Thursday, September 18

Tesla Mulling SUV At $20,000?

Elon Musk, Tesla's Guru mulls the next move: lots of tree-huggers will be very happy to hear of his EV plans!

AutoblogGreen brings exciting news today about the next step for the California startup that shook up the auto industry with its successful launch this Spring of the all electric Tesla Roadster. But since none of us can actually afford that, we wait with baited breath to hear of the possible next steps for the company. Here it is.

Elon Musk, Tesla's founder, who also funded the beginning of SolarCity was musing about a possible SUV, for possibly as little as $20,000, to be built in conjunction with a major automaker, or as he put it: "confident in being able to get to a $30,000 car, or perhaps a $20,000 car, in partnership with a major car company," which may or may not be Daimler: after all Tesla is supplying the batteries for Daimlers EV, the Smart.

Their next-generation WhiteStar, now called the Model-S, was to be around $50,000. Musk said:"Tesla's partnership with Daimler won't focus on its Model S". Tesla always said that they were planning on a $50,000 vehicle next after the Roadster, that would be able to get into the $20,000 - $30,000 range.

It appears that Musk is thinking ahead, talking about this third iteration.

Interestingly, he mentioned the possibility of swappable batteries, a la Better Place. This is not the mainstream direction being taken in the budding EV industry. FastCharge technologies, (where consumers could slow charge at home while they sleep, like with a cell phone, but have the option to go to the FastCharge station for a quick top-up) is favored by more companies, for instance Mitsubishi and Subaru for their iMiEV and R4e and Daimler, for their Smart.

The third charging option EV companies are considering is GM's innovative onboard recharging that they are pioneering with their Volt - and previously Tesla had floated that idea for their WhiteStar Model-S. So the meaning of this Better Place battery-swap idea is very interesting to consider: maybe GM is struggling with the recharger? Maybe last month's huge Smart FastCharging test in Berlin didn't pan out? In any totally new technology there will be gremlins. We may be surprised by which technology becomes the standard.

While AutoblogGreen rather sneers at this idea of an SUV as an EV, I found when I hosted the SFEVA booth at the Marin Ecofest last year, that it was, surprisingly, precisely the very eco minded moms with their wet sandy-footed tousle-haired kids returning from the beach with two giant wet dogs in the back that most adored the saved RAV4 SUV EV we had showing at our booth.

Via AutoblogGreen
Photo by Michael Kelley
For Matternetwork