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It’s been about for decades but the humble company car, as we know it, is heading for a 21st century shake-up in 2017 with the arrival of the new Tesla Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 red and silverYou may know the California-based electric car maker from the striking Model S saloon, which crams supercar-like performance into a seven-seater saloon, but this new more affordable car is set to make Tesla a household name and more interestingly, maybe the first words out the mouth of every company car driver in the land.

In the four days following its high profile unveiling, the Model 3 – which is about the size of a Mercedes C-Class – secured 276,000 refundable deposits of $1,000 from around the world; a reaction explosive enough to stun Tesla CEO Elon Musk into admitting that they’ll need to reassess the production process and how they can actually deliver these cars.

With an extra $276 million dumped into its account virtually overnight, Tesla will have plenty of cash to work that out and if all of those pre-orders actually come to fruition, it’d spell a £9.7 billion windfall for the brand, and that’s just going off business generated so far.

But why such ravenous demand for a car that no-one has barely seen, let alone driven?

Reputation, partly. Tesla has demonstrated its powers with the Model S – a car that redefined not just electric cars with its 315 mile range but also luxury cars, family cars, performance cars.

However, with asking price ranging between £58,800 and £87,300 before any Government incentives, the Model S is a premium product with a justifiably premium price tag, and at time of writing, business contract hire rates for the S average out at £831.

What makes the Model 3 such a big deal is its promise to repackage what the S does with a much more accessible ticket price of $35,000 (£24,400, although that is expected to climb slightly when official UK prices are eventually confirmed).

Range

From a single charge, the 3 will be able to drive at least 215 miles (the distance between London and Manchester), which should be more than enough for the majority of company car drivers. Plus, an ever expanding network of Superchargers can refill the car’s battery to 80% of its capacity in 40 minutes.

Performance

Model 3 will be typically potent for a Tesla too, getting to 60mph in under six seconds; again, more than enough zip for the average business car driver. If they fancy taking it easy though, they can hand over control to the car’s Autopilot function.

Safety

Tesla has already said that it won’t settle for anything less than a maximum five star safety rating – something which is tougher to secure with Euro NCAP’s increasingly stricter test criteria.

The five most searched-for business lease cars in 2015 on ContractHireAndLeasing.com are:

Breaking into the above business car elite isn’t easy, but competition has never scared Tesla before.

Put simply, there won’t have been a more exciting time in the company car sector when the reliably audacious and pioneering Tesla rolls into town.