Tesla has started production on its eagerly-awaited Model 3, which has a much more affordable price tag, at just $35,000.
Experts call this a make-or-break moment for Tesla, noting the company's disappointing sales, safety concerns and declining stock price. However, critics say a successful rollout of the Tesla Model 3 can seriously disrupt the affordable car-buying industry.
It all depends on how customers, such as Alex Poulos, like it.
Poulos, from Plainville, preordered his Tesla Model 3 the day it became available and has spent the time since waiting for news on his new ride.
“I knew they were going to sell out pretty quickly,” Poulos said. “And they did.”
Poulos drives a 2001 Toyota Highlander. It’s good for outdoor adventures, he said, but not so much for maintenance, at least, when stacked up against an electric vehicle.
"A lot less moving parts, no oil changes, no spark plugs, better for the environment and they’re offering a performance model that’s pretty quick," Poulos said.
Before the Model 3, most Teslas cost customer upwards of $90,000. The newest model brings that price down by more than half, gives customers eligibility on federal and state rebates, has the same super-fast acceleration and aims to become the first mass-market autonomous vehicle.
But the attractive price tag will cost in other ways.
Tesla isn’t allowed to sell in Connecticut, so Poulos needs to pick his up in New York or Massachusetts. Should his new car need maintenance, he’ll have to drive to the state’s only service center in Milford.
He also has to install a charging panel in his house and, at 215 miles per charge, it’s not quite equipped to handle Poulos’ bigger travels.
“I’m probably going to keep the Highlander just for towing the jet ski, but my day-to-day is obviously going to be the Tesla,” said Poulos. “The cost in fuel savings and the technology is just too attractive.”
He doesn’t know when he’ll get his Model 3. The company likely won’t deliver to most New England customers until at least December 2017.