Will Tesla Motors Hit The Mainstream Market?

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors has been a pacesetter when it comes to lithium-ion powered cars, but with one important caveat: only the rich can afford their $109,000 Tesla Roadster. Even as a second model is being planned (Tesla S), a six- or seven-passenger sedan expected to retail for close to $57,000 when it goes on sale in 2011 or 2012, only people who currently purchase BMW, Mercedes and Lexus models will be able to afford these pricey cars.

Mass Produced Tesla Model

Tesla MotorsNow, Tesla Motors says that they plan on mass producing a third model that should retail for just under $30,000 thanks to a $465 million low interest loan from the U.S. Energy Department. Expected to go on sale in 2016, the unnamed Tesla vehicle could help the automaker expand from the exotic car segment to a family friendly, budget preserving segment.

For certain, the Tesla Roadster hasn’t been much of a seller yet. Just over 700 cars have been produced on a Heath, UK assembly line, a facility that also builds Lotus models. Tesla is looking at a California facility for the Tesla S, a model that may sell as many as 20,000 units annually, thanks in part to a $7500 federal rebate.

Recently, Tesla announced that the company was investing $100 million to open up a powertrain plant to be located on the grounds of the Stanford Research Park; the company is currently looking at several sites in Southern California for its manufacturing base. Tesla also made it known that it isn’t interested in NUMMI, the former joint Toyota-GM venture that is slated to close down next Spring.

Extended Range Helps Tesla

Despite its high price, the Tesla Roadster has a strong advantage when it comes to range, able to travel as far as 244 miles on a single charge. This compares to about one hundred miles for the upcoming Nissan and proposed Coda Automotive models or to the Chevy Volt which will travel some forty miles before a small gas engine kicks in to extend its range.

The Tesla S is expected to be offered with several different battery range options of 160-, 230- and 300-miles. Tesla is engineering the “S” to allow owners to swap out batteries as needed which means that a buyer could choose the shorter range battery when ordering their car, but rent a larger range battery if needed. No word yet on what sort of battery option would be made available for the third Tesla model.

Further Reading

Tesla Motors Opens First North Carolina Supercharger Station

Source: Automotive News


  1. Corey says

    We can do Electric Flying Vehicles now, what we lack is a back up in case of malfunction…. No biggie if your car dies or won’t start, but if you are in the air, think back on Newton.

    I’m glad Tesla is keeping their horizon broad, but I think they’d do better lower pricing on the S versus developing a third model.

  2. Matt says

    Electric flying cars? What?! Are we in Jetsons land or something? Anyway, the mass produced Tesla model could help usher in a sea change for the industry. By then, lots of manufacturers will have alternative powered cars on the road, but a pure electric model selling for under $30K could be a bit of a stretch.

    Just think — seven years isn’t so far away.

  3. says

    I am glad to hear that Tesla will produce a car within my reach. Sad that it will not be until 2016. I hope to still be in a position to afford such a car when that date rolls around.

    Also keep in mind when 2016 gets here that electric flying cars should also be available. Will Tesla be able to compete with that?
    .-= Auto repair mechanic´s last blog ..Traction Control Automotive Technology =-.