The laudable aim of Tesla to produce an “economy” electric vehicle in the $20 to 30 grand range is undoubtedly much less significant given the attention that major automakers are now giving to achieving that same goal. Nevertheless that project, code named “Bluestar”, has long been a part of Tesla’s plans, and at the very least will foster even more competition for this important emerging sector of auto manufacturing.
To that end, the next model to be produced in Tesla’s factories will be the Model S, a luxury sports sedan with a price tag of about $60,000 that is due out near the end of 2010. While the Roadster is being assembled, Tesla is preparing the production center for its next model, a zero-emissions luxury sedan. Tesla is building a $250 million facility that will include a production plant for the new sedan as well as its corporate headquarters and R&D center in San Jose, California. It will be located in San Jose, California. The new Tesla sedan, referred to as the “Model S”, will be in a 4 door, 5 seat configuration. It will use lithium ion batteries for a maximum range of 225 miles and its base price will be about $60,000 or over $40,000 cheaper than the Roadster’s price tag.
A more expensive version may come later equipped with a range extending internal combustion engine to charge the batteries when you are unable to get the car to a plug-in, like the the Chevrolet Volt. The first Tesla Model S is expected to roll off the production line in late 2010. The technology from the Model S will be integrated to some degree in not only the Bluestar, but in a series of possible Tesla vehicles including a minvan, coupe or light duty pickup truck. While you may think Tesla would be concerned with the mounting number of electric cars that appear to be moving towards production, such as the Chevy Volt, these cars actually demonstrate the viability of electric vehicles to many who may have viewed them previously as glorified golf carts. In fact, according to Tesla Executives a collaboration with one of the Big Three may be a part of Tesla’s future. It is certainly more cost effective and mutually beneficial for Tesla to develop a partnership with a major manufacturer in the production of hundreds of thousands of electric cars. By doing so, Tesla and such an automaker would overcome the inherently higher cost of the technological component manufacturing needed in electric vehicles by sheer volume. Tesla would use their existing proprietary technologies, such as the battery pack and powertrain to negotiate such a plan. While a future plug-in hybrid has not been ruled out, Tesla believes that all-electric technology has advantages over plug-in hybrids. For one, the smaller battery in plug-in hybrids translates into more charging cycles, which means that they will need to be replaced sooner. The larger the battery the more durable and and economical it is. In any case, only when electric vehicles offer a cost that is reasonably similar to fuel cars will they be a widely acceptable alternative for most consumers.