The all-electric Model 3 won’t be with us until late 2017 at the earliest, but Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has been discussing what comes after it.
In an interview with Norway’s Minister of Transport Ketil Solvik-Olsen in Oslo, Musk said a smaller, more affordable electric car is on the cards and that ‘almost everyone’ will be able to afford it.
“I’m super excited about being able to produce a car that most people can afford,” he said. “And there will be future cars that are even more affordable down the road but, with something like the Model 3, it’s designed such that roughly half of the people will be able to afford the car.”
“Then, with fourth generation and smaller cars, we’ll ultimately be in the position where almost everyone will be able to afford the car,” he added.
Knowing there will be a car after the Model 3 is hardly a revelation, but it’s reassuring to note the plan is still very much to make electric cars mainstream – a dream currently held back by the fact they are more expensive to buy than their petrol and diesel counterparts.
Musk goes on to mention the fact he may not be in charge of Tesla after the Model 3 hits retail. “I will never leave Tesla forever,” Musk said, “but I may not be CEO forever. Nobody should be CEO forever.”
Musk expressed “appreciation and thanks” for the Norway’s support of Tesla and the fact it leads in electric car adoption per capita. He described the country as the a “pioneer” and that everyone in Norway “should be incredibly proud of that fact”.
Norway is, of course, lucky in that it can create vast amounts of its power from hydro power, which Musk notes. “The people of Norway should feel very optimistic about the future as the world transitions away from hydrocarbons,” he said.
The “much more affordable Model 3” Musk is talking about will retail from US$35,000 and has a range of 218 miles. The UK price is unknown, but we would hazard a guess at around £35,000 before the government’s plug-in grant, putting it in BMW 3 Series territory.
Nearly 400,000 Model 3s have been ordered, Musk noted, each one secured with a refundable US$1,000 deposit. That’s US$14billion in cars (assuming all pre-orders follow through to a sale) – and many of those orders were made before the car was even unveiled.
The Model S is a truly great car and has won itself incredible levels of praise from the press and owners alike, but with a starting price of £58,300 before incentives, it will never be an option for most motorists.
As to why Tesla went with the Model S first, Musk said: “If [Tesla] could have produced a great affordable electric car on day one, that’s absolutely what we would have done.
“But the only way to success for a small company with limited resources was to start off with a low volume, high price car, go to a mid-price, mid-volume car and ultimately to an affordable high volume car.
“And that’s where we are getting to step three, which is vital to have a real effect on the world. So the Model 3, the affordable electric car, has really been the dream of Tesla from the beginning.”
The Model 3 may have gone down a storm, but there are concerns Tesla will struggle to meet demand given that the Model X sports utility vehicle has been delayed by a considerable time and production is at a considerably lower volume than its cheaper sibling will require.
The video is 36-minute beast, but Musk’s discussion of the challenges surrounding sustainable energy and fossil fuel subsidies are worth hearing if you are into that sort of thing. Plus he talks about dying on Mars, as you do.