Tesla’s latest, and cheaper, Model 3 electrifies city’s car fans

Long lines form outside automaker’s Beijing and Hong Kong showrooms on Thursday as buyers wait to place orders for its cheaper new electric vehicle

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 April, 2016, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 April, 2016, 9:48pm

Hong Kong’s growing number of Tesla fans were full of praise for the electric car company’s new Model 3 vehicle, as they placed pre-orders for the lower-priced mass market model.

Mark Webb-Johnson, who ­already owns a Tesla Roadster sportscar and a Model S, was fifth in line to place a pre-order at ­Tesla’s Tsuen Wan store.

“I think that the Model 3 is a good car for Hong Kong. It’s a better size for the streets and car parks,” Webb-Johnson said.

“It also sits five people, which is good for Hong Kong families, which tend to be larger in size.”

Locky Law, a representative for Tesla owners at Charged Hong Kong, an organisation that promotes electric vehicles in the city, placed an online reservation yesterday morning for the Model 3.

“[The Model 3 is an] awesome-looking car with a Model X nose and a Model S body,” Law said. “I like its aerodynamic look.”

Will Tesla finally conquer mainland China with its ‘affordable’ Model 3 electric car?

Edwin Lee, a Model S owner who also stood in line to pre-order the Model 3, was pleased to see that not many features were sacrificed to make it affordable.

“It has a great range, a glass roof and a 15-inch touchscreen. Although smaller than the 17-inch touchscreen on the Model S, it’s still so much larger than anything else on the market, especially at this price point,” Lee said.

“Now, we just need the Hong Kong government to extend the first registration tax exemption on electric vehicles and we can more or less eliminate the demand for internal combustion engine cars in Hong Kong.”

Currently, electric car owners in Hong Kong are able to have their electric car’s first registration tax waived until March 2017.

Deliveries of the new model, for which over 115,000 pre-orders have been placed, will not start until 2017. It will cost US$35,000.

Speaking at the unveiling of the car in Los Angeles yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he expected the new model to boost adoption of electric vehicles around the globe.

“It’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport,” said Musk, adding that revenue from the company’s higher-end Model S sedan and its Model X SUV went towards developing the cheaper new model.

Musk said the car could get to 100 km/h in under six seconds and hinted that there would be other versions later that would go “much faster”.

The Model 3 would have a range of 346 kilometres and a glass roof that gave passengers “a feeling of openness”, he said.

With Tesla’s Model S now Hong Kong’s top-selling sedan, chief Elon Musk predicts city to become world leader in electric vehicles

The South African-born entrepreneur, who also founded space exploration company SpaceX, said Tesla planned to “more than double” the number of its stores in Asia, North America and Europe to allow buyers to easily purchase a Model 3.

Hong Kong currently has three Tesla stores, located in Sai Ying Pun and Repulse Bay as well as the Tsuen Wan site. The company also has 16 stores on the ­mainland.

A Tesla spokesperson declined to elaborate on whether or how many of the new stores would in be in Hong Kong or the mainland.

The spokesperson also declined to say how many of the total pre-orders were placed in Hong Kong and the mainland.

Tesla plans to allay concerns over charger capacity globally by doubling the number of superchargers around the world by the end of 2017, and quadruple the number of destination chargers.