High-performance electric car maker promises affordable compact saloon by 2015

Tesla, the US-based maker of high-performance electric cars, is aiming to launch a volume-selling BMW 3-series-sized saloon by 2015 in a bid to lift total Tesla volume to around 200,000 cars a year.

Tesla’s chairman and CEO, Elon Musk, founded PayPal and a business called SpaceX that builds satellites for the US government.

He recently revealed the Tesla Model S luxury saloon, which will go into production in mid-2012, priced at around $50,000 (likely to become £50,000 in the UK).

Tesla S set for 2012 launch

That model will spawn “at least two” offshoots, probably a crossover and a coupé, and lift Tesla volume to between 30,000 and 40,000 cars per year.

The new Tesla ‘3-series’, which Musk says will be the model that finally optimises the automotive technology his engineers have been developing for all future Teslas, will further lower the entry price to the Tesla range to around $30,000 and, with offshoot models, could push total volume towards 200,000 a year.

Like the Model S, the new saloon will have a monocoque aluminium structure formed from Tesla’s own stampings, with assembly in a new Tesla factory in southern California.

Equipping the factory to make Tesla’s new models — anything up to six separate models using the same basic architecture and mechanical hardware — will require $500 million.

Tesla is also due to increase its presence in the UK and Europe with the expansion of a new European HQ in London later this year.

Steve Cropley

Twitter - follow autocar.co.ukSee all the latest Tesla reviews, news and video

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