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Elon Musk shows off Tesla's very first production Model 3

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, July 10, 2017, 12:40 PM - After over a year of waiting, the very first Tesla Model 3 production car rolled off the assembly line on Friday, and production is expected to reach 20,000 per month by December.

This story has been updated.

Last week, Elon Musk announced on Twitter that the Tesla Model 3 was cleared for production two weeks ahead of schedule, and that the very first one, serial number 1, would be completed as of Friday.

Over the weekend, he provided us with our first looks at the new car, as he proudly showed off the achievement.

According to Musk, the first 30 customers will take possession of their new Model 3's during a handover party on July 28. The next 100 cars should be delivered in August, followed by 1,500 more in September, and Tesla should reach a production rate of 20,000 cars per month by December.

Based on the specs of the Tesla Model 3, it will go from zero to 100 kph in under 6 seconds (if you really need to do that), it will drive up to 345 kilometres on a full battery charge, it seats 5 and was designed for a five-star safety rating. The company also says that the Model 3 will include the autopilot hardware and supercharging capability.

The price, as it stands now, starts at $35,000 US, although local pricing is set to be announced soon.

With how the Canadian dollar currently stands up to the US dollar, that still adds up to quite a bit for a sedan. $45,000+ with the current exchange rate of 1 USD = 1.29349 CAD. However, for Canadians looking to purchase one, checking into provincial electric vehicle incentive programs is well worth the effort.

In Ontario, for example, the Tesla Model 3 - which reportedly has a 60 kWh battery - would eligible for a $14,000 rebate ($13,000 for its battery size, and an extra $1,000 since it seats 5 or more). This would bring the price down closer to $30,000 CAD.

Adding more electric vehicles in Canada will go a long way towards closing the gap between production and demand for clean energy. A recent report from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers showed that Ontario is producing a lot more clean energy than it is using, which is resulting in wasted potential. Increasing consumption will reduce the amount of "down time" for clean energy production, but it should go into beneficial uses, like replacing greenhouse gas emitting vehicles with cleaner electric cars.

Cost Effective?

There are concerns that this will simply hike up energy bills, and it certainly will increase the electricity bill of anyone who plugs in their Model 3 (or other electric vehicle) at home. So, what kind of cost increase would this be?

With a 60 kWh battery standard in the Tesla Model 3, that's 60 kiloWatt-hours of electricity drawn from the local power grid (whether plugged in overnight at the owner's residence or at a supercharging station).

At current Ontario hydro rates, 60 kWh equates to between $3.90 (off-peak) to $7.92 (on-peak) for a full battery charge, which will take you up to 345 kilometres. That's just over 1 cent per km if you charge in off-peak times, up to just over 2 cents per km if you charge on-peak. By comparison, a late model gasoline-fueled sedan of comparable size costs about 6 cents per km to run.

Of course, temperature affects electric battery life, and if it's too cold, if affects the range of the car. Here in Canada, it can get very cold, so what affect does this have?

Tesla's website only provides detailed specs on the range per charge for its Model S, currently, however a little extrapolation from the 75 kWh battery gives some interesting figures.

The 345 km to a full 60 kWh battery charge apparently assumes a temperature of 20oC outside, without heat or air conditioning, and driving at 100 km/h. Turn on the air conditioning at that speed and temperature, and the range drops to around 321 km per charge. 

Estimated range per charge for the Tesla Model 3, at different temperatures and power consumption. Estimations made based performance of 70 kWh battery at these conditions. Credit: Scott Sutherland

If the temperature goes up to 30oC, there is a small increase in range, to 328 km (assuming the air conditioning is on). If the temperature drops to 0oC, however, range drops to 293 km, at -10oC the range is 278 km, at -20oC it's 258 km, and at -30oC it's 243 km (assuming the heat is on at all of those temperatures).

So, yes, battery effectiveness will suffer in our cold Canadian winters. However, even charging the Model 3's battery at on-peak times (thus at the most expensive rate), and driving at highway speeds at -30oC, it costs just over 3 cents per km to run the car.

That's still around half the cost of running the comparable gasoline-fueled car, using today's prices (roughly $1 per litre). In the future, as fossil fuel sources begin to run out, gas prices will climb, making an electric car like this even more cost-effective.

Also, if the driver lowers their speed for driving around city streets, the range increases significantly. Driving at just 70 km/h, in 20oC temperatures, can increase the base range to nearly 500 km, which comes out to around 437 km if you're running the air conditioning.

RELATED: Why Canadians shouldn't hold back from switching to electric vehicles

Sources: Tesla | Elon Musk

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