The Tesla Model 3 does more than just bring electric driving to a wider audience. When the $35,000 vehicle entered production in July 2017, its ultra-minimalist design turned heads by echoing the more expensive Model S while ditching basic design elements like an instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Franz von Holzhausen, the head designer for these two cars and the Model X, revealed on Thursday how his inspiration came from the freedom of starting with “no history, no legacy.”
The Tesla Model 3, Von Holzhausen said in comments reported by the Los Angeles Times, is “based on the idea of minimalism, that less is more…extra buttons, extra switches are just excess.” The car’s support for over-the-air software updates, which will improve the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode to support full autonomous driving by the end of this year, “allows the car to get better with time.” This gradual progression means that rather than a sudden release of full self-driving functionality, “it allows it to evolve into the autonomy movement, as regulations allow better and safer technology.”
The Model 3 takes inspiration from its predecessor, the Model S. Von Holzhausen’s team started work on the car in 2008: He knew that to beat the likes of Audi and BMW, the car had to be “beautiful and alluring, like a moth attracted to a flame.” When it launched four years later, it propelled Tesla into the spotlight. It was a fitting follow-up to the company’s original Roadster, which used parts from the Lotus Elise to show how a production all-electric car could turn heads.
The Model 3 is a big moment for the company, as it ramps up production to fulfill the approximately 400,000 pre-orders of $1,000 each and convert them into full-paying customers. In the company’s earnings call this week, Musk revealed that the company has reached a production rate of 2,000 cars per week, and planned upgrades are set to send this figure higher.
The company already has its sights set on expanding its market even further. In the earnings call, CEO Elon Musk described the upcoming entry-priced Model Y sports utility vehicle as a “manufacturing revolution.”
Tesla has yet to unveil its design for the Model Y, but it will likely offer the same groundbreaking legacy outlined by Von Holzhausen.