Electric car maker Tesla Motors (s TSLA) told the website Auto Express — and confirmed via Twitter — that its third-generation car will be called “Model 3.” I am disappoint. But I was also not so enamored when they renamed the second-gen car the Model S — anyone remember when they called the third-gen car (now Model 3) Bluestar back in the day (like 2008) and the Model S was called Whitestar? You, dear old-school reader, you remember.
Back when Tesla named Whitestar the “Model S,” Tesla’s then marketing head Darryl Siry told me that they chose a more modest name on purpose. The point was to make Tesla the main brand, and not to dilute the brand with additional marketing terms. No doubt it’s the same for the Model 3. And heck, everyone was calling it “Gen-III” anyways, so why not go with what’s obvious.
There was some discussion, and joking, that the third-gen car would be named the Model E, so that Tesla’s first three cars could spell out S, E, and X. But Musk said — I have no idea if this is true or not — that Ford threatened to sue them over the Model E trademark. But with “Model 3” they can get kindof close to a hacker version of S.E.X, with S3X. ¯\_(?)_/¯.
The Roadster was Tesla’s first official car, and the Model S was its second. The Model X is a cross-over SUV minivan that is based on the basics of the Model S. The Model 3 will be built on an entirely new, and more low cost, platform. That’s why they’re calling it third-gen even though its the fourth car.
The third-gen is meant to be the low cost, more mainstream electric car that will help break into the mainstream. They’re targeting $35,000 for a price tag of the Model 3, versus closer to $70,000– double that — for the Model S.
So all hail the Model 3. Now they just have to make it. For some glimpses of what they’re thinking about for the new platform for Model 3 watch my interview with Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen from last year’s Roadmap design conference.
And if you want a laugh, read these reader suggestions back from 2008 for what Tesla should name the then-Whitestar, now Model S, before we knew what the name would be. They should have gone with “the Booyah.”