Tesla may have made major inroads with its Model S, and it's poised to enter new territory when it finally starts selling its Model X, an iconoclastic gullwing crossover. Neither of those may be as important as the model thereafter, which is expected to be its make-or-break sedan. It won't be called the Model E (thanks a lot, Ford), but the BMW 3 Series-challenging EV will be the litmus test that will determine if Tesla's EV future is palatable to the masses.

Part of that means proving that Tesla can be an affordable alternative to conventional internal-combustion-powered vehicles. According to the company's VP of engineering, Chris Porritt, the new sedan will do just that, thanks in no small part to the company's forthcoming gigafactory battery operations. But beyond that project, there are other things about this new EV that will make it a more alluring option to the average consumer.

Porritt mentioned "appropriate materials," to the UK's Autocar, which is likely another way of saying it's ditching the aluminum-intensive architecture of its big brother.

"I expect there will be very little carryover [with the Model S]. We've got to be cost-effective. We can't use aluminum for all the [small car's] components," Porritt told Autocar. This, along with the fact that the Model E (or whatever it ends up begin called) is 20-percent smaller and will probably be lighter for it, should go a long way towards moving the starting price away from Model S territory and into 3 Series territory.


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  • 166 Comments
      thecommentator2013
      • 10 Months Ago
      Give it a 250 miles range, superfastcharging, make it look GOOD (like the Model S) and useful and I'm in for it. Unless GM will come up with a Volt Gen2 or Gen3 by that time. ICE-only car? Nope. I'm done with them.
        HVH20
        • 10 Months Ago
        @thecommentator2013
        GM's Gen2 Volt will be in the market before it. Their true competitor "200+ mile EV" will also beat them to market. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
          SublimeKnight
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          Grendal, Nissan has hinted that in 2016 we'll see an Infiniti EV using a new battery chemistry on a new chassis, a year before they hit the LEAF. I don't know if they'll hit the Model E price point, but they may hit the range.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          They showed an Infiniti EV over 2 years ago. When it comes to the major manufacturers, I'll believe it when I see it. That said, I certainly hope they do something.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          Grendal: Tesla already has a 200 mile EV sedan.
          SteveG
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          Yeah, but do you want to only drive your car to the dealer for recalls?
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          I'd be willing to bet that it doesn't happen. Tesla will have a 200 mile EV sedan before any other competitor.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          Does GM even have a name for this 200+ mile EV?
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          I say Nissan has the best chance to compete with Tesla's gen 3 car. Pity Nissan doesn't come out with it now instead of waiting for Tesla.
          Rotation
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          I would love for GM to announce a true competitor "200+ mile EV" or even 150+ mile EV before Tesla can get this to market. But I'm not counting on it.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @HVH20
          I could see Nissan doing a 160 mile EV by doubling their current battery pack. They just don't seem interested in trying, which is weird.
        Spec
        • 10 Months Ago
        @thecommentator2013
        I'll settle for 200 mile range, looks good like Model S, seats at least 4, supercharger-capable, and a $40K price range. Don't care if it uses steel, lacks some bells & whistles, etc.
          Grendal
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Spec
          It will seat 5. I'd bet on it. Supercharging on the base model will cost extra just like the Model S, unless Elon makes it one of his "things."
      Drizzy
      • 10 Months Ago
      Tesla has always said they're aiming for $35k. A BMW 320i is just barely under that, while all the other 3 series BMW's start above it [if you include destination] & the M3 starts at $62k... I agree that not everyone can afford a BMW 3series, [myself included if I spec'd it the way I wanted] however, it is the benchmark 4door sedan of the automotive industry. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Tesla would set their sites on such a globally visible car... Yeah, I said sedan, what?! I have a feeling Tesla will too... That said, I hope they extend the platform and make convertible and coupe body styles as well.
        Drizzy
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Drizzy
        To me the most relevant price question is: Will it start at $35k with or without the federal rebate? I'm betting 'with' at the beginning... meaning it will pretty much be the same price as the Volt...
          ElectricAvenue
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Drizzy
          There is no way the car is going to be $35K. Not within five years. Remember the original plan for the Model S to be $50K after rebate, which means almost $60K. And they couldn't reach that. I am a fan of Tesla and a Model S owner, and will be happy to be proven wrong (as it will mean more mass market adoption of EVs), but... I really can't see how they're going to get the price that low.
      Chris O.
      • 10 Months Ago
      I don't think that the price needs to be accesible to EVERYONE, since that's not the way that cars work now, either. If they can get the price in the range of a Volt, then I think that's probably good enough. From there, I would expect that future price reductions would come from getting economies of scale going (which isn't something that they've been able (or tried) to do with Model S sales quantities).
        purrpullberra
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Chris O.
        And purchase price is only part of the equation. It's so cheap to fuel that the overall cost of ownership is lower still.
      Ryan
      • 10 Months Ago
      The raw materials shouldn't be much more expensive. The welding could be what is more difficult. But, I don't see why they would want to use anything other than Aluminum. The range issue would be a bigger deal if the car weighs a few hundred pounds more. Push to get nationwide recycling with bottle deposits like Michigan to recycle more and bring costs down.
      JB
      • 10 Months Ago
      Honestly, I'm hopping for a hatch.
        Spec
        • 10 Months Ago
        @JB
        Why not? The Model S is a hatch.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @JB
        Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids. The Gen III will be a hatch in the same way the Model S is a hatch.
      david.bergman1
      • 10 Months Ago
      Considering that it is being built as a 3-series competitor it should cost somewhere in the range of the 3-series Active Hybrid. That's a given.
      RocketRed
      • 10 Months Ago
      I suspect that using steel will not matter much. Without an ICE, the largest single, nonnegotiable source of mass in the car is the batteries, and those are not going to get any lighter any time soon. But overall, I think the range will be disappointing to many who will want it to be better than the Model S. Counterintuitively, as a general matter, with a pure EV, you get better performance with a bigger platform, because you can have more batteries in there, and then carry and store that mass in a more acceptable configuration with better vehicle dynamics. More batteries to other-stuff ratio means better performance. Unlike with an ICE, the only way to get more range (and usuable power) from an EV is to increase the mass/volume of batteries.
        Joeviocoe
        • 10 Months Ago
        @RocketRed
        --"the batteries, and those are not going to get any lighter any time soon" They've been getting steadily lighter every few years. --"I think the range will be disappointing to many who will want it to be better than the Model S." Who in their right minds had THAT expectation? At 200 miles, it will still be FAR from "disappointing".... as it would be the best range in its class, by far.
          Spec
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          If a drive is more than 4 hours or so, I generally get a plane ticket instead. (Although I'd like the option for a hyperloop ticket. Or high-speed rail.)
          edward.stallings
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          It is disappointing to anyone who wants a car that can drive more than an hour and a half from home on the highway and make it back without a tow truck. I usually drive about 75 - 80 mph on the highway. At those speeds the range would decrease, so we are really talking about being on an 80 mile leash, or about an hour away limit. That is ridiculous.
      JB
      • 10 Months Ago
      I hope it has a big truck. Because I'm going to fit my bike it.
        Spec
        • 10 Months Ago
        @JB
        Get a rack.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Spec
          He misquoted a line from "40 yr Old Virgin". Where he says, "I hope you got a big trunk, cuz I'm putting my bike in it!" Of course the girl he was talking to thought it was some kind of innuendo.
      Bob Nunemaker
      • 9 Months Ago

      How about a Miata type version?  Then it'll be really light and yet ultra-responsive and low to the ground so great handling.

      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm taking a picture of the first douchebag who steps out of a Model X with gulf doors.
        methos1999
        • 10 Months Ago
        gulf doors? don't you mean gull wing doors - you sound like the douchebag here. And what kind of car do you drive that makes you so cool?
          Spec
          • 10 Months Ago
          @methos1999
          Falcon wing doors actually. (The difference is the hinge.)
          mikoprivat
          • 10 Months Ago
          @methos1999
          he drives a toyota tercell...very COOL dood
      Carguy
      • 10 Months Ago
      If this thing can't tow my mythical boat to my mythical lake house 400 miles away it will never sell.
        Jesse Gurr
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Carguy
        "...mythical boat to my mythical lake house..." mythical boat of mythical proportions to my mythical lake house. That sounds better.
        Grendal
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Carguy
        http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/n5dnf3/an-energy-independent-future Sums it up nicely.
          Carguy
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          edward.sallings My point is one I have made on several EV blog posts - I don't know why its only EV's that have this amazingly high bar to live up to. Nobody says the Silverado is a horrible truck because it doesn't get the same mileage of Prius but somehow an EV needs to be lightning fast, unlimited trunk capacity, off road capability.... I think for most (not all) two car households that an EV (of PHEV) could work. Facts are that most Americans drive around 40 miles a day on paved roads.
          edward.stallings
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          How could you watch that whole thing? One minute and I was through being bored. Carguy makes a statement and you say some comedy bit sums it up? His statement does not need summing up. He may not be 100% right about "never sell", but the range thing is the elephant in the room when it comes to energy for transportation. By burning hydrocarbon fuel, even though the IC engine is about 1/3 the efficiency of an electric motor, the energy storage component is a fraction of the weight of the EV's because the IC engine can get most of the fuel reactant from the atmosphere. When rechargable batteries can use air (like an aluminum air battery - not rechargable), then maybe we will see the range for electrics come up to par. Maybe some kind of advanced capacitor technology will help. Thing is, we are not there yet.
        Lynchenstein
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Carguy
        You just need the mythical supercharging station (maybe two) in between, and you're set.
      danfred311
      • 10 Months Ago
      Hmm, doesn't bode well for the weight. Seems they still don't understand how offensively terrible the weight of Model S is. And if they still burn 100watt constantly when the car is off I'll have to declare both Elon Musk and J B Straubel morons. Epic fail twice in a row is plenty. A third time would be chronic facepalm territory. Statue time. Let's see if they mess up the aerodynamics as well. I fear a 1700kg weight which will be expensive in batteries as usual and jeopardize the price. As usual. It would be the 3rd time they failed substantially to meet the target price. But hey, it has worked for them so far, albeit very close to death several times. They should make a new roadster and price it at 30 or 25. That would raise some eye brows.
        RyanC
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        I thought of many spiteful things to say to you but will stick by the old adage "if you ain't got nothin' nice to say, don't say nothin' at all".... 'Cept that I'm gonna say " please stop with your ignorant ramblings and get off the soapbox " When you build the perfect automobile, and give it away for free to all people of the world, please make sure I am first in line to take delivery.
          danfred311
          • 10 Months Ago
          @RyanC
          because you will be the most deserving? I'm a genius, buddy. The ignorant rambling one here is you.
        SublimeKnight
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        Joeviocoe Killer feature addition for ACE: ignore list. I can even think of a poster to pre-populate it with, as an example of how it works.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          :) Okay... I'll put an ignore feature next update.
          Joeviocoe
          • 10 Months Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          To Ignore a specific post... and Ignore all from a specific user... is fairly easy to implement.
        Spec
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        Dan and his continued belief in magically cheap battery prices and magically cheap light-weight but strong material prices. Tesla designs for the real world, not the magical Dan world. The real world has economic limits.
          danfred311
          • 10 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Hasn't Elon said they are going for 150$/kWh battery prices? so how are my prices magical? nitwit. If I intelligently point out what the current battery price is there are legions of idiots like you who attack me despite knowing nothing about battery prices. But when Martin Eberhard or Elon Musk confirms my prices then oddly you are quite silent.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        The batteries will be so cheap who cares about the weight!
          JB
          • 10 Months Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Weight is the most important variable for the mobility of the car. More weight = more batteries.
        19nomad56
        • 10 Months Ago
        @danfred311
        Yes 4650 pounds is hefty, but a lot of the weight is in the battery pack which of course is mounted low. Our previous car was a 335is convertible, that was just over 4000 pounds. And that was for a tiny convertible that only sat 4 with a tiny trunk. The Model S seats 5 (or 7), has two large trunks, and does the same 0-60 sprint in 5.2 seconds. I for one would be very interested in a cheaper, small sedan.
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