Tesla Model 3: Finding perspective

The reveal of the Tesla Model 3 this week was one of the biggest automotive events of the year. The car attracted 180,000 pre-orders in just 24 hours, gave the company’s stock a jolt, and set Tesla on a more ambitious growth path for the rest of the decade.

Tesla Model 3

It’s a staggering feat considering the Model 3 is one car, from one company that’s just 13 years old. It begs the question: Is all of this attention warranted?

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson urged investors to “take a deep breath,” and be mindful that the Model 3 won’t likely arrive in “significant volume” until possibly 2019. Though Tesla promises the car will launch in 2017, Johnson points to the slow rollouts of the Model S sedan and Model X crossover as cautionary notes.

The potential extended wait didn’t temper the enthusiasm of Tesla’s faithful, and many put down deposits before they had even seen the car. Johnson compared the hype to a “Black Friday atmosphere,” saying the social media buzz went from “insane mode to ludicrous mode,” in a riff on Tesla’s driving features. Still, the Barclays analyst was admittedly “curmudgeonly” when it came to Tesla’s stock price.

In comparison, Morgan Stanley called Tesla’s shares undervalued, and expects the Model 3 to be the start of cataclysmic changes in the industry. “We have said for some time that, despite its many worthy accomplishments, Tesla had not yet truly disrupted the auto industry,” according to a report led by Adam Jonas. “We are now getting a feeling that this may be starting to change.”

The Model 3 offers a range of 215 miles on a single charge, can sprint to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, and has room for five. It will also be capable of charging on Tesla’s supercharging network and features the company’s autonomous technology. With a starting price of $35,000 before incentives, it’s arguably the most futuristic car that’s attainable for a wide swatch of American buyers, though the Chevy Bolt EV is comparable (200-plus-mile range, $37,500 MSRP before incentives) in many ways.

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