03/31/2016 – As Elon Musk stepped out onto the stage, making his best Steve Jobs impression, to discuss Tesla’s newest car, it almost seemed as if it didn’t matter what the Model 3 ended up being. The fans that were there were ready to cheer, love and faithfully follow Musk and Tesla wherever they went. I’m not sure there’s been this much buzz about a car in my lifetime. Bu regardless of all of that, the Tesla Model 3 stands to threaten the automotive segment that’s been dominated by the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C Class for decades.

As the fourth part in Tesla’s “Master Plan”, the Model 3 will be a high-volume, low cost option for customers who want affordable and approachable electric motoring. We heard several rumors as to what the Tesla Model 3 might be like, with everything from its design, to its range, to its power figures being speculated beyond comprehension. However, the Model 3 shocks with quite realistic, yet very impressive, figures and statistics. It doesn’t seem as if there’s any marketing bologna going on.

In terms of looks, the Model 3 looks like if Tesla combined the Model S with the Model X. It looks like a sedan from the B-pillar forward, but like a hatchback from the B-pillar backward. It also lacks any sort of front grill, like the Model X, which still seems odd.

The Tesla Model 3 will be built in Tesla’s new Gigafactory, which is said to have the largest footprint of any building of any kind, according to Musk. Apparently, Telsa plans on manufacturing 500,000 cars per year and it will be the largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries in the world. That’s either extremely impressive or extremely over exaggerated.

When the Tesla Model 3 debuts next year, as claimed by a jovial Musk who pokes fun at his own Model X’s failures, it will pack a range that will embarrass electric cars costing twice as much and power figures that rival the best sports sedans in its class. The Model 3 will have a max range of at least 215 miles, depending on the battery that’s spec’d, and will be able to get from 0-60 mph in under six seconds, as claimed by Musk. That performance figure rivals cars like the BMW 328i, Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS 2.0t. It will also seat five comfortably, thanks to clever packaging in the front, so it will certainly be a practical car.

The Model 3 will also be the most well-equipped car in its class, even at its base level, and will come with a lot of tech as standard equipment. No word was given on what kind of battery, power or equipment would be in the Model 3, only that it would be better than its competitors. We’ll take Musk’s word for it. Pricing for the Model 3 starts at $35,000, but could get as low as $25,000 with certain government incentives, and will likely go on sale next year. Reservations have already started, with an asking price of $1,000 to reserve. Tesla apparently reached over 150,000 reservations by the time of this presentation.

There’s no doubt that the Tesla Model 3 will be an incredibly important car, one that could change the shape of the EV industry forever. Its 215 mile range is far superior to anything in its price range, especially when considering its claimed performance figures, and it’s like to be the most luxurious car in its class with the most technology. At that price point and with that level of technology, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz should be very nervous right now.