The Most Important Vehicle of the Century
08.09.2017 - by Joel Levin
The Most Important Vehicle of the Century

“The Most Important Vehicle of the Century”
Those aren’t my words. That is what Motor Trend glowingly called the Tesla Model 3 when they were fortunate enough to take a test drive in one of the first few vehicles on the road. I haven ’t been in one yet, but I am eager to get behind the wheel.

The Ford Model T is considered the most important vehicle of the last century. Before the Model T, the automobile was an expensive toy for the wealthy. Each one was hand made in small quantities. The Model T was mass produced on an assembly line and priced for common man. In 1926, it sold for $260, about $3600 in today’s money. The 15 million that were produced made cars available to the middle class for the first time and completely reshaped the American landscape.

Certainly the Tesla Model 3 is already one of the most anticipated vehicles in history. When Tesla first began taking orders for it in March 2016, over 300,000 people plunked down $1,000 in the first week to get a spot in line. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Elon Musk recently told reporters the line is now up to 455,000.

By the end of this year, Tesla plans to ramp up production of the Model 3 to 20,000 per month, which is a bit more than all the plug-in vehicles sold monthly in the U.S., combined. Clearly, that will not be simple. In his remarks at the launch of the Model 3, Elon Musk observed that they were heading into a “manufacturing hell” over the coming months. But if they can deliver on that goal and the car dazzles the rest of us the way that it has the good folks at Motor Trend, then it might just be the most important vehicle of the century.

The most significant thing about the Model T was not just the car itself, but the way it forced Ford’s competitors to respond and changed the whole industry. When the last Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1927, all car manufacturing had moved to assembly lines and prices had dropped precipitously.

The Model 3 could just be the car that demonstrates that electric drive really is better, consumers truly want it, and forces the rest of the industry to respond or be left behind.

8 comments on “The Most Important Vehicle of the Century”
  1. Randy Madden says:

    When the Model 3 reservation list was announced I weighed all the pros and cons. The biggest factor was that my Volt lease is up in Aug of 2018, and it’s unlikely I’ll get a Model 3 by then (Southern Cal). So I made the bold decision to go Bolt instead of Model 3.

    But last week my resolve collapsed when I heard that the Bolt doesn’t even offer a nav system. I was already hearing worrying reports about how low-tech the Bolt is (and I’m a high tech guy). So I caved and put my money down on the Model 3. I’m happy with the decision, even though it may mean renting a car for a few months. I really believe this will be a revolutionary car, and as an electric car guy (we have 3, and I bought my first Chinese Zap in 2009 – no we don’t have it anymore) I don’t want to miss out on the revolution.

    1. Tim says:

      The Bolt doesn’t offer a GUI nav because it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which use your phone’s nav app. There is a turn-by-turn voice nav option with OnStar. I think this decision is better for most as phone nav systems tend to have a better UI than in-car systems (though the Bolt’s infotainment UI is done very well).

      I agree with some others. The Model 3 is undoubtedly an important vehicle, but I don’t think it deserves the title of being the first. The Bolt made it to Pennsylvania a week before the Model 3 even started production, and has been available in California for about a year.

  2. George Moellenhoff says:

    Thanks Elon Musk for sticking your neck out in developing the Tesla.

  3. Serge Pitter says:

    It’s maybe the car of the century, but it’s not the design of the century !!! Why mimic mid-sized German sedans ? EV enables more design routes than petrol-engine cars.

  4. Steve says:

    While I do truly LOVE the impact of the TESLA brand… and I do Love My Model X…. in all it’s glory, the title “First EV car for the masses” might really belong to the Chevy Bolt. It was earlier and it is cheaper.

    1. Robert Wells says:

      FYI Bolts are now available in all 50 states since Aug. 1st. In fact production of the Bolts has resumed at Orion plant. GM gave dealers a $ 4,500.00 markup on the Bolt when coming up with the MSRP of $37,500.00 Many dealers are knocking 1 to 2,000.00 off that MSRP. As far as Tesla is concerned, they don’t need to worry at all. Once people get to test drive one of their vehicles, with auto pilot, they will be sold on them. We in the Northeast won’t see a model 3 ’till Winter 2019. I soooo want a Model 3.but i will be buying a Chevy Bolt for now.

  5. Ellis Godard says:

    No, Rusty. The second. 😉
    Lovin’ my bolt…

  6. Rusty West says:

    Henry Ford’s Model T was “the first car for the masses” in the last century.
    Elon Musk’s Model 3 will be “the first EV car for the masses” in the 21st century!

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