Tesla; the 'Model T' of the modern age?
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A new generation of electric cars are being hailed as the Ford Model T of the modern age.
The Tesla Model 3's arrival has been described as a watershed moment for electric cars that have long been considered costly, inefficient and impractical.
With a predicted price tag of around NZ$66,400, it is comfortably the most affordable Tesla model to come to market.
Just as the Ford Model T brought the internal combustion engine to the masses in 1908, experts predict the Tesla Model 3 will thrust electric cars into the mainstream.
The first 30 models were handed over to customers at the company's Californian factory last Friday. It came two days after the British Government announced a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040.
The expectation that other countries will follow suit has sent Tesla's shares soaring. The company's market value has overtaken that of Ford -- even though it has never logged a profit -- and bloated the personal fortune of billionaire co-founder Elon Musk.
The first right-hand-drive Model 3s are expected to arrive in New Zealand during 2019.
Musk, aged 46, told the launch event that he expects to churn out 500,000 Model 3s a year. He has vowed to radically change the way people drive by taking on well-established car giants with the company's range of sleek electric vehicles.
He said last week: "This is the day we've been working towards since the beginning of the company. If you're trying to make a difference in the world, you have to make cars that people can afford."
The Tesla Model 3 goes from 0-100km/h in less than six seconds and has a range of around 500km.
It can be charged from a household plug, or from one of Tesla's roadside charging points. It has hardware installed that will allow for driverless journeys.
With only a small number of moving parts, the maker boasts it is virtually maintenance-free. Instead of keys, drivers open the cars using their smartphones. Over time, drivers will have the option to pay for iPhone-style updates to unlock features and correct glitches.
A more expensive version will also be on offer, with greater range even faster acceleration.
The new Tesla models are a far cry from early electric vehicles that were criticised as cumbersome, slow and expensive gimmicks reserved for the super-rich.
Their popularity in the UK has also been stifled by a lack of public charging points. However, the British Government is introducing legislation which will require all petrol stations and motorway services to install electric charge points.And NZ$61 million will be spent on charge points on streets and in workplaces.
Volvo says all its new models will be fully electric or hybrid, and the RAC Foundation said it could be "the spark which turns modern motors electric".
- Daily Mail