Tesla will launch a more affordable smaller electric sedan in late 2016

Article by Anita Panait, on June 5, 2013

Tesla Motors will be launching a smaller electric sedan in late 2016, chief executive Elon Musk has revealed during an annual meeting of shareholders. According to Tesla’s top honcho, the smaller sedan, dubbed as “Gen III,” will have a range of 200 miles and will have a starting price that is around half of the flagship Model S.

Since the current Model S starts at $62,400, the Gen III car would have a base price similar to the Nissan Leaf SV and would have three times the real-world range. According to Musk, the Gen III will have a "family resemblance" in design to the current lineup.

He indicated that Gen III may feature "some autopilot or self-driving elements," but said those technology might not be ready when the first unit is rolled out to the public. Musk remarked that a significant improvement in technology is needed to have a compelling affordable electric car, which should have a useful range of 200 miles.

Tesla’s CEO said the carmaker is collaborating with Panasonic on new battery-cell electrochemistry optimized for use in vehicles. He expressed optimism that advances in energy storage and energy density technology can be made "without any miracles happening." Musk disclosed the demand of the Model S in the United States is steady at 15,000 units annually through the second quarter of 2013.

The carmaker will commence shipping vehicles to Europe in late June and to Asia in the fourth quarter of 2013. Musk said that altogether, demand is around 40,000 annualized vehicles. Although a slide presented at the meeting showed that demand was around 30,000 units, Musk corrected the figures to 40,000. Tesla’s CEO said that the carmaker will physically deliver around 21,000 units this year.

Mixing efficiency, performance, and safety, the Model S from Tesla is a good example of how automotive engineering can still be evolved. Aside from being the first sedan to be fully electric, it is projected to change how the world view 21st century cars. Helping cement this is that the Model S has the longest range for an electric vehicle and has earned the highest possible safety ratings.

Further, software updates are available over-the-air, resulting in making this model even better. Talking about safety, a large portion of this is mainly due to the use of the brand’s platform wherein the distinct electric drivetrain has been positioned under the car. This resulted in a low center of gravity and thus minimizes the possibility of the Model S experiencing rollover.

As proof, this model has been awarded the 5-star safety ratings by both the Euro NCAP and the NHTSA. Further, during testing conducted in the U.S., it was found out that the Model S set the records of having the lowest likelihood of injury to the occupants. As mentioned earlier, the Tesla architecture meant that the battery is placed on the floor, giving the Model S a low center of gravity.

While it does lower the rollover risk, this configuration improves both performance and handling. In addition, since there is no engine, it means that there is a larger region for the crumple zone. It also implies that when compared to other performance sedans in the market, the Model S is able to absorb more energy generated in the event of a front end impact.

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