Whether you spell the word "rumor" in the US or "rumour" in the UK, this one's a good one.

Tesla Motors is looking to make its upcoming version of its Roadster all-electric convertible faster than the original when it debuts to the public in 2017, UK's Auto Express "reports," citing unsorted rumors, or, er, rumors. The California-based automaker will also likely call the car – wait for it – the Model R.

Tesla produced about 2,500 Roadsters between 2008 and 2011. The model, made with Lotus parts, started at $109,000. Auto Express says the new version will share the same platform as the Model S sedan (out now) and the Model X crossover that is set to debut in 2014, but we think it is more likely to use Tesla's smaller, third-generation platform.

Last month, Tesla started a buyback program allowing Roaster owners to trade them in for credit against the purchase of a new Model S sedan.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      As the founder of software startup that flamed-out, I would respectfully offer my unsolicited view of Tesla’s current state and future strategy. 1) Product mix: Critical Success Factor – Use the experience of the Model S to: Build a smaller car- similar in size to BMW 3-series, costing 30 to 40K, scale down, reduce costs. First Tesla goes from the Roadster (+100K) to the Model S (100 to 60K) to an SUV platform. They are now even considering 4wd variants. This shows first signs of lack of product focus. This is why Southwest Airlines is so great - want 1st class goto another airline. 4wd on a regular vehicle is highly overrated. Adds at least 200 pounds, requires higher ground clearance which reduces aerodynamics and requires additional 20% power to drive all wheels. The complexity of the extra parts/systems also add at least 10% to the price and adds more things that can go wrong. In an electric vehicle, weight savings and power delivery efficiency are critical. These issues would penalize the range of a 4wd electric vehicle by at least 25%. Announced future plans to offer other versions of the model ‘S’? Great, however I want something smaller and less expensive – with at least the same the performance and range of the Model S. Personally at a cost of 40K with a 200 mile range. The ultimate affirmation of product and pricing strategy is whether it can scale down in the market. Tesla is lacking focus here. 2) Partner with a larger car company: Had the pleasure of visiting the Tesla store in DC. It was nice and made me feel good – that I was able to sit in the Model S and feel a like I was a part of this revitalized electric car movement; however, it left me with a feeling that this was only for rich early adopters and that I would never buy a car this way. Most of the population does not live within easy access of any of these planned stores and everyone buys their cars from regular dealerships. The cost to maintain these Tesla stores must be massive; ******* capital from more important areas like R&D and other marketing. Why not go with a phased deployment of leveraging partner dealer networks? For example, “Tesla Signature” networks at select Lexus/Toyota dealerships. This would allow Tesla to control the speed and scale of a GLOBAL dealer rollout without being encumbered by the heavy fixed costs of building-out physical locations. 3) Supply chain and manufacturing excellence: Finally, Tesla needs to develop a more flexible and cost effective strategy in manufacturing and supply chain. Perhaps they could do final assembly in California by more effectively sourcing and pricing components elsewhere. The same strategic partnership on the retail side could help Tesla to synchronize component platforms with a larger partner. Tesla’s “do-it-all” startup ethos is an entrepreneurial anachronism. It must be tempored by reality.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        Darned comment system ate my first response. I'll try again. 1. Product mix - Tesla's smaller car will come after the Model X. It will start at $30K, for the $40K you say is in your price rance you should be able to get an upgraded battery pack that will get you a realistic 200 mile range or more. 2. Partnering - It won't happen unless they are forced into it because of finances. Elon is trying to promote his vision. Bringing in someone elses vision is not what he wants to do. 3. Supply chain. Tesla wants to do everything in house. Outsourcing parts is what is causing delays now.
        Marcopolo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ David S I'm not sure I agree with much of your analysis, but i found it rational, interesting and thought provoking. Thanks for taking the time to post your observations on ABG.
        Tim W.
        • 2 Years Ago
        1) Don't confuse electric AWD with 4WD trucks ... like the motor and transmission are integrated into the rear axle, for AWD, the front motor and transmission assembly would be where the frunk is (there's plenty of room up front) and there's no mechanical linkage between the two. No higher ride height would be required. It would add a bit of weight, considering that it would need the extra motor and controller, but it would be *more* efficient not less, since it takes less energy to get mass moving with two motors than it does with one since there is more available torque at lower current. (where electrical losses are a function of current) When cruising one of the motors can be turned off completely, and there's more available regenerative braking power. 2) Tesla already laid out why they aren't doing the dealership model in a recent blog post: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/tesla-approach-distributing-and-servicing-cars basically personnel at existing dealerships are likely to know nothing about EVs, and even if they do know about EVs, there's no incentive to promote a vehicle that makes all their other cars look bad by comparison. If you want to actually sell the things, you need people that know what they're talking about, and are free to trash talk gasoline. 3) People look up to rich early adopters and want what they have. When the third platform is released, smaller, lighter, lower range, cheaper, people will still want it based on brand recognition. Like getting a BMW 318i because you can't afford the 735i but still want a bimmer. Conventional wisdom is fine for conventional products, but Tesla is striving to make unconventional products with exceptional appeal. I'll gladly go with the vision of someone that created successful startups in the most difficult industries to break into on earth. (banking, automotive, space) If you really want to buy a Tesla through a dealership, wait for some used ones to start hitting the market.
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      And you heard it here that Motor Trend included the Model S in their Car of the Year. Psst...It's going to win.
      Grendal
      • 2 Years Ago
      Let's see. Model S = Sedan Model X = Crossover or X-over and Model R = Roadster I find that hard to believe. /sarc
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Grendal
        Model E = Economy car? =)
          SublimeKnight
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Giza, I think the investors are just fine. Tesla's current market cap is $3.3B. Porsche is $9B, Suzuki is $10B, personally I like their chances of growing to the size of a Porsche.
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          It's going to be B for bankruptcy. I don't know how they do it but they manage to lose ever increasing amounts. It looks to me like they will be out of money again early next year and will need yet another cash infusion. At some point investors wont believe it.
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          I notice you didn't base your conclusion on any trends or business insight.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @raktmn
          Probably not. Elon already said it was the Model E and then had to do a retraction. He said he was just joking. Model S Model E Model X It's going to be something else like Model M for Mass Market Car or Mid-Sized Sedan.
      Greg
      • 2 Years Ago
      While a roadster would be awesome, if they could deliver a midsize or compact car similar to the Model S but priced in the $40k range, I would certainly look into buying it.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Greg
        That is the next car. Starting at $30K with similar looks but about 25% smaller. Should arrive in 2015 or 2016. The new Roadster will actually come after that car. They will both use the smaller Gen III platform.
      ferps
      • 2 Years Ago
      The flat packaging of Tesla's platform allows a lot of flexibility so that almost any kind of car can be built on the platform the Model S uses. Though it may be a bit heavy for a lightly sporty roadster, a larger cruiser with a folding hardtop could easily work on the existing platform.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ferps
        And my instincts also say it will look something like this: http://www.autoblog.com/2012/11/08/2013-aston-martin-v8-vantage-roadster-review-video/ It would, of course, look a little more Tesla-y.
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ferps
        The new Roadster should use the Gen III, smaller, platform. It will still be a lot larger car than the original Roadster. That's just my opinion - but it makes sense.
      purrpullberra
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the current naming convention should be stopped ASAP. Names. People, strangely, like names and using them. ModelS or E or X aren't as bad as MP4-12C but not much better. I know its harder than coming up with than modelR but Tesla should continue to do the right thing and continue to go against many current industry trends. Grendal: you think 2 platforms or 2 sizes of the same one? Why develop a new or even heavily revised platform if this one is already so competent? Isn't it more cost efficient to simply adjust the parts needed to shrink to the preferred size? Is it a distinction without a difference?
        Grendal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        The original roadster was a tiny sportscar. It's certainly possible they make a convertible sports sedan off the Model S platform (Gen II), but I don't think so. Or I suppose it's possible they go for broke and make a large Ferrari-Lambourghini sports car. But neither of those should be called a Roadster. I see it being based off their unseen Gen III platform with a sporty, fun, and smaller feel to it. It would still be larger than the current roadster. The smartest move for Tesla, in my opinion, is to keep the price point as low as possible (base of $60K) and have their top of the line performance version (at $110K+) blow away everything out there. The lower price point makes it accessible and competitive in a larger market like the 911 sells to. The Vantage Roadster seems like the right sort of size, shape, and look for the new Tesla Roadster. This car will still come after the mass market Gen III model which is why that platform will be thoroughly tested by the time it gets built. I don't see any reason not to make a convertible Model S touring sedan at some point, but it should come later. The smart business move is the one Elon and Tesla has talked about: Model S, Model X, then Gen III Mass Market car. The Gen III needs the $7500 tax credit to really knock it out of the park.
          bluepongo1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          A convertible modification would be expensive but easy with a carbon fiber retractable top; you wouldn't need much reinforcement to the underside due to the strong box around the horizontally mounted battery boxes on the S and X models. Loss in performance can easily be offset by increasing the motor HP ( rewinding and adding rare-earth magnets) . Marco your unnamed coach-builder doesn't know much about EV engineering. P.S. Elon Musk please get Grendal a Roadster for his tireless troll slaying in defense of truth and Tesla.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          bluepongo1 Thanks. That's very nice of you to say. I am certainly a Tesla aficionado. It is actually my small way of promoting efficient advanced technology vehicles. And my job allows me a lot of free time to comment while working. MTCOTYear finalists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SK3WYwGaR0 I'm telling you that Model S is going to win. No kidding.
          Grendal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          That's why I'd put a convertible Model S after the new Roadster (Model R). Here's my BS timeline for Tesla: 2012 Model S 2013 Model X - Gen III prototype shown with new platform 2014 Model S 2.0 and minor variation - Model R prototype shown 2015 Gen III sedan - Gen III CUV prototype 2016 Model R & Gen III CUV & Model S 3.0 - Convertible Model S? prototype That's an unbelievably ambitious timeline, I know. But I think that is a winning design strategy. It maximizes popularity of design and sales while maintaining their coolness and uniqueness of styles.
          Marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          @ Grendal I talked to a famous coach-builder about your idea of a convertible Model S. In his opinion a convertible might be possible, but at great cost, and the stiffening to avoid scuttle shake would make car so heavy as to be impractical in an EV. (not to mention the problems associated with a power roof).
        purrpullberra
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        This might also be no real difference but I thought a big , ModelS convertible should go more towards a Jaguar GT. Aston is too.... unapproachable for the intended Tesla customer base, IMO.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @purrpullberra
        You mean like the BMW 3 series, 5 series, and 6 series? Or the Audi A4, A5, A6? Or the Mercedes C class, E class, S class? Or the Acura TL, TSX, NSX? Or the Lexus IS, ES, GS? What do you mean people like names?
      bluepongo1
      • 2 Years Ago
      The G-Type variant was the first production run, more personal luxury options. The R- Type variant was the second production run, it had the magnetic suspension, and both had extra battery tech not found on the second half of the B- Type variants production run ( when Elon took over.) The R in this story implies that the lighter and better magnetic suspension will be standard rather than optional. Danny King please research the patents owned by Tesla Motors and you will find no connection to Lotus (A failing company ) .Tesla Motors owns all tech and patents involved in production which is why it won't go bankrupt despite all the losers looking for company in their uninspired lives.
      RC
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kudos to Tesla for consolidating their brand. Simplicity wins the day.
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