Is Elon Musk’s Tesla Model 3 the new Ford Model T?

Get ready to drive into your future...

Tesla Model 3 Feature

We think the Tesla Model 3 could be the hottest new car since the Model T. It’s a bold statement, yes, but what Musk has done by releasing an affordable, electric luxury sedan is exactly what Henry Ford did with his groundbreaking Model T: He’s opened the future of travel to the average middle-class American in a desirable way.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at a few of the upcoming Model 3 features:

  • 0 – 60 MPH in less than 6 seconds at the base model
  • 5 star rating in every category, including safety
  • 215 miles per charge minimum
  • Autopilot hardware comes standard for self-driving functionality

And here’s a short video summary from The Verge of the highlights from the Tesla reveal event:

Is the Tesla Model 3 Ushering in the New Era of Cars?

So just what similarities do we see between this groundbreaking new electric car and the Model T? Here are some facts that link the upcoming Model 3 to Ford’s defining car of the automotive era to date:

A car for the middle class:

Model T

The Model T was the first affordable automobile intended for the average middle-class American. Henry Ford had prototyped and created several cars prior to the Model T, but before his greatest hit, leisure automobiles (by Ford and other manufacturers) were mainly status symbols for the rich upper classes.

Model 3

The Model 3 is Tesla’s first electric vehicle to be priced affordably for the average new car buyer. Tesla has produced several other models – all with high prices and high status. There are also other electric cars on the market, but Tesla has developed a car that can go twice as far on a charge (215 miles to an average 80 miles) while maintaining a high level of driving performance.

The price is right:

Model T

The driving reason behind the Model T’s success was its price. Henry Ford heavily focused on innovating production costs – as he improved the process and increased volume, he could lower the price.

Model 3

As Jalopnik notes in their recent article, Tesla’s unique direct sales model means that they can keep the Model 3 affordable at $35,000 by bypassing the “ADM – Adjusted Dealer Markup” that dealerships would normally add onto a car’s sticker price if there is high demand. Musk is also focused on production costs, moving nearly all of the battery production in-house with a massive U.S.-based Gigafactory. And don’t forget about the thousands of dollars in tax credits & government incentives!

An instant success:

Model T

In a matter of days after the October 1, 1908 release of the Model T, an unprecedented 15,000 orders were placed. With 16.5 million sold across its lifetime, the automobile still remains on the top 10 list of most sold cars of all time

Model 3

With a staggering 265,000 pre-orders in 3 days (Editor’s note: Now 300,000+ orders and counting), Tesla has made more sales in 72 hours than the total combined annual sales of the top four compact sedans that it would compete with on the open market.

Forward-thinking design:

Model T

The Model T employed advanced technology for the time. In particular, it used extremely durable vanadium steel alloy that meant the Model T could last for decades. Henry Ford was a lifelong champion for the advancement of materials, mechanical and industrial engineering sciences.

Model 3

The Model 3 also employs some of the most advanced technology in the automotive industry with their long-lasting lithium-ion batteries. Elon Musk is often cited as a technological visionary, pushing for advancements across all segments of society – including the colonization of Mars!

Driving Into the Future

At the Tesla Model 3 unveil, Musk noted: “It’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport. This is really important for the future of the world.” Whether or not their new electric vehicle will be the one to change the automotive industry forever remains to be seen. As Green Car Reports notes: Tesla still has a ways to go. They must complete the Model 3 design, undergo testing and certification from regulators across the globe, and then ramp up production levels to meet this incredible demand – all in the next 18 months.

However, Elon Musk does seem to be adhering to a vision that Henry Ford himself had in mind: “To do more for the world that the world does for you – that is success.”

The Fifteen Millionth Model T
Henry Ford and his son driving off in the 15 millionth Model T car.

Related Read: Driverless Cars: A Quick Guide to Everything You Need to Know