Tesla Will Unveil Electric SUV in 2011 and a $30K Electric Car in 2015

By · January 20, 2011

2012 Tesla Model S

Talk is cheap, and Tesla's CEO Elon Musk is using it to make some pretty bold claims about the future of the company. At the Cleantech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, California, yesterday, Musk told a crowd that Tesla would be unveiling their own electric SUV—the Model X—later this year (the company is also the powertrain and battery supplier for the upcoming 2nd generation Toyota RAV4 EV due out in 2012). As a bit of icing on the talk cake, Musk also said that they were on track to sell a $30,000 Tesla vehicle within four years.

While it's true that a start-up like Tesla lives and dies on selling promises to investors, given Tesla's recent winning streak (a successful IPO, a rolling Model S prototype, and some amazing EV engineering), I'm inclined to give Musk the benefit of the doubt. The Model S is one sexy and well-designed electric car—and it's an all-American affair. If Tesla could make a $30,000 vehicle with even half the je ne sais quoi of the $57,000 Model S, it would be an amazing feat for a fledgling automaker. Also, launching their own electric SUV would be no small accomplishment in and of itself.

And, in case you were worried that Musk wouldn't cash in on his cheap talk payday loan, he let those lips fly saying that electric cars are set to sweep the country in an agressive way. According to Musk, by 2020 long range EV batteries will be incredibly cheap and that by 2030 only electric cars will be available for sale in the U.S. Oh yeah, by 2050 almost every vehicle on the road will be electric and almost all transportation—except for rockets—will be electrified.

While we here at PluginCars.com are quite clearly EV supporters, the realists in us take Musk's comments with a grain of salt. You gotta hand it to the man, though, he is an inspiring visionary.

Source: Earth2Tech


· Tom K (not verified) · 7 years ago

Neat stuff. I'm like you however. Hopeful, but taking things with a grain of salt, or two... In the meantime I'd like my LEAF....

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Here's why it doesn't "really" matter as much as people are making it out to be. First off, the car is all electric. Which means that it doesn't have the wear and tear an ICE powered car has. This translates into factory performance specs being the same after mileage and age on the vehicle. Secondly, people's conception of an electric car is misconstrued and short term. The batteries are swappable. Which means that newer batter tech (lighter weight/more KW capacity) can easily be made to fit without any retrofitting of the vehicle itself. Think long term people. And when batteries become lighter (even with no increase in capacity), it will still translate into better performance and longer range. For the money, Tesla is the best car buy today for performance and technology. Although I am pleased to see the Fit EV trials and Leaf break new ground. It should be noted that the above overview applies to those models as well.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm sure Elon Musk will be eternally grateful that some faceless blogger (and this one actually admits that talk is cheap!) named Chalmbers, is giving him the benefit of the doubt. I find it a mystery as to why Chalmbers thinks that building a follow-on SUV (on the same platform as the S , no less!!) will be much of a task. That's a piece of cake. On the other hand, that $30K model will suceed if it can provide more than the paltry 100 mile ranges of the first (practically useless ) EVs to hit the road. One hundred mile EVs are pointless - witness the
disaster that was the EV-1 with its 60 to 70 mile range and batteries that wouldn't power the car when the temps dropped below 45 degrees. The Model S is THE first EV that is superior to its ICE competitors at its price level. With 300 miles and one hour recharging, this car is THE first EV to conquer the driving range obstacle. Also a mystery is why Chalmbers thinks
there will still be gas powered cars for sale after 2020. There most assuredly won't be.
Cheap batteries make gas jobs totally obsolete and impractical and they will be here long before 2020. EVs are, and always have been, innately simpler and more reliable and cheaper to build, run and maintain. If cheap batteries were available at the time of the first EVs, no gas powered car could ever have succeeded. This fact has nothing whatsoever to do with fears about a warming planet ( not that EVs will make much difference on that score). THE big advantages of EVs are the reduction of foreign oil dependencies and ultimate reduction in the cost of transportation.

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous, that's funny. I might be offended except you make very little sense, call me "chalmbers" and "faceless" (especially weird because my face is to the left of this comment and above), and present no compelling reason for me to believe your claims.

· · 7 years ago

One thing I found out recently (and find interesting) is - how big Model S is. 196" in length - which is a full 6" longer than luxury sedans like the Merc E Class or the BMW 6 Series. So, Model S is already in the SUV size range ...

· · 7 years ago

Go easy on Nick. He's one of the good guys.
I also am curious where you got your EV1 information. I, personally drove over 60 miles per day nearly every day for 2 years in an EV1 and there was always plenty of juice left. There were also times when I drove over 100 miles between charges and I didn't baby it. When I drove around 50 mph or less, I was able to coax 135 miles out of it a few times (Salinas, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA) and over 150 once. It was killed because it was good and hence, dangerous to the careers of those who's specialty was not electric propulsion.
I agree that the Tesla Model S is the first EV I've seen announced that has all it takes to truly replace the ICE for nearly everybody. The only caveat being that a lot of those fast charging stations need to be deployed in order for it to work for long trips.

· sparkles (not verified) · 7 years ago

@Nick-great writing and inspiring to see a glimpse of the great things to finally come.
@Anonymous-you kept spelling Nick's last name wrong.
just saying.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

You California People Suck. Listening to you rant about all of the different types of EV's you get to drive makes me sick :-)

· austin (not verified) · 6 years ago

why can't they just put 2 batteries in there, to do 200 miles instead of 100. or even 3 batteries for 300 miles? I know the batteries are big, but can't yall design these things to go under the car somewhere to be able to virtually put as many as you could want in there?

· · 6 years ago

@austin, The Tesla Model S is supposed to come with three different battery pack sizes and ranges, albeit at a price. There are several problems with trying to "just put 2 batteries in there": The first is that the increased weight somewhat lowers the performance of the car. So doubling the battery pack doesn't necessarily give twice the range. But that is a trivial problem. The biggest problem with doubling the battery pack is cost. Li-ion batteries are very expensive and, at present prices, the biggest single expense in an EV. So, doubling the batteries will drastically increase the cost of building the car.

It is hoped that as production volumes increase the unit cost of batteries will decrease, making them more affordable. Until/unless that happens the cost is a significant issue. Nissan and other mass market EV manufacturers will be selling their early model EVs at a loss for some years to come, in the hope that they can make a profit in later years when production volume increases. In the meantime, for their early EV models, they have to balance cost versus range. The 80-100 mile range of the launch models was likely selected because it is more than most people drive in a day, especially for commuting, but it doesn't require a battery pack so large that the cost becomes prohibitive. Tesla is trying a different approach by selling a limited number of cars with much longer ranges at much higher prices to the limited number of people able and willing to pay for them.

So, it is easy to say that car manufacturers should just increase the size of the battery packs to get longer ranges but it is very hard to do and still have a car that is affordable for the mass market and doesn't lose too much money for the car maker. The trick is to find the "sweet spot" between range and cost. If battery prices come down significantly in the future that should increase options considerably.

· · 6 years ago

@austin (not verified) "I know the batteries are big, but can't yall design these things to go under the car somewhere to be able to virtually put as many as you could want in there?"

No you can't. Batteries are heavy & bulky.

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