The Tesla Model 3 has now been officially launched - and we've caught up with two future owners, Russell Harper and Nick Peaty, to find out why they have joined the 500,000-strong group of customers to put down deposits for the car.
“The Model 3 is the first affordable box-ticking electric car; in terms of price, range, quality, brand, up until now the choice has been limited. The Model 3 starts to change the game,” says Harper, when asked what the appeal of the Model 3 is. “I put down a deposit on day one. The Americans got in first because of time zones but made sure I got in as soon as I could from the UK. I even put down two deposits - one for me and one for my wife. We heard it would be very popular, and we weren’t wrong.
“I’ve not owned a Tesla before, but I’ve been aware of the brand since 2014. I’ve read Elon Musk’s autobiography, and like lots of people, I guess I put blind faith in the car. It’s almost like Steve Jobs and the iPhone; the Model 3 will be the car to put Tesla in the spotlight."
Not all prospective Model 3 owners are first-timers, though - Peaty is more than familiar with Musk’s product portfolio: “I had a Model S when they first came out. I then had a Model X which I will continue to run alongside the Model 3 - the 3 will be for my wife. It’s slightly smaller, a lot cheaper, and will replace her Nissan Leaf. Range is restrictive with Leaf, we need something with a few more miles, as the range on the Leaf is not good enough for some of the journeys she wants to do. It’s remarkable that the Model 3 is the same price as the Leaf - that’s a great thing, and it will be good to see what full UK specs offer.”
Peaty was also keen to get his name on the waiting list as soon as possible: “We were yet to see specs and UK price, but we put our deposit down on the day it was made available. Hopefully in a year’s time it’ll be a car that’s a fantastic investment. We have solar panels on the roof of our house, so won’t need to spend as much money charging the car as others.”
What about the more conventional end of the market, then? Why not a BMW 3 Series? Harper blames a gap in the market: “Potential EV owners are ready for something different. We’ve been used to combustion engines for so long, that people think having an electric car and loving cars is incompatible but that’s not the case. People are ready for something more environmentally friendly.”
Peaty is more aware of the problems with diesel: “We believed in Tesla being able to deliver something that offers an alternative to smelly diesels. It’s clear to see that they can deliver; naysayers stand corrected, they made a large SUV with 300 miles of range, they’ve delivered on superchargers, and we know they can deliver a car for £35,000 exceeding what BMW and Audi can do in the same price point. It needs to be a joy to drive and have an unlimited mile warranty.”
Could anything change the opinions of our prospective owners? “Nothing could put me off; I’m expecting Tesla to continue to over-deliver on its promises,” says Peaty.