Maybe you’re familiar with Touch-A-Truck. Held throughout the United States, these events invite wide-eyed youngsters to climb inside fire engines, dump trucks, tractors, and semi-trucks to get an up-close look at these specialized vehicles.
A Bellevue Square storefront was the site of a similar event over the weekend, but this one was for grown-ups.
Call it Touch-A-Tesla.
Shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Tesla officials opened the company’s showroom and a crowd of people streamed inside for an opportunity to slip behind the wheel of the company’s latest all-electric vehicle — the four-door Tesla Model 3 sedan. It was the first public showing of the vehicle in Washington state. Tesla began to accept pre-sale reservations in March 2016, and recently started to deliver vehicles to customers.
On Friday, three Tesla vehicles — a dark-silver grey Model S, an alabaster-white Model X with its gull wing doors raised, and a rich red Model 3 — radiated under the showroom’s lights, as vibrant and varicolored as Skittles candy. At an any given time, an orderly line of several-dozen people waited for up to 45 minutes for a Tesla representative to usher individuals or small groups to the Model 3, where they were allowed about two minutes to sit inside the vehicle, explore its features, and ask questions of knowledgeable Tesla staff.
The Model 3 is roomy enough for five adults, and a 15-inch center-mounted touch screen display has replaced more conventional, dashboard-mounted knobs and buttons typically used to control things such as GPS navigation, the temperature inside the vehicle, and music selection.
A fully-charged Tesla Model 3 can travel 310 miles, according to company officials, and can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds. Tesla offers a network of more than 1,100 vehicle charging stations throughout North America, making longer road trips possible. Model 3 owners pay about $15 for a road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles, according to Tesla officials, and about $120 from Los Angeles to New York.
Over the past decade or so, Tesla, a Bay Area-based company led by tech entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk, has produced four vehicles — a two-door Roadster (base price $200,000); Model S sedan (base price $68,000); Model X Sport Utility Vehicle (base price $79,500), and the new Model 3 (base price $35,000).
According to Tesla officials, the company has received 450,000 orders for the Model 3 since March 2016. Although manufacturing setbacks have hindered its mass-production, a company official said Friday the goal is to produce 2,500 vehicles per week by end of the first quarter of 2018, and 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of the second quarter.