Tesla has big expansion plans, few details

Industry

Tesla Inc.’s stock price isn’t the only part of the business that’s growing. The electric vehicle maker continues to ramp up production of its Model Y crossover and has two plants — one in Germany and another in Texas — under construction. It plans to broaden its lineup with the Cybertruck pickup and a semitruck next year, and CEO Elon Musk says he wants to further expand the portfolio to potentially include a minivan and compact vehicle.

It’s a tall order for a company known for blown deadlines and launch problems, but the ambitious plans have won over Wall Street investors, who have made Tesla the most valuable automaker in the world, in spite of new EVs coming from rivals that are attempting to replicate its success. Whether Musk and Tesla can deliver on its objectives remains to be seen; much of the company’s future product plans are without firm deadlines and are largely revealed through podcast musings or Twitter proclamations.

Compact vehicle: Musk has discussed adding a compact vehicle that could handle tight roads in European cities, even suggesting it be engineered in Germany. He has said the vehicle could be priced around $25,000 and last week said it could launch in about three years.

Model 3: The Model 3 made it through what Musk called “production hell” and was reportedly the bestselling U.S. luxury car in the first quarter of 2020. While Tesla struggled to achieve its goal of a $35,000 Model 3, the vehicle continues to be a major draw for the Tesla brand. There’s no redesign planned for the sedan in the near future.

Model S: Tesla’s oldest sedan hasn’t been redesigned since it was introduced in 2012. That hasn’t stopped the automaker from adding some meaningful upgrades. The Model S received the honor of becoming the first EV to crack the 400-mile range goal through a software update this year. Tesla also has improved performance variants. A Plaid performance variant will be available in late 2021. No major changes are expected before 2024, when the Model S could be redesigned.

Roadster: Tesla announced plans in 2017 for a new Roadster that would start at $200,000. After initially promising it late this year, Musk said it has taken a back seat to other projects, including construction of the Berlin Gigafactory and planned production of the Cybertruck. He still hasn’t set a firm time frame for a vehicle that he says will lay a “hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” but it’s not likely before 2022. “Roadster is kind of like dessert,” Musk said this year on a podcast with celebrity Joe Rogan. “We gotta get the meat and potatoes and greens and stuff.”

Model Y: Musk has called the crossover Tesla’s most important vehicle and said it eventually could outsell all other models combined. Sales got off to a strong start this year, despite the pandemic, according to Tesla data. Third-party analysts have praised the Model Y for a number of innovations they say make it the most advanced EV on the market, including its heating and cooling system. The Model Y is powered by a 75-kilowatt-hour battery that is largely similar to the Model 3 battery. It can get up to 316 miles of range, according to EPA estimates.

Model X: With the focus on its smaller crossover sibling and the hype surrounding the Cybertruck, the Model X has taken a back seat in Tesla’s lineup. Musk, however, has promised on Twitter that an over-the-air software update would soon upgrade its air suspension, which will “improve performance, handling and ride comfort.” It could be until at least 2024 before there is a redesign.

Minivan: Tesla might make a minivan. At some point. Maybe. At least that’s what Musk told Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein this summer, echoing similar comments he made on the company’s earnings call in January. While he hasn’t offered a time frame, a van likely wouldn’t happen before the Cybertruck, Roadster or the semitruck. Musk said he wants to build it if only for looks. “One thing would be, can you make a minivan that looks good? Nobody’s ever done that,” he said.

Cybertruck: It looks like nothing else on the market, and that’s just what Musk wants. Tesla is marketing it as a “better” truck than a Ford F-150 while being faster than a Porsche 911. The Cybertruck, scheduled to go on sale in late 2021, is expected to have a towing capacity of up to 7,500 pounds and a range of more than 250 miles. The Cybertruck will be assembled at the plant Tesla is building outside Austin, Texas. Officials have said the vehicle is “very likely” to be classified as a medium-duty truck. The automaker has received more than 500,000 preorders, Musk says, although he’s left open the possibility of scrapping the vehicle’s bold design for a “normal truck” if sales flop.

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