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2016 Tesla Model 3: Pricing, Range and Release Date

, Automotive Editor - July 16, 2014

Finally, we've received official detail on Tesla's future entry in the smaller, more-affordable luxury segment: the 2016 Tesla Model 3. Tesla Motors continues its success story as the only prosperous upstart automaker in recent memory. The all-electric Model S is currently outselling traditional gas-powered luxury sedan stalwarts such as the BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS, and with a soaring stock price and the new Model X crossover set to hit the market in 2015, Tesla shows no signs of slowing down.

Speaking candidly to the UK's Auto Express, charismatic Tesla founder and CEO, Elon Musk, revealed a few key details on what to expect from Tesla's forthcoming BMW 3-Series fighter. While the new third-generation Tesla car was originally slated to be called the Model E, Ford currently holds that trademark and was not willing to part with it. So, Tesla decided on Model 3 (or Model III, as it may be styled).

Riding on an all-new platform currently being developed in the UK in a covert project spearheaded by UK chief engineer Chris Poritt, formerly of Aston Martin, the Model 3 will reportedly feature a traditional steel body and chassis, a departure from the aluminum-intensive Model S, in an effort to keep costs more affordable. The Model 3's battery pack will be built in the United States at Tesla’s forthcoming Gigafactory, and the car will feature an all-electric driving range of greater than 200 miles.

Around 20% smaller than the Model S, the Model 3 will feature a similar design language with sleek bodywork and a comfortable, high-on-technology interior. The most startling news is its price, with U.S. base pricing set to start at just $35,000 or so. This would place the new electric right in the heart of entry-level German Luxury sedan range, where it could seriously shake up the segment much in the same way as the full-size Model S has left luxury competitors sweating at night.

The Model 3 is expected to be revealed in final production form in 2016. A concept version may be coming as soon as next year's Detroit Auto Show. In other Tesla news, the company will offer upgraded battery packs based on new technology to current owners of its first model, the now out-of-production Tesla Roadster, that will increase driving range all the way up to 400 miles.

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