Tesla might have abandoned its trademark to the 'Model E' name for its planned smaller electric sedan, but the car itself is still very much on Tesla's radar.

It's likely to be on buyers' radars too when it makes its expected debut in late 2016, priced to compete with conventional rivals like BMW's 3-Series and Audi's A4.

Speaking to Chris Porritt, Tesla's vice-president of engineering, Autocar reports the new Tesla will have "realistic" pricing next to its more established rivals.

That pricing does depend on how far Tesla can bring down the price of the car's lithium-ion batteries--though Porritt says the planned 'Gigafactory' will make battery manufacturing "more cost-effective".

To keep costs down, the new electric sedan will also be constructed from "appropriate materials".

The car will sit on its own platform--around 20 percent smaller than the Model S--and widespread use of steel is more likely than the Model S's all-aluminum construction. Autocar does suggest it's likely to use bonding and rivets in its construction though, in lieu of heavy welds.

MORE: Rumor: Long-Wheelbase Tesla Model S Coming Later This Year?

Tesla will play it relatively safe with the car's styling, too--Porritt is critical of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf that look too "different" and "eccentric".

"[People] want to have pride in their car's looks" he said, adding that Tesla's biggest advocates are its own customers.

At the moment, Porritt and his team are hard at work on Tesla's next model, the Model X crossover.

That car, unlike the smaller sedan, is based on the Model S--though the X keeps the concept car's "falcon wing" doors (designed for easy access to the rear seats) and uses an all-wheel drive layout as standard.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously stated that designing the Model X has been much tougher than the Model S--blaming his own perfectionism for delays to the Tesla SUV.

It's still likely to prove popular though: the Tesla Motors Club recently hinted that over 13,000 reservations had been made, based on their own user-supplied data.


Follow GreenCarReports on FacebookTwitter and Google+