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This article was published on March 16, 2016

Tesla’s Model 3 could be how self-driving cars hit the mainstream

Tesla’s Model 3 could be how self-driving cars hit the mainstream
Ben Woods
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Ben Woods

Europe Editor

Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.

Tesla has confirmed that its upcoming Model 3 launch – widely thought to be the first electric car from Elon Musk’s company aimed at regular, price-sensitive consumers – will go ahead on March 31 in California.

Invites to the event have now been sent out, though little specific detail has been revealed so far – what we know is that it’ll cost around $35,000 and should hit the roads around the end of 2017 or the start of 2018.

Of course, Tesla will need to keep to its schedule if it plans on the first cars rolling off the production line at the expected time. Previous launches, such as the Model X, have seen delays of more than two years and customers who have ponied up for a new car still haven’t received them – and won’t until later this year.

However, while previous models have been aimed pretty squarely at the well-heeled population, the Model 3 is slated to be its first car that will be affordable for the average mom and pop.

That’s an important step for the company – it’s one thing to sell low-volume, high-price cars but it’s an entirely different proposition to be churning them out in the millions – but it’s also a potentially important stepping stone in the acceptance of self-driving cars and other automated driving systems.

If the Model 3 can offer the same ‘auto-drive’ functionality that’s available with the Model S, it’ll be a low barrier to entry for drivers who are interested in the technology and could help acclimatise people to being in driverless cars.

It will, of course, do little to help the frequency at which people are prone to act like idiots, but that’s the price of living.

Tesla [Twitter via The Verge]