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News that eager Tesla fans formed queues for blocks outside Tesla shops for the forthcoming Model 3 confirms the brand and its sleek products have reached Apple-levels of slavish devotion.
Following several rounds of high-fives with starry-eyed supporters, Elon Musk unveiled the latest addition to the company’s growing portfolio of models at Tesla’s California headquarters.
The shorter, more compact Model 3 was greeted by roars of approval from an 800-strong crowd of brand acolytes, exhibiting even more enthusiasm than a Donald Trump rally.
News that Musk has decreed Kiwis be allowed to buy the vehicle from an as-yet-unspecified distributor has caused levels of excitement generally associated with a royal visit, or perhaps a parade involving a sports trophy.
But here’s the thing many eager deposit putter-downers might not have considered. With every extra 1000 people who sign up for a Model 3, the projected time for those orders to roll down the production line grows.
Within hours of the Model 3’s official unveiling, Musk warned that wait times for the car were “growing rapidly”. It appears Tesla has completely underestimated the excitement their most affordable EV (US$35,000-ish, or around NZ$51,000) has generated in early adopters.
The car received an incredible 232,000 registrations of interest in the 24 hours following its unveiling. Of those, it is believed 115,000 people have handed over an actual deposit.
Fortune magazine got together with number-crunchers Cairn Energy Research to break down these numbers in terms of customer fulfillment expectations. Suffice to say, many would-be Tesla owners will be waiting a long time for their trendy transport.
Tesla expects to begin shipping the new model at the end of next year, and production is predicted to have totalled around 77,000 by the end of 2018.
That’s pretty optimistic. The Model X SUV — a much more expensive and thus less rabidly demanded model — has already been hit by assembly line issues that saw Tesla reduce production estimates. Is the company tooled up for a mainstream model like the one unveiled last week?
The reality for many Model 3 customers (especially in newer markets where Tesla is hoping to set up shop, like New Zealand) is that their shiny new EV won’t be sitting next to their wall-charger until late 2018, 2019, or quite possibly until next decade.
And then there are also (unsubstantiated) murmurings that current Model S and Model X owners will be able to jump the queue in order to receive their Model 3 first.
Of course, these are all good problems for Musk and his booming company.
And to take the Apple comparison one step further, all he needs to do is ensure a cyclical facelift programme of indiscernible changes that are marketed as incredible technological leaps forward, and the queues will form.
BMW’s roadster with — huh? — Toyota
Picture / Automedia
The news here isn’t so much that BMW is finally getting around to bothering with a next-generation Z4 roadster, but that it is partnering with Toyota engineering boffins to do so.
Actually, the BMW-Toyota alliance isn’t exactly new. The companies agreed a couple of years ago to co-develop eco-friendly technology with an emphasis on fuel cell vehicles. This was followed by the exciting-sounding idea that they partner on a platform for a sports car.
For BMW this appears to have evolved — after a long hiatus — into an updated Z4 roadster, which insiders suggest will likely be called the Z5. For Toyota? Well, The Good Oil believes the Japanese brand holds the trump card.
The strongest rumour suggests the platform will be used for a revived Toyota Supra. Now, which one would you rather see happen? We thought so too.
Of course it might pay to temper those palpitations with a small dose of cynicism, because rumours of a re-born Supra have been lurking for a couple of years. Toyota have failed to confirm or deny such a plan, but with Honda’s updated NSX going on sale this year after a lengthy gestation, surely the time is right for a nostalgic nod to Toyota’s performance past?
As for BMW’s Z4 successor, a 2018 launch date is the latest prediction there, with few new details discernible from the latest round of spy shots.
Snow better car
Picture / Supplied
Straight out of the Why Not? file comes a new video from Red Bull Japan featuring Red Bull Racing and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia driver Takeshi Kimura, snow chains, a roof-mounted one-man tent —and a Ferrari F40. We’re not entirely sure what the point of the four-minute clip is. But it’s dashed good fun to watch.
Kimura slithers up an otherwise ordinary (and well-populated) ski run thanks to the 352kW generated by his 2.9-litre twin turbo V8 Fezza.
The F40 looks fantastic; tricked out in rally-spec fashion with bonnet-mounted spots, studded tyres and er, a luggage rack.
Most of the video is filled with wall-to-wall snow spray as Kimura saws away at the wheel, weaving his be-spoilered beast between closely bunched trees.
Seek out the clip and celebrate the onset of winter with some weird high-performance snow sport.
1311 UNITS of Ferrari F40 manufactured during nine years of production
1987 YEAR The Ferrari F40 debuted
959 PORSCHE Many car magazines of the day favoured the Porsche 959 over the F40
50 SLIDING WINDOWS The first 50 had sliding windows; after that they had wind-ups.