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Tesla wants everyone to know: The Model 3 won’t be more advanced than the Model S

Updated 6 years ago
Model 3 Vs Model S
Image: Ena/AP/REX/Shutterstock

With Tesla poised to begin Model 3 production in just about three months, the company in recent weeks has taken steps to temper unreasonably high expectations surrounding its $35,000 EV designed for the masses. Arguably fueled by Elon Musk’s coy remarks about mysterious “reveals” in the future, the speculation surrounding Tesla’s Model 3 in recent months was on the verge of spiraling out of control. In a general sense, many people began to assume that the Model 3 would introduce features and technology far more advanced than what is currently available on the company’s flagship Model S.

Bringing those expectations back down to earth, Elon Musk about two weeks ago indicated the opposite is true, noting via Twitter that the Model 3 is simply a smaller and more affordable version of the Model S with “less range & power & fewer features.” For example, the Model 3 dashboard will not incorporate a HUD and will be as sparse as the dashboard we saw when Tesla first introduced the car last year. Additionally, the Model 3 will not feature the “auto extend handles” available on the Model S and the Model X. As far as dimensions are concerned, the Model 3 will be about 20% smaller than the Model S.

In effect, Tesla wants current reservation holders and prospective buyers to be fully aware of the fact that the Model 3 will be a lesser version of the Model S in every regard, save of course for cost. Seeking to drive this point home in a manner far more official than Twitter, Tesla this week went so far as to publish a blogpost clarifying that while the Model 3 may be newer than the Model S, it will not be the company’s flagship car.

The post reads in part:

While Model 3 will be our newest car, it isn’t “Version 3” or the next generation Tesla. Our higher priced premium models still include the most advanced technology and the best driving experience we have to offer.

Model S is the leader in its class in every category, which is why 94 percent of our owners say they will buy Model S again. It has a 5-star safety rating and will continue to be our flagship Model with more range, more acceleration, more power, more passenger and cargo room, more displays (two) and more customization choices… Model S will also continue to be the longest-range vehicle we offer, capable of a landmark 335 miles on a single charge, meaning you can travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco nonstop.

Model 3 is smaller, simpler, and will come with far fewer options than Model S, but it makes driving feel effortless and offers a good range of at least 215 miles for our starting model.

Indeed, the two areas where the Model 3 will be able to stand toe to toe with the Model S include overall safety features and the option for autonomous driving software.

Tesla’s framing of the Model 3 in this regard is a smart move. The last thing the company wants is for reservation holders to fork over $35,000+ for a car with wildly outlandish expectations regarding what the car will be able to do. As some folks have opined on Twitter, the Model 3 vs Model S comparison is akin to the difference between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 7.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.