TESLA MODEL 3 $35,000

An ‘automotive tipping point’ might be here

But from the moment you sit inside the Model 3, you do sense that you have entered uncharted territory. What made the experience unique, is the equally immediate sense that this uncharted territory is actually familiar.

There’s the intuitive nature of the Model 3’s minimalist design. It also has to do with the way the car seamlessly incorporates technology that is already second nature in many people’s everyday lives. Instead of peering into a cluttered dashboard, for example, you see critical information about the vehicle arriving via a clean, 15-inch display that will look instantly recognizable to any smartphone user.

Devoid of buttons and the typical instrument cluster in the driver’s line of sight, your eyes are drawn instead to the road ahead.

The windshield wipers, headlights, mapping, temperature, music and steering wheel can be adjusted with a few taps by on the horizontal display. The speedometer is also prominently displayed here, in the upper left corner, a feature that our driver said initially caught him off guard, but now seems safer and more intuitive.

“I felt like I was driving in an Eames chair,” the Verge’s Tamara Warren wrote. “It took a moment to orient myself — no gauges, no speedometer, no airplane cockpit cues. Instead, one continuous smooth line between myself and the road ahead, offset by natural, unfinished wood.”

The Model 3 — touted as the first “mass-market” electric car — will start at $35,000, go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds and have a top speed of 130 miles per hour.

“This car feels like an automotive tipping point, a sign that electric vehicles — and hopefully, the infrastructure that supports them — have finally come into their own,” Wired’s Jack Stewart observed.

To be fair, Tesla, for all its revolutionary rhetoric, is hardly the first vehicle to enter this space.

Prospective buyers are already comparing the Model 3 to the Chevy Bolt, Motor Trend’s 2017 Car of the Year and the 2017 North American Car of the Year.

One major difference between the vehicles, however, is price. With incentives, the Bolt is available for less than $30,000. With incentives, the base Model 3 is comparably priced, but with every premium option it would cost about $60,000, according to the latest details released by the company.

The competition, it seems, has begun.