Next for Tesla: new small crossover and compact sedan

Article by Anita Panait, on June 1, 2013

Tesla Motors Inc. will be adding two new models to its vaunted vehicle lineup, according to chief executive Elon Musk. The new models will be a new small crossover and a new compact sedan – both of which will share a third-generation platform. According to Muck, the new small crossover and the new compact sedan will be smaller and less costly than the $70,000 Model S sedan that went on sale last summer and the Model X crossover that will be launched next year.

The small sedan – called internally as Gen 3 since it will be underpinned by Tesla’s third-generation platform – will compete against the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series and will have a starting price of around $30,000, Musk said.

It could be available for sale "in the next three to four years." Musk suggested that the compact crossover, meanwhile, may share some design cues, including gull-wing doors, with the 2014 Model X. The compact crossover may compete against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 crossovers.

One of the major differences between premium European models and Tesla’s new models will be the propulsion system. While premium European models are powered by conventional engines, Tesla’s third-generation vehicles will be powered by electric motors and lithium-ion batteries and fully able to use the carmaker’s fast-charge stations.

Musk said that Tesla is accelerating plans to expand its fast-charge network across the United States and Canada, with 25 charging stations installed in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Seattle and Portland and others by end of June.

Tesla currently operates eight Supercharger stations -- including six in California, one in Connecticut and one in Delaware. Tesla’s Supercharger networks will eventually grow to 200 stations, with up to 3,000 charging ports, Musk disclosed. The carmaker will announced later this year a similar fast-charge network for Europe.

Even from the beginning, the Model X was created to be electric. In fact, Tesla said that it wanted this model to be one of the safest cars on the road. The brand has conducted its very own crash tests and revealed that for all the categories, this model was able to attain 5-star safety ratings. This means the Model S will be the first such SUV to have high ratings.

Active safety is one of the main features of the Model X which is fitted with the automatic emergency braking as standard. There is also the side collision avoidance, also a standard. The goal of these active safety systems is to make sure that accidents are prevented from happening. In addition, the automatic emergency braking system in the Model X is the only version that works even when running at high speed.

Tesla disclosed as well that all Model X will have the 360-degree sonar sensors, radar, and forward-looking camera, the combination of which will allow for the cutting-edge autopilot features. Already sophisticated, the features are enhanced further through the regular over-the-air software updates. As such, both convenience and safety features, like the autopark and autosteer, have their capability enhanced as well.

This allows the Model X to be nearer as ever to autonomous operation. When talking about safety, it also helps that since there is no need to have a large gas engine placed under the hood, it results in this vehicle having a large crumple zone that can help absorb any of the energy that is generated in the event of a high-speed impact. Considering that the battery has been placed on the floor, the center of gravity is extremely low. This lowers the possibility of rollover from occurring, a problem typical of many SUVs.

The pillars are composed of aluminum which is strengthened with the addition of steel rails. This ensures that both occupants and battery are protected while stiffness of the roof is improved. Going to the interior, the Model X is clearly the cleanest SUV in the world. Its front fascia has been designed in a way that the functional duct is able to push the air through the first ever true HEPA filter-system fitted in a car. This system ensures that no matter what the condition may be on the outside, the cabin is filled with medical-grade air.

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Topics: tesla, crossover, sedan

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