Tesla presentation slide from June, 2012 outlining 'Gen 3' platform variantsEnlarge Photo
Ever since it was founded, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has followed a ‘trickle-down’ business model, developing its technology in premium luxury cars before using that technology to develop ever more affordable models.
With its first car, the expensive yet sexy Roadster sports car no-longer made, its 2012 Model S full-size sedan now in production and plans to launch its Model X Crossover SUV next year, Tesla is already looking towards its first true, affordable electric car.
It, according to Tesla’s chief designer, Franz von Holzhausen (via autocar), will be a BMW 3-series competitor that the Californian automaker hopes to launch as early as 2015.
First promised earlier this year, the new car will be Tesla’s third mass-produced electric car, built on an all-new, smaller, third-generation platform that it will share with a compact crossover SUV.
But according to von Holzhausen, Tesla may build more than just a compact sedan and crossover SUV on the new platform.
“There are lots of ways in which we can exploit the platform,” von Holzhausen said. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pickup. That’s a market for which the torque of an electric motor would be ideally suited.”
Hinting that the target price of Tesla’s compact sedan would be around $30,000, von Holzhausen promised that “the third model will continue to drive down the price point as fast as possible.”
2012 Tesla Model S painting process
2012 Tesla Model S painting processEnlarge Photo
We’re glad to see Tesla planning for its future, but it’s worth remembering a few things.
First, while Tesla's Model S development was at breakneck speed, it remains to be determined whether there will be any quality issues of the kind most automakers experience with brand-new cars and platforms.
Second, the 2012 Model S is Tesla's first mass-produced car. To launch a 2015 affordable BMW 3-series beater, it has to continue producing the Model S, as well as the successful development and launch of the 2013 Model X.
In short, a lot can change in three years.