With the demise of the Lotus Elise in the United States, the Tesla Roadster's fate was sealed. With no chassis rolling out of Hethel, Tesla had to end production of the Roadster and shift its focus to the Model S and the just-revealed Model X.

But some kind of Roadster successor has always been in the cards and as Tesla's SEC filings revealed two years ago, the new sports car was supposed to arrive next year. But according to Elon Musk, the release of the next Tesla Roadster could be as far as four years away. And probably longer.

Speaking with Inside Line, Musk said said that Tesla's next project will be its "Gen 3" electric car; a smaller, mass-market EV that will carry a more affordable price tag. Originally, this new model was going to launch in 2016, but Musk revealed that the automaker is now "thinking early 2015."

While the escalated timeline is good for EVs, it's not good for EV enthusiasts. According to Musk, the next Roadster won't be out until after the Gen 3 launches, and that means Tesla won't have another sports car until 2016 at the earliest.


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  • 54 Comments
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is fantastic news as far as I'm concerned because the "Bluestar" is the EV I want to buy - I think. Max battery, and maybe the performance version is calling out to me. The thought occurred that there might be political reasons for the timing. The Obama administration will be very favorable to Tesla and the 2016 (likely) Republican President might not be. Probably not the reason but the idea hit me and I thought I'd throw it out there...
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Another good reason for the move to a mass market vehicle might be to clinch a major battery deal. Higher volume = lower cost per battery. Tesla recently did this for the Model S with its partner Panasonic.
          Nick
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          The battery business is already suffering enough under over-capacity and competition, the kind of environment favorable to automakers. I think they should be able to secure a killer deal with any battery maker at this point.
        marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        @Grendal I really hope Elon Musk can successfully produce the Bluestar project. But, while you are waiting, why not buy a volt or leaf in the meantime? It's very unlikely that any US government will continue to provide the $7500 tax break in 4-5 years time. But by then, both Tesla and EV technology should be so well established that Tesla won't need the government incentive to survive! By then most of the major established automaker will have each released an increasing selection of EVs and EREVs, so there will be a wide choice available. But right now, a 25% plus tax break on a new Leaf, Volt or iMev, must be irresistible to you?
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        You don't think Hillary will be able to win in 2016? It will be a pretty easy race in my mind.
          Grendal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ryan
          And, in my opinion, the reason a President usually lasts for two terms is because the world hasn't blown up in the first term, so whoever it is must be okay. Obama will win against either Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich, no problem. :)
          Grendal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ryan
          In my lifetime, it's been back and forth between the political parties every 8ish years. Just recently Reagan/Bush (R), Clinton (D), then Bush (R), now Obama (D). The pendulum swings back and forth between the two parties as the public becomes dissatisfied with whatever party is in office. Which, in my opinion, means they are just dissatified with the government in general but blame whoever is currently in charge. So that means that the next president after Obama will likely be a Republican. At least that's what I think - no chance for Hillary.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Still thinking about this - what if the Post-Obama President gets rid of the $7500 tax break. That would be a very big reason to get the mass market vehicle on the road ASAP.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why couldn't they simply order XY numer of chassis from Lotus before they stopped production?
        Rotation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        It wasn't a very good platform for an EV anyway. The battery is too far back and up too high. It ruins the handling. I think Tesla made the right move concentrating on the Model S and leaving the Roadster alone until they can make it with their own design instead of a modified Lotus chassis.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Letstakeawalk: http://fwd.channel5.com/fifth-gear/videos/supercars/tesla-roadster-sport Go to 2m45s. Unlike Clarkson, Tiff Nedell is an actual race driver. The Roadster doesn't handle as well as the Lotus it is related to. With the next vehicle with the batteries down low instead of up high and in the middle of the car, it's quite possible it will outhandle cars similar to it instead of being bested. Sure, it might be a bit heavier than comparable cars, but the weight distribution improvements compared to gas cars could put it over the top.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          I think you misunderstood what I wrote, and what Clarkson said. He agreed with you. He said the Roadster wasn't as good as the Lotus.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          To be honest, Rotation, I've never heard anyone complain about the Roadster's handling. So I guess I shouldn't try to defend such a, as you say, compromised design. To further your point, in the infamous Top Gear libel lawsuit, Tesla didn't object to Clarkson's description of the handling as "less rosy" and not as good as the Lotus Elise it was based on.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          You do know that Tesla designed the chassis exactly how they wanted it, right? They explicitly talk about how they licensed the Lotus technology, and then had Lotus make the chassis to their specs. Tesla was very clear that it was *not* a Lotus chassis. "Tesla’s UK-based chassis engineering team designed the Roadster’s chassis using that technology." "1. Tesla re-engineered the main chassis rail extrusions, making them stronger and thereby allowing us to lower the doorsill height by 2 inches, drastically improving ingress/egress. (Elon and I are both more than 6’ tall, so improving ingress was a requirement!) 2. At the same time we changed the way the chassis rails bend just behind the seats. Lotus simply bends the rails. Tesla instead miter-cuts the rail, then bonds them together at the exact correct angle with a custom bracket. This solution works with the new extrusions to lower the sills, and reduces manufacturing complexity. 3. We eliminated the box section that surrounds the gas tank on the Elise. The Tesla Roadster achieves equivalent (actually slightly higher) stiffness with the structural box that encloses the battery pack 4. We designed a unique rear sub-frame, to accommodate a battery pack and electric drivetrain rather than a gas tank, engine, and exhaust system 5. We lengthened the Tesla Roadster’s wheelbase by 2 inches – rearward of the seats, giving us a tad more room for the battery pack, shifting the weight forward to keep the distribution reasonable, reducing ride choppiness, and giving the car a little more sophisticated look." Tesla put the battery exactly where they wanted it to be, and did so in order to optimize weight distribution and handling. http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/lotus-position
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Letstakeawalk: It was a modified Lotus chassis. And it was compromised. It's funny, I talked to one of the chief engineers on the Model S yesterday at the Tesla tech talk and he didn't get disagree when I mentioned the compromised design of the Roadster hurting the handling. But when I post it to the internet, Letstakeawalk thinks I need to be taken to task. Tesla did not get the battery pack where they wanted it in the Roadster. They did in the Model S. They never wanted a thousand pounds of weight above the centerline of the wheels and in the back. And that's why they don't have it that way now.
          Rotation
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          I didn't misunderstand you or what Clarkson said. I just gave a another, better example, both because Clarkson isn't an actual race driver and because he puts on this buffoon character that at times involves him exaggerating or saying things that aren't even true. You said you hadn't seen anyone complain about the handling before but now you were open to the point, so I gave you another example to look at besides the one you already saw.
        markrogo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        They kind of did. And they went back and got more from them by renegotiating the original agreement. What they didn't want to do was continue building the original Roadster while focusing on trying to get a new plant up and running for Model S and X. So this was always the plan, except that originally (and ideally), the S would already be shipping. Anyway, if they had it to do over again, trying to get another 1000 "gliders" as they are called might have made sense, but at the various discussions over the many years, neither Lotus nor Tesla would have proposed that. And to have renegotiated it at the last minute would've tied up tens of millions in capital that the company probably feels is better to have available right now.
      Nick From Montreal
      • 3 Years Ago
      Musk & the gang probably realizes that w/ all their cars capable of 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds, nobody will miss the Roadster. Both Model S & X are performance machines -- much like BMWs or Mustangs which can be used as daily drivers AND taken to the track once in a while. That's the thing purpose-built electric cars bring to the party -- they have a lot more space & performance than ICE cars (except for sustained top speed). So, why not use that space to carry more people? Ferrari & Lambo are dinosaurs anyway...
        porosavuporo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick From Montreal
        I bet that you have never driven much anything else but an average sedan, otherwise you would understand the difference of driving a Miata or a Cayenne, both getting similar 0-60 times depending on exact model and spec.
      JeremyD
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love the direction Tesla is going... big fan. I also like how they aren't artificially limiting their cars.
      Grendal
      • 3 Years Ago
      @Marco I would love to own a Volt or a Leaf. But they don't sell the Leaf in New Mexico yet (The Volt just arrived 2 months ago) and in order to afford the Tesla (extravagent purchase) I want, I'll be saving up. The tax break is appealing and I'm hoping New Mexico starts putting something towards EVs and EREVs - so far nothing.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hopefully by then, costs (battery and associated systems) will have dropped sufficiently to make up for the loss of tax credits.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is great news. I think a lower-priced vehicle should be a much more high priority item than another roadster. I wonder if they are feeling some pressure to deliver a mainstream vehicle and thus are moving up the target date for their Gen 3 effort? They need mass manufacturing scales to get cost reductions. However, they will also need to keep the higher-end vehicles like the Model S and X around to collect higher profit margins.
      Smith Jim
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's an enormous task for a small start-up company to finance, mass-produce, market, sell and service a highway capable, street-legal passenger vehicle that is compliant with all environmental and safety regulations. Many small companies have successfully produced limited production, high end, high profit sports cars. Tesla's strategy has always been to start off with a high end, high profit car and gradually migrate toward mass production of a more affordable car. The Model S and Model X are stepping stones toward that mass production vehicle. To spend a lot of money and human resources to design a new Roadster would take away resources for producing the mass market car. It would be a step backward.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        @Smith Jim I think strategically that you're right. It makes more sense to continue the forward momentum and build the mass market vehicle before a new, low volume, roadster. The idea in business growth is to appeal to more and more customers. An expensive Roadster with a limited customer base should be built from a money making mass produced platform. They've already said the Roadster will be built from the smaller Gen III skateboard battery pack. When they do get around to that Roadster, it's going to be a monster. I'm now guessing 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. Based on the direction they're going I'd guess it will be All Wheel Drive like the Model X. They're going to want a car that would make Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear look like fools and beat any of their 1/2 million dollar supercars around the Top Gear track. The price point will be $60-$100K. And maybe falcon doors! ;)
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Smith Jim I believe Tesla is positioned as a premium EV maker, and I doubt its goal is to be what VW is to ICE cars. Having a sportcar in its line-up is just as necessary as the SLR is to Mercedes, even though it won't make as much money as the Model S / X.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tesla will go bust long before any of these cars are produced. At best we'll see a handful of the Model S cars produced. They currently make no cars at all.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        And you base your opinion on what? Hot air? Considering they are a publicly traded company that has open books to their investors you are spouting nonsense.
        Actionable Mango
        • 3 Years Ago
        Toyota has invested $50 million in Tesla stock. Presumably then Toyota knows something about making cars profitably and believes that Tesla can do so as well. Tesla made and sold all of their Roadsters. They sold out of their Model S. Tesla is also making powertrains for Toyota RAV4 EV, Mercedes A-Class, and Smart. These deals are worth over $100 million, and help bring in regular money over time. Personally, I don't know if Tesla will succeed or fail. My guess is that the mass-produced BlueStar will be their true test and that the company will succeed if the Bluestar succeeds, and likewise will fail if Bluestar fails to sell (or if they can't get to Bluestar in the first place). Fisker on the other hand, I'm worried about them.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Tesla sold a handful of Roadsters ( a couple of thousand). As I say they are a car manufacturer that currently produces zero cars. All I'm saying is I'll believe it when I see it. The fact that Toyota invested doesn't mean that much, they have to believe there is some kind of future for the car. Warren Buffett also invested large sums of money into BYD with a specific hope that their electric car would sell in large numbers. Both Toyota and Warren buffett have failed to adjust to the new economic climate and reality of peak oil. These overly complex, expensive toys are a distraction.
          Grendal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          @Legless You started with "They are doomed to fail!" and now you're at "I'll believe it when I see it!" Why? What evidence do you have to justify your statement? The fact they aren't making cars at the moment? That's because they sold out of the old roadster gliders. They are gearing up the first production vehicle of the Model S. That comes out in June/July time frame and they are completely sold out for this years worth of cars and have orders for a couple thousand in 2013 also. That's roughly 560 million dollars worth of cars pre-sold. They've got a boatload of Alphas and Betas on the road and customers have had test drives in them. Every indication says they are on time or even running ahead of schedule. What information do you have that contradicts this very public information?
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      It sounds like a good plan. I will be interested in what Tesla can do for a budget car with great aerodynamics and the battery type they use.
      marcopolo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think Elon Musk and many ABG readers may define the term "affordable" very differently ! Automobile manufacture and marketing, (EV or ICE) is very high overhead, low profit, capital intensive, risky business. The most difficult area to secure a profitable return on capital investment is the crowded high volume, low priced, mass produced market sector. With the Tesla 'S' in the process of being launched, and plans for the model X well advanced, Tesla is taking a big gamble announcing a major model expansion within the next 3 years. Unlike conventional car makers, Tesla lacks a range of established profitable conventional vehicles to spread the risk across a wide range of established international markets. Tesla shareholders, must start to wonder if Elon Musk isn't stretching resources too thinly without a formal alliance with Toyota or similar automotive heavyweight Still, if anyone can accomplish the enormous task facing Tesla, it will be the redoubtable Mr Musk!
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        "Elon Musk and many ABG readers may define the term "affordable" very differently !" Probably true. But even if he just gets down into 40s or high 30s, it is progress. EVs will always cost more than gas cars because a gas tank is just a big empty steel container whereas a battery is a complex combination of anode material, cathode material, electrolyte, monitoring system, thermal system, etc. Even if an electric motor & controller are less than an ICE system, the different between a gas tank and a battery is so great. People need to not think they'll ever cost the same.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Spec I agree entirely. Although in time to come, hopefully better battery technology will close the gap, and the cost (and availability) of what goes in that big empty cylinder a bigger part of the cost equation:)
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        You just know that moving into the mass market has Big Oil worried when their advocates start to spread the fud about Tesla's plans. If only those shareholders could be made to see the enormous risks they are taking by sticking with Tesla right?
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          "supporting the continuing use of Oil's most toxic product, Bunker Oil . You admit you don't own, and wouldn't buy an EV (or even a Hybrid) "; where do you get this from? There is a reason you never back up anything you say on this forum isn't there: most of it you just make up as you go along. Others on this forum have noticed that and you have been exposed as a liar many times. The quote above is just another thread in the web of lies you have spun around yourself on this forum, the lies you use to gain credibility for the "big oil is your best friend" message you try to peddle on this and other forums under the guise of EV advocacy. In all those thousands of lengthy posts; talk about wasting your life...
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          It looks like the EV Spanish Inquisition is back! Marco, EV's are NOT the only form of green cars. Your attempts to become the EV Police and attempt to silence the opinions of everyone else unless they meet your self-imposed EV standards is a petty and childish game you are playing. Your self-righteous claim that any has to own and promote EV's in order to comment on a green car website just makes you closed-minded and ignorant.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          @electronx16 "; where do you get this from?" YOU! i am quoting from your own posts! But, I would be delighted for you to prove me wrong! But to be fair, and not wishing to just cheerypick form your posts, here's your chance! maybe I missed one... Cite me one post committing your active support for the abolition of Bunker Oil ? Cite me one post describing your purchase of an EV, of any description?
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          PR: I don't think "marcopolo"is really supportive of EV's nor do I believe for a second he owns one or any of the other unsubstantiated claims he makes about himself while remaining anonymous. It's just a routine he uses to gain some credibility on this forum for his real message: Big Oil is your best friend; people questioning corporate behaviour are crazy extremists. His subtle undermining of Tesla here while hypocritical claiming to be concerned is once again indicative for his real agenda. What I can't figure out is whether he works for some Big Oil PR agency or he is just the most obsessed troll I ever came across on forums like this. His slick tactics indicate the former, but yelling "Big Oil is the best" on an alt car forum and his petty tendency for name calling is of course typical troll behaviour.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          @electronx16 Let's see, the last time I heard from you were supporting the continuing use of Oil's most toxic product, Bunker Oil . You admit you don't own, and wouldn't buy an EV (or even a Hybrid). I on the other hand, actively campaign for EV adoption and the total abolition of a significant source of Oil company international revenue! (not the sort of activity that endears me to oil companies! ) I have never read a single constructive or positive comment from you. Nor am I alone in my concern that the most successful and innovative EV maker may overstretch it's capacity. Now, go do yourself a favour, go and buy an Leaf , Tesla, iMev, Volt or any other EV. Ask EVsuperhero if his EV enthusiast mates can sell you a conversion EV. Or, if that's beyond your budget, buy a 2 wheel EV! Living in the US, you are really fortunate,since there are several really good 2 wheel makes from which you can make your selection. For instance you can choose to purchase an excellent, US produced, very affordable, EV Maxi-Scooter produced by Current Motors of Ann Arbour MI. (Tell John Harding you argue with me, and he's sure to look after you ! ;) . Even, build your own! But do something positive, rather than waste your life, inventing strange conspiracy theories about others!
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          @PR Ah ha, as usual PR bustles up sanctimoniously to add his little bit of spite. I do not attempt to impose my version of anything, I simply responded to a highly personal attack by challenging the hypocrisy of the attacker, with the evidence of his own words. [quote] EV's are NOT the only form of green cars. [/quote] Maybe not, but currently they are the only renewable energy car's commercially available! FCV may have a future, as could biofuels. However neither vehicle has yet proved commercially viable on a volume scale. Not buying an EV because some future technology maybe developed while loudly condemning others, is just hypocrisy. Nor do I think that anyone has to own an EV or even own a car to comment of ABG. However, if you want to self-righteously abuse others for not supporting EV technology, you should practise what you preach!
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is definitely good news. The Gen 3 will push down Leaf and other EV prices down by pushing from above. That's going to help everyone in the EV market. Just to set expectations correctly, "affordable" means like how a BMW 1-Series or 3-Series is affordable compared to a 5-Series or 7-Series (Model S) or a Z8 (original Roadster). If anyone is thinking Mini Cooper kind of affordability, or Kia affordability, it's going to be a few more years.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        My opinion is based on my innate pessimism. I suspect nonetheess that I will be proved right. I hope not though.
          Grendal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @legless Well, being pessimistic is not a very healthy place to be. So don't invest in Tesla, but don't hope for their failure. Tesla is doing a very good thing. Creating a new, innovative product and giving the public more choices while employing a lot of people is definitely something to root for. They've got a hard battle to fight by changing the way people think about cars. But it's a worthy fight and I hope they win.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        My opinion is based on my innate pessimism. I suspect nontheless that I'll still be proved right. I hope not though.
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        @PR
        Nissan has indicated in the past that it will launch new battery tech (nickel based, like Tesla's)almost doubling the range by 2015. With Tesla hot on their tail they certainly have the incentive to do so if not earlier and I'm pretty sure that Tesla's plans have other carmakers worried about missing the boat too. With it's batteries retailing at $400/KWH at this point Tesla is surprisingly disruptive. I think with better cars for better prices entering the market 2015 is going to be the year that EV adoption will really gain momentum.
          Grendal
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          Nissan grabbed the low-end EV market early and all they need to do is be slightly better than their rivals (Fit EV, Focus EV, 500 EV, I-Miev, and Spark). Tesla needs to grab the market PR mentioned, the inexpensive luxury car market.
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