New Model E from Tesla will look to take on the BMW 3-series and Audi A4, and could go on sale in 2016

Telsa’s upcoming compact electric saloon will be “realistically” priced against rivals such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, according to Chris Porritt, the company’s vice-president of engineering. 

Porritt, a Brit who left Aston Martin last year to join Tesla, told Autocar that the price of batteries was the key calculation when engineering the model, which is expected in late 2016-early 2017. “Building the Gigafactory will help make battery manufacturing more cost-effective,” he said. 

Porritt also said that the small car would be constructed from “appropriate materials” and would not be based on the same all-aluminium platform as the Model S. Tesla boss Elon Musk has already revealed that the new ‘Model E’ will be about 20 per cent smaller than today’s Model S.

Porritt said:  “I expect there will be very little carry-over. We’ve got to be cost-effective. We can’t use aluminium for all the [small car’s] components.” This suggests that the Model E will use mostly steel in its make-up, although it will probably use bonding and rivets in its construction.

When Autocar spoke to Porritt, he was at Tesla’s southern California studio working on the upcoming Model X SUV. He said the seven–seater was based on the same platform and wheelbase as the Model S saloon, but some of the suspension had been changed. 

He said the unusual ‘swan wing’ rear doors had been designed to make it easier to load children, as well as making the third row of seats more accessible. They will appear on the showroom version, which is due to go on sale late next year.

Porritt said he has been working on the Model S, refining the manufacturing process and modifying components so that they can be made more efficiently. He also executed the conversion to right-hand drive, opening up markets in the UK, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong. 

Porritt was bullish about the further potential for the expanding Tesla brand. “If you get the car right, it doesn’t matter that it’s electric,” he said. He was scathing about the studied “differentness” of electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf. “People don’t want to look eccentric. They want to have pride in their car’s looks. Our biggest advocates are our [existing] customers,” he said.

Tesla is currently building 600 examples of the Model S each week at its factory in Freemont and expects Model X sales to add significantly to that total. The factory has a theoretical capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year. 

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Tesla Model S

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Comments
11

1 July 2014
Needs to be better looking than the Model X SUV pictured although if the BMW X series can sell in numbers then a high riding wheel barrow with a motor could in that segment. Whilst on BMW I wonder how long it'll take them to react with a plug-in 3 series, spurring the competion on is a sign of a successful product I knew the Model S was a success but I didn't realise just how well it had done for the new car company, 600 a week.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

1 July 2014
... the market for luxury cars is. Hence the co. of Tesla picked the right market. A Model T application for electric cars is probably some years away - still. Due to inherent cost of current battery tech.

1 July 2014
A factory with a therotical capacity of 500,000 cars yet only making 31200 is not a success IMO. The Model S is a gymick, you just have to look at it's main export market, Norway, to see that, it's only succeeding due to the favourable contitions electric cars recieve compared to convential vehicles. Once those conditions are dropped in 2015 the Tesla's main export market will die. The Model S is not a luxury car either, at best it's an executive model, it cannot be compared with S Class, 7 Series, A8, XJ or LS. The interior fit and finish is not worthy of the price charged by Tesla. I also believe the model X will be a flop, I'm sorry but most SUV's that I see in Norway, which I will be it's main export market, carry ski racks and/or roofbox's plus people tow with them, the model X cannot tow and will not be able to fit a roofbox, ski rack, bike carrier, canoe rack, or pretty much anything you can expect active people to carry on the rook of their SUV.

2 July 2014
Deleted and reposted

2 July 2014
KiwiRob wrote:
A factory with a therotical capacity of 500,000 cars yet only making 31200 is not a success IMO.
If you don't know why Tesla are only making 31200 cars a year you don't know much about Tesla, their business model and the challenges they are facing. Come back in 10 years KiwiRob and let us know what you think then...

1 July 2014
... to be good for towing. As electric motors give full torque from zero rounds per minute. That being said, range is probably going to be quite small when towing. But if a person isn't going far that might be ok.

1 July 2014
It's plain to see their 10 year plan; early adopter cars, electrical infrastructure and a mass manufacture of batteries driving down price to finally compete with ICE on price (2020). It's a privilege to watch the future unfold I'm just waiting for him to announce mass solar panelling of the world's deserts to produce a global grid. You can see how technically we are currently capable of creating a utopian world. unfortunately 1 in 100 people have psychopathic personalities and 14 in 100 are sociopaths with a disproportionate number reaching positions of power.

1 July 2014
... as prices of batteries are also connected with the high prices of lithium as there are not that many mines out there operating, and suppliers are keeping prices up - understandably from their point of view. You'd need new type of batteries using some other material that's cheaper.

1 July 2014
Einarbb wrote:
... as prices of batteries are also connected with the high prices of lithium as there are not that many mines out there operating, and suppliers are keeping prices up - understandably from their point of view. You'd need new type of batteries using some other material that's cheaper.
A certain type of Iron battery is 100% recyclable, turns into harmless powder when punctured (not set on fire ala Tesla Model S), seriously dirt cheap and has a good capacity. The downsides are that the batteries are much bigger and the charge rate is much lower. Considering how much empty space is at the front of cars like the Model S, size isn't that much of a concern. Though, you wouldn't be able to boost charge the batteries, it'd need to be overnight.

1 July 2014
The Nissan Leaf does not look very unusual, unlike the BMW I3 and I8, which Mr. Porrit does not mention. Not everybody wants a car that looks like every other car. Some people even like gull-wing doors...

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