It seems increasingly likely that Tesla is prepared to unveil its mainstream $35-40k electric car at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The new design, informally dubbed Model E (based on Tesla trademark application for the “Model E” designation ), is perceived as the car which will transform Tesla from a company with something of a celebrity status into one that is more of a household brand. It could be ready for delivery by 2016 or 2017 and could possibly be ready for North American sales by the end of 2015.
In order to have mass appeal, Tesla engineers aim to create a vehicle with many styling cues taken from the wildly popular Model S, but about 20% smaller, and capable of a providing a 200-mile range from a single charge. Much industry speculation is swirling about focusing on Tesla’s capabilities for delivering such a vehicle which is intended to compete with compact luxury brands such as the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Acura TLX, Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS. An artist’s rendering (from RM.Design) depicts a model similar to the Model S up front paired with a sports compact rear end.
The long term success of Tesla Motors may lay with the fate of the Model E. Elon Musk revealed his strategy in his August, 2, 2006 blog post entitled The Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan (just between you and me): “The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.”