Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Chief Technical Officer, JB Straubel, has revealed more details about the company’s fully-electrical vision. Information about the long-awaited, entry-level Model 3 remains speculative, but we now know that it will be offered in both Sedan and Crossover versions.
So far, Tesla’s models have been offered with a single body style with various performance packages, and premium price tags. This high-end, high-ticket approach has sold a modest 60,000 units as of 2014. With a release set for 2017, Elon Musk fully expects the Model 3 to sell 10 times as many units by 2020.
According to Elon Musk, the vehicle will have a range of at least 200 miles, similar to previous models. But with its so-called “third-generation” lithium-ion battery array, it will debut with an estimated MSRP of $35,000—half that of Tesla’s second and only current production vehicle, the Model S. By featuring model variation, the automaker may be trying to dominate the electric car market in the same way that the Ford F-Series has lead the truck market for decades. And without 100-years of gasoline polluting its waters, Tesla has been able to drive public attention to its small pond.
Founded in 2003, Tesla reached initial profitability by the end of 2009. It’s flashy ($109,000) 288 hp Roadster Sport won many early awards although only 2,450 units were delivered when the first-generation vehicle was halted in 2012. The Tesla Model S sedan was introduced in 2012 and the 4WD Crossover Model X is set to hit the roads later this year.
Straubel has credited the company’s continued development of smaller, lighter lithium-ion batteries with multiple firms including Samsung SDI and Panasonic Corp. But as Chevrolet, Nissan, and others race to release their own fully-electric vehicles, will Tesla’s investments be enough to establish a 21st automobile mark, or will it, like its namesake, give its contributions for an inevitable technology?