Tesla’s heavily hyped March 31 Model 3 unveiling event is almost here. Amidst details about the selling price, a layout of how to actually get a reservation, and speculation about if the Model 3 will finally be the car to bring Tesla to profitability (its doing just fine, thanks), you might be wondering if it’s actually worth staying up and watching Elon Musk force his way through the presentation.
After all, it does have an 8:30 p.m. Pacific start (11:30 Eastern time), and Musk has a recent history of showing up late — just don’t write a Medium post calling him out on that or Musk himself might personally strike your name off the reservation list. If you do stay up for the live stream event, however, here’s what you can expect based on how the Model X reveal in 2013 and the Model X launch in 2015 events went down.
A stylish Musk introduction fit for a king
Jerry Brown, the governor of California, took the stage to warm up the crowd before Musk made his appearance in 2013.
Having the governor of California as your opening act is one thing, but the way that George Blankenship, Tesla’s vice president of sales, hyped Musk’s entrance, you would think that a rockstar was about to start his show.
“Everything we do, we do for you,” Blankenship said in a low voice. Then, with his voice rising to a full bellow, “Ladies and gentlemen… Mr. Elon Musk!” Cue the heavy bass and electronic music.
You can expect a similar amount of fanfare for the Model 3 reveal.
Focus on a single problem the new model solves
The Model X set out to solve how to balance SUV functionality and safety with style. Musk did so by comparing Tesla’s SUV with a decidedly unfashionable Honda Odyssey (which Musk chuckled at while assuring the audience he does not have one), and a stylish, but less roomy, Audi Q7 (which Musk says he does have). The Model X, on the other hand, has stylish Falcon Wing doors and, as Musk bragged at the Model X launch event, five stars in every safety category.
This year, Tesla faces a different problem: breaching the middle-class market. The Model 3 has some competition in this area. First off, there’s the Chevrolet Bolt that will sell for around $30,000 near the end of 2016. Also, if the Model 3 isn’t able to live up to the $35,000 base, it will be competing with the established mid-range luxury models offered by companies like Audi and BMW.
Expect Musk to talk you into the night with assurances that the Model 3 is the future of the middle class electric vehicle, just like the Model X was the future of the sexy SUV.
More assurances that this is the car to make Tesla profitable
Roll out of the Model X took much longer than expected — and the launch presentation let down people who respect timeliness as well when it started late. The event came after numerous production delays, but Tesla leadership assured people that the Model X was the vehicle to finally make the company profitable.
It didn’t. Tesla lost around $18,000 per car that it sold in the fourth quarter of 2015, and the company is in desperate need of some buzz to keep investors happy.
The Model 3 is targeted toward the mass market rather than only the luxury market, and quantity is key to finally making the company profitable. So look for Musk and co. to keep the hype from dying before they are even able to make a profit.