Tesla Motors' Affordable Electric Car Is Only A Year Away

Tesla Motors has what might just be the world's best car in the Model S, and a more versatile version of that chassis in the Model X, but it doesn't have a car for the masses. That particular vehicle might be closer than we first thought, with an early 2015 unveiling apparently possible.

According to the LA Times, Tesla's third-generation passenger car -- after the Tesla Roadster, and the platform-sharing Model S and Model X -- is on track for a 2016-17 launch window. That's slightly sooner than we were expecting, with a possible debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show meaning the car might even go on sale, in North America at least, by the end of that year. Australian availability will almost certainly be delayed, of course, but we'd put a dollar on the car making its way Down Under by the end of 2016.

Tesla's future electric car, unofficially called the Model E after Tesla filed for a trade mark on the title, should have a battery capable of around 320km of travel on a single charge, and should be 20 per cent smaller than the Model S -- but all of these stats are largely conjecture cobbled together from various executive and engineering interviews with company staff.

Similar conjecture has pegged the price around US$30,000, so given Tesla's price parity policy and the usual import tariffs, we're expecting a locally landed price starting at around $50,000 -- not cheap, but affordable, and much more so than the $100,000-plus Model S luxury sedan. [LA Times]



    "Zero Compromises" ???
    At 320km, it means you can't visit anything more then 160km away and make it back home on the same charge... given the distance things are away in Australia that's simply not practical.

    Last edited 31/03/14 12:32 pm

      Some cars only get a similar mileage using petrol; stop at a petrol/charging station along the way. Problem solved(ish)

        Filling the tank with petrol = less then 5 min
        Filling the battery with charge = around 9 hours (from a 240 power point)

        That means a trip Sydney to Melbourne would take 36+ hours (vs 10 hours in a petrol car). Tesla's "super chargers" still take 75min for a full charge. So even IF that existed in AUS, SYD to MEL would take an extra 4 hours.

        10 hours of driving is the max most people would ever do in a day (i.e. a Syd to Mel)... once they can do around 1100km on a charge OR recharge in less then an hour, they simply won't be really accepted in countries like Australia.

        I'd love to have one, but at 320km... I just know I'd forget to plug it in one night and be stuffed the next day

        Last edited 31/03/14 1:17 pm

          Driving between capital cities is far from a common occurrence for most people. The vast majority of drivers would not have to make any compromises in their driving patterns if they had one of Tesla's cars instead of their usual petrol(/diesel/gas) car.

          You must find it hard to get by with a smart phone then. With some only barley lasting one day with 'light' usage. And then to top it off, forgetting to plug the damn thing in each night.

            I'm sure most people would find it harder if the car didn't start... vs the phone being flat.

          The Model S is capable of receiving a battery swap in 2 minutes.
          If similar technology is available to the new "Model E" then range becomes a non issue, especially as more infrastructure is rolled out.

          Last edited 31/03/14 4:53 pm

            I've always thought that a system of quick battery change over would be a better than charging.

          They should make electric tradie vehicles. Drive to work, plug it in for the 8 hours you are there, and drive home. Plug in again. It would be perfect. Besides. 99 percent of the time, most people only drive a maximum of 60kays in a day. If you are the type of person who drives out in the country a lot, buy a second petrol car. Most families have two cars nowadays. I'm single and I have two cars. Having one that is electric would be great.

          Forget to plug in your cellphone much? Laptop?

      Fast charging stations? Gives the car plenty of juice in around 20 mins. Saying it's "simply not practical" in Aus is a pedantic response. Many people would find it entirely practical.

      Your'e forgetting battery swap stations or recharge terminals, that would hopefully implemented at the current fuel stations located across Australia.

      Can't remember the location of the statistic, but I think it was 99.9% of all daily trips within the US that are within the range of a Model S' full charge. Long trips are much much rarer than short daily zips.

        Campbell, that's the US... a country in which the next "big" city isn't 1000km away. Starting from eastern suburbs Sydney, 320km means anything south of the Southern highlands, west of Lithgow or North of Newcastle... equals a 75min to 9 hour charge stop before making it home again.

          You clearly don't like the idea of an electric vehicle, but as outlined above, a fast charge (half hour for half charge (which is a toilet and coffee break), or a battery swap. Thats over 500km in a day with one stop of half an hour for a supercharge, 650odd km for a battery swap that takes less time than that.

            I'd love an electric. All this talk of "supercharges" or "battery swaps" is great but...
            Size of the USA 9.827 million km² with a population of 313.9 million
            Size of Australia 7.692 million km² with a population of 22.6 million

            Economic wise I don't see Tesla rolling them out like they did in the US, we aren't that much smaller then the states (esp when you take out Alaska) for a 10th of the population.

              how many people actually drives that distance on a daily basis?
              from my perspective (I live in Perth), most people only need to travel 100km a day tops (to and from work with occasional detours for a night out).

          What percentage of the population do you think travels interstate on a regular basis?

          In my opinion, most people would travel to/from work, the shops, friends places.
          Those places would surely be less than 160km away from your house.

          Whenever you're home, plug the car in, and it's good to go whenever you need to leave.

          Obviously, it wouldn't work with yourself, as you seem to regularly travel interstate.
          But you can't group "Australia" as living the exact same life as yourself.

          The US is pretty big as well, mate. I drove 8160km across it in June last year.

          I agree with you that the 320km range rules out long distance trips in a short time frame. But that's clearly not what this car is for, in the same way that you wouldn't want to use any other city car for the job if you could at all avoid it.

      I'd fly anywhere further than 300km in 90% of the situations. Driving it mundane and pointless and flying is quicker, easier(for me) and I don't have to drive which means I can catch up on reading.

        All these battery only electric cars require battery pack swap at service station that takes a comparable amount of time to fill up with gas, so means all these manufacturers should spec a standard battery pack to be used in all these cars regardless of body and particular motor etc. Else you have a city car which is probably quite good getting u to work n back on the cheap

          Totally Agree, last thing we need are proprietary batteries from different manufactures fragmenting the market a standard needs to be imposed.

      I cycle to work, and my wife drives 25k each way to work. Perfect for our needs. Our longest trip would be up or down the coast, less than 100ks.

        O your a perfect candidate for the already available Nissan LEAF. At $39990 drive away it's even more affordable than a Tesla and fits your needs perfectly already. :)

      'Zero Compromises' is taking it a little too far, but it does illustrate a point.

      As others have said, most trips are relatively short. Given the amount of money you would not be spending on fuel day-to-day, getting a hire car for the long trips could become financially viable.
      At least for most people. Not everyone. Depending on the performance, I'd consider swapping my RX8 for a ModelE.

      320km is plenty even in Australia.
      The whole "distance of things in Australia" argument is ridiculous and an argument put forward by petrol companies to protect their interests.
      The average daily commute for someone in Australia is 40km.
      320km can get me from Wollongong to the Blue Mountains and back on a single tank which is great for a weekend getaway. Or Sydney to the Hunter one way with quite a bit to spare.
      And even then I would only do that MAYBE once or twice a year.
      I go from Wollongong to Sydney a lot and it's more then enough to cover that off.
      Very few people would go further then a 320km round trip on any regular basis.

      What you do of course is put a petrol driven charger (DC at the correct voltage or perhaps AC if you want to have more losses) in the boot.
      Hook it up and pull the cord when you first start on your long trip and get double the distance.

        The battery is min 60 kW hours and to charge that you would need to burn around 6 gallons of fuel in your generator. If you want to do that you are probably better of getting a petrol car. Petrol is a wonderfully good store of energy per mass which is why we won't see electric planes for a long time.

        Charging on a 1.5 kW solar system will also be unacceptably slow - 15kw hours per week so 4 weeks to charge your car! But that's not the point! You charge at a rapid rate from the grid and then slow feed your energy back in from solar.

        Most of us will use the Tesla for short trip city driving and the savings turning high friction petrol motors with valves, rings, heavy springs and cams at idle time sitting in traffic will be great. The other great thing is there is probably only one moving part in the motor so great reliability potentially -not sure on out the KERS though. All in all though, I can't wait for people here to switch to electric cars.
        Long overdue.

      My trip to and from work 5 days a week was 38km each side, so at 10 trips (to and from work) thats roughly 380Km a week. If I can get through 4 days on one charge, I'd say that's pretty good and I'd be able to live with that. The price is another story.

    Tesla Motors' Affordable Electric Car Is Only A Year Away.
    Who is it affordable to? Can you be a little more specific please?

      More affordable than the $100,000 Model S. Affordable in that it is in the same range as a Commodore, Falcon, or Aurion. Affordable in that it is able to be afforded by the average Australian buyer :)

    At ~$50k it’d compete nicely with the mid-sized cars from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. As long as it’s similarly spec’d, I’d be interested in one for the around town car. Just charge it each night and I’d have more than enough range for a day’s driving to and from the office and errands around town.

    You’d probably come out ahead with the minimal running costs (almost no servicing)!

    Why isnt anyone thinking of charging their car at work. I know all my co-workers charge their phones at work. And all them Car park company's could install "electric car only" parking spots so they wont have to shell out millions to install charging stations for every car, only the small (at the moment) fleet of electric cars.

    I just bought an electric bicycle BH Neo 29er for $2600 with deal assist. I travel a round trip of about 30km each day doing speeds around 30km/h and use less than half the battery charge sports mode (second top mode) on that trip. Cost of a full charge is rumored to be about 10 cents. If I charged it every day that would be about $3 per month. I peak hour traffic my travel time is slightly more than a car (5 or 10min). The bike handles steep hills with ease, like riding an exercise bike with no resistance. This with out a doubt the best purchase I've ever made and hell of a lot of fun to ride. Watching peoples expressions as what looks like a normal mountain bike take of from the traffic light at 30 km/h is fantastic.

    Man you must live super far from work.

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