuratively) until a universal charging standard is adopted for North America.

A standard has been selected, and it’s not Tesla’s proprietary connector. The “attractiveness” of the connector would be just about the most absurd aspect to base a standards decision on too.

“I have encountered numerous people in the last few months that didn’t really know anything about EVs like the Volt, Leaf, or i3. But they told me they had a reservation down for a Model 3.” Which, if true in the market, would be the most worrisome for Tesla 3 sales. It sounds like people who are buying for brand name vs. buying an EV. Getting a “cheap” luxury vehicle. I’d expect a lot them to drop out. On the flip side, I know people who are knowledgeable, who got low emissions vehicles but have issues because the car is not attractive and lacks range. The base Tesla 3 addresses both issues and its fast so people don’t have to take crap from the bonehead nephew in his Camaro. So I think the Model 3 will do well and do well at the bottom, the base $36,200 vehicle. If people want a front display, they can get a Navdy HUD unit which will give it a space ship control effect. So Tesla should be able to sell a LOT of base Model 3’s. Biggest message for the car mfgs. is make it look like a cool car. A top end… Read more »

“Which, if true in the market, would be the most worrisome for Tesla 3 sales”
It is exactly what Tesla mission is…to get everyone into evs so the fact that some know nothing about them but still want to buy is a good thing.


“If people want a front display, they can get a Navdy HUD unit which will give it a space ship control effect”

We shouldn’t have to slap on after market stuff for the driver instrument cluster.

Comparing Tesla 3 to Leaf is ridiculous. Leaf at about $35K, 80 mile-ish range, and performance of $15K car made no sense. Tesla 3 is also $35K, but it is competitive to gassers in performance. Even if Tesla 3 is a gasser of only 200 miles range, it would be competitive.

You might say Tesla 3 will lift all EV, but as you mention, not the crappy ones. Tesla 3 effectively will set the bar for what $35K car should be, gasser or EV. Some gassers are pretty close while most EV are not.

When Tesla 3 is out, pretty much all the EV on the market will seem crappy, maybe except for IoniqEV due to low cost and high efficiency as bragging rights.

Yes. 200/250 is the new 80, range-wise.

In the next 1-2 years, how exactly will similarly priced EV’s (in the $35k range)that go even 140 miles or so ever compete with the new gen’s that get you almost 250 miles for the same, even slightly lower price?

Just by the numbers, it will be a bloodbath for all the other EV’s except the Bolt and T-3.

Even Bolt isn’t all that great compared to gassers of similar price. But even if Bolt is exactly like Tesla 3 (performance, looks, etc), Tesla 3 wears the more premium brand of Tesla badge, not Chevy.

Bolt will some on performance and coolness indicators, but will get back some on practicality and proper instrument cluster.

Is the Bolt performance going to be that much worse? I don’t think so, not for an average guy who comes from an average ICE propelled car. The M3 will always lose in the instrument department and practicality factor, until Musk will cave in … he will at some point, when all the fan-base got their M3 and he needs new customers.

I’m trying to imagine in what reality Tesla Model III sales will somehow boost the Fiat 500ev. Other than government mandates to support local factories, I don’t see that as a free market effect. Fiat needs to compete with the Renault Zoe on price and range and reliability. They do not.

I agree. Compliance cars like the 500e, which still seems to have no roadmap past its current 85-mile range, are doomed.

I like my 500e, but I have no illusions that it’s a car I want to have for any length of time past its lease expiration.

Here is one scenario where the Model 3 increases 500e sales:

Dude (or chick) gets a ride in a buddy’s TM3. Goes ape-dung-crazy about unbelievable it is to ride in.

Dude (or chick) checks there bank account and sees no cash.

Fiat offers a $69/month lease at a huge discount just so they can get their ZEV credits without having to buy them from Tesla and help Tesla’s profits.

Dude (or chick) who knew nothing about EV’s until they rode in a TM3 realized they can afford $69/mo by just not buying gas and paying for repairs for their old ICE jalopy.

TM3 just sold a 500e. Done.

I don’t think it makes sense that you’re comparing “$35K” EVs to $35K gas cars. Those EVs are really only $25K after rebates. The extra $10K is also only due to the high battery costs. And other than range the EVs stack up fine compared to gas cars in their actual price range. Have you ever driven a Prius or a Civic? They are sluggish as hell. A Leaf is way better than both.

It’s questionable whether the Model 3 will even be faster than the Bolt. Range doesn’t appear much better. The interior certainly looks worse. So, I don’t see how Tesla is exactly raising the bar here either.

Current car – Watch road, glance down at display slightly obstructed by steering wheel. Look back up at road. NBD.

Model 3 – Watch road, glance down diagonally at display that is completely unobstructed. Look back up at road. NBD.

I guess I just don’t get the big deal…

DUDE! You had to glance diagonally! Do you have any idea what that means?!

He has good mobility in his neck?

Great article David! I too am disappointed by the lack of instrumentation in plain view while driving, but I am willing to hold judgement until I drive Model 3. I understand the motivation for consolidating to one screen. The Tesla infotainment system is far better than any other vehicle I have used (BMW, LEAF, other Nissan’s, Volt, and dozens of rental car models). Apple CarPlay was pretty good on the Volt 2.0 I rented for a week recently, so I would be find with the Bolt system. The main problem with Bolt/LEAF vs. Model 3 is for roughly the same price, buyers would get the cache of Tesla and the lux sports sedan look. That will segment the market more than any specific feature of either car. BMW 3 series drivers are unlikely to take the Bolt, just like a conservative Camry driver might not want a Tesla parked in their driveway. But there is certainly a ton of people out there that still don’t know there are cars that plug in or cars without an ICE. I still end up explaining that to some people. The media surrounding Model 3 will start to change that. 2018 is going to… Read more »
I’ve given up on predicting when the EV revolution will finally enter the strong growth part of “S”-curve exponential growth. I don’t know if the Model 3 will be the tipping point or not. I hope so! But I’ve been disappointed in the past. But David, you absolutely are correct to say that once we get to 10% market penetration, the acceleration in sales beyond that point will be quite dramatic, and those who have not considered the implications of the “S” curve will be amazed at how fast it happens. “A rising tide floats all boats.” Yes, that’s a very good analogy here. As more and more people start driving PEVs (Plug-in EVs), they’ll be seen less and less as a weird, offbeat thing that normal people wouldn’t even consider, and more and more as a normal and reasonable choice. If Joe Average’s neighbor and a couple of his co-workers buy EVs, and talk about how enjoyable they are to drive, and maybe even let him test drive one, then Joe is much, much more likely to seriously consider a PEV the next time he shops for a car. * * * * * P.S. @David Murray: How nice… Read more »

I also agree that the analogy, “a rising tide lifts all boats” is a good one, though nuanced.

A successful and prevalent T-3 will not lift 85-mile range boats, like the Fiat 500e (which I have, which is literally a grudgingly made compliance car that only accidentally is fun to drive), or even slightly-over-100 mile range boats (of which there still seem to be a bunch). What the rising tide will do, is raise awareness of decent EVs with decent range at decent prices, and raise the pressure on other car manufacturers to step up and put out 200-mile-plus range EV’s.

Steve said:

“A successful and prevalent T-3 will not lift 85-mile range boats, like the Fiat 500e (which I have, which is literally a grudgingly made compliance car…”

Well, to quote Mark Twain: “All generalizations are false, including this one.” 😉

I certainly agree that a car which is not made to be competitive, isn’t going to suddenly become competitive just because EVs become popular.

The rising tide of the EV revolution won’t help the sales of “compliance cars”**, for which the car maker had no intention or hope of making a profit, and thus no motive to increase production!

**And this isn’t a bid to re-start the argument over what is or isn’t a “compliance car”. If your definition of “compliance car” includes cars for which the auto maker actually has a hope of making a profit by selling, then let us just agree to disagree on the meaning of the term “compliance car”.

I think things are not actually so dire for the 100ish mile EVs in the next year or so because they can still compete on price. However any serious manufacturer is going to be trying to get range up to 200 miles ASAP. I doubt in three years there will be any new 100 mile EVs being sold, and if so they’ll basically be being given away.

What we will see in 2018 + 2019 will be decisive for what will happen in the next decade.

Model 3 reveal last year was truly a turning point in EV history. Tesla hit it right with a more mass market EV and a new bar-set for minimum range (200 miles +).

Since then, all serious Auto Manufacturers have stepped up to announce and produce (GM’s Bolt is an example) of an EV that fits this “new minimum bar”. And with this all the other EV buz has following including a dramatic increase in EVSE’s worldwide and planned growth for these, more incentives and more awareness (although we still have a long way to go on that, especially here in North America).

I firmly believe that March 31 2016 is a historic turning point and the start of the real EV Tsunami for many reasons.

Whether or not Tesla produces 30,000 Model 3’s or 80,000 or 100,000 this year, the ball is rolling and this momentum will not stop. I think you are safe with your prediction of 10-30 years for EV adoption to skyrocket and I believe it is closer to the lower number. Especially when we hit cost parity with EV versus ICE cars.

Nice post.
A nitpicky comment: I don’t think an L2, or even a pair of them, costs $10k all included. More like a couple grand.
But yes, charging stations have yet to become a winning business avenue.

I actually think to-go fleets can help in that regards even more than increase in private sales, because they use these stations far more often.

Closer to the main topic: I wonder though what will happen when the Fed rebate sunsets soon after M3 sales ramp. Will Tesla bite the loss? If not, sales will surely suffer.

Will govt. laziness in adapting the sunset rule so as not to reward the worst players on EV (think Honda/FCA), slant the playing field? Given the current level of incompetence and oil-love in the Admin, I suspect they’ll opt for the path that hurts EVs the most.

The market penetration of EV’s in the US will increase every year.

2020: 4%?
2025: 16%?
2030: 40%?
2035: 75%?
2040: 95%?

Something like this trajectory?

One of the main points Tony Seba makes in his famous talk (https://tonyseba.com/portfolio-item/clean-disruption-of-energy-transportation/) is that disruptive technologies never have a smooth adoption curve. Instead, they follow an S shape: slow at first, then at an inflection point they capture most of the market in a short time. Early cars, computers, DVDs, smartphones, all did this. If electric cars take over, it should be the same.

One thing to bear in mind: Seba sees electrification going hand-in-hand with autonomy to eliminate most private car ownership. He’s NOT talking about private cars being electrified by themselves.

“One of the main points Tony Seba makes…” The Tesla is not a disruptive technology. It’s a car. There is nothing functionally different about it except its energy source. Its technological use is identical to current car technology. And it costs more to do that function in an EV than an ICE vehicle and will for the foreseeable future. The sole reason for EV’s is to reduce emissions. That’s why Tesla was founded, that’s why we subsidize it with tax credits, regulations and infrastructure build out. As we see with Hong Kong and Denmark, cut those subsidies and the EV sales fall off as there is nothing functionally different in an electric or ICE car. Some people will buy an EV if it looks good, has decent range as a means to do their part to lower emissions. While there is a substantial market there it is a very small market over all. The minuscule sales we see in EV’s is selling into the that market. The growth looks great in percentage terms but that’s because the numbers are so small. Most people are not committed to doing something that will cost them more money. Gets back to the need… Read more »

Seba agrees with you. The disruptive tech is full autonomy + electric, and that’s not on offer yet. (As I mentioned in my comment.)

The electric drive is not disruptive in any way, it is more expensive and has range and recharging issues. The reason we are looking at EV’s is emissions reductions and for that we will put up with the cost and inconvenience.

In order to get people to use EV’s we must offer them substantial incentives which is the exact opposite of a “disruptive” technology.

You don’t know what the proposition is that you are arguing against. Go see the video. Here’s the argument in a nutshell:

Electric drive is radically simpler than ICE mechanically, and connecting to charge point is much simpler and more easily automated than liquid refueling. As battery prices drop, cost of EVs (both initial purchase and cost per mile) will drop below that of ICE cars. Add electric drive to full autonomy, and price of transport via dispatchable electric vehicles (Taas Transport as a Service) will drop well below cost of maintaining a personal ICE car. As that happens, much of the personal auto fleet will be abandoned. That is the disruption.

Add to that the falling price of renewable electricity, and with time owning a personal ICE vehicle will be as out of date as renting a landline.

All this is in the video. Is Seba right? No idea. But just insisting that ED isn’t disruptive doesn’t engage the discussion.

FISHEV needs to get out of his goldfish bowl.

Self Driving EVs and RE are INCREDIBLY DISRUPTIVE technologies.

It will only take a couple of decades at most for many to most people to make their own energy to fuel their living space and their EVs should they choose to own one.

Of course, with EVs and their self driving will probably mean that many if not most people will choose not to own and rather use vehicles as a service.

So both the utility industry and the laggard Auto OEMs will be heavily disrupted by these occurances and thankfully the fossil fool industry will be dead.

Hopefully we will still be alive in spite of the serious global warming that will have unfortunately happened because of the delaying by big moneyed fossil fool and interests that have captured so many politicians.

I have to disagree that the electric drive is not disruptive. It is many times more efficient and less prone to breaking down. Once prices on batteries come down eliminating the range problems, it’s simply a better technology and it will displace gas engines on that merit. In the same way, solar and wind are currently displacing fossil fuels because the tech has reached the point where they are simply cheaper.

> there isn’t a lot of competition in the price/performance area of the Model-3 beside the Bolt EV. And that vehicle doesn’t seem to be selling as hot as many believed (although it seems to be pretty close to what GM forecast) GM clearly doesn’t want to sell any more than they are at the moment. As you know very well there are a lot of people waiting to buy one in a lot of markets outside the US. We know you’re more than a bit challenged to even remember that there is a world outside of the US, and reluctant to consider what that means, but if we don’t really know the demand for the Ioniq, then nor do we for the Bolt. Your well known affection for GM appears to render you incapable of seeing how GM is the party that’s misbehaving here – the Ioniq is in demand at home and nobody’s pretending the car is demand constrained. GM on the other hand simply reports the not so impressive sales figures while inventory keeps climbing, and nobody writing op-eds bother to call them and ask why then dealers in Canada, or South Korea, aren’t getting any product.… Read more »

I’m being cautiously optimistic on the lack of a driver display and how easy it will be to adapt. None of the current HUD add-ons are remotely integrated or ecstatically pleasing to me.

I haven’t told my wife yet about the giant display. I’m interested to see her opinion when I get my Model 3 next year.

David Murray – Good post. Strongly agree with most of it.

WRT the Model 3 instruments, I’ve thought it looked ugly and amateurish from the start. Maybe I’d change my mind if I drove it.

Biggest things Model 3 has going for it are the Supercharger network plus long range. Like the Volt, it’s a credible long-distance car. Not even the Bolt can claim that.

Other manufacturers have been unwilling to commit fully to EV market. Tesla is poised to eat their lunch. Hope it happens.

This article is about US sales it seems since it mentions US incentives.

Tesla is going big and long in China. Sales in China will make sales in US tiny in comparison. EU and Asia will also be bigger than the US for EV sales.

Everyone other than the US seems to be going big into alternative energy (new energy) vehicles.

Good article.

One thing missing: The barn door will only open for EVs if the Model 3 is profitable. Tesla’s future depends on it, and they’re relying heavily on the Gigafactory to enable it to be profitable.

ICE mfrs can afford to lose money on EVs (GM, Ford, Nissan, BMW), but they will continue producing only as many as the law requires, if they can’t do it profitably.

For their part, buyers won’t rush through the barn door if EVs are too expensive. EV sales are directly related to the percentage of subsidy, and the shock of withdrawn subsidies will chill the EV market. I am not a fan of subsidies, but I wouldn’t have considered my former 12 Leaf without them.

So if Tesla can produce the Model 3 profitably in 2019, and it can sell well without subsidies, then the barn doors may open.

So much pressure on the M3. I’ve never seen a car treated as a Messiah figure before. I hope that works out better than it did for Jesus.

The key question is: is an EV revolutionary or evolutionary? Is it a faster horse, or an iPhone?

I think the former, based on my experience. An EV is nicer, but it doesn’t get you there any faster or more comfortably, and curtails your freedom due to restricted range, slow charging, and congested public charging points.

Therefore, we won’t see revolutionary sales until self driving cars are a reality, and people will buy them for self driving, not because they are EVs.

I guess that makes you Pontius Pilate in your analogy?

A conventional hybrid is evolutionary, letting carmakers build vehicles that could get 50 mpg instead of 30. Better, but still burning gas.

You’re right about EVs in that they don’t fly or transport passengers through space, but the revolutionary aspect is the fuel. They operate without gas and have the potential to run on no fossil fuels at all when charged from renewable sources. How many EV owners have solar? Seriously, I’d like to know the answer to that question, but I believe it’s close to 1/3, in California at least.

Ship all unsold Bolt EVs to Europe. Here we are waiting Opel Ampera production which is too slow for demand. You cannot produce and ship needed amount of Bold compared to demand here. You may have there is US Bolts in a stock, we are in que for several months or years…

The lack of instrument cluster is a minor issue for me compared to the fact that the lenght of the car (if confirmed) means that it won’t fit in my garage, that is the only place where I can hope to find a soket to recharge it.
It could still be a car to big for people living in cities.