Subcompact Tesla Model C Coming In 2018?

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 38

Tesla Model C Rendering

Tesla Model C Rendering

German auto magazine AutoBild is reporting that Tesla Motors will launch a subcompact city EV called the Tesla Model C in 2018.

We however are going to go with a pretty strong “not gonna happen” on that piece of speculation.

The Model C is the name AutoBild puts on this subcompact electric city car.  It’s not a name confirmed by Tesla.  In fact, Tesla Europe declined to comment on this subcompact EV when AutoBild tried to get confirmation.

Instead, AutoBild says the Model C has been confirmed by an “anonymous company insider.”

If you follow Tesla, then it’s immediately apparently that this Model C strays too far from the automaker’s mission of delivering sporty, stylish EVs with long-range cruising abilities.  That and they already have the Model 3 filling most of that roll – and taking up all of their time and resources to get out in 2017.

Despite the “company insider” supposedly confirming the Model C, we’re going to say it’s not coming.  Certainly not by 2018.  Perhaps never.  But is the idea even a sound one for Tesla to pursue?  The competition is tough at the very low end for even the most established of automakers, and margins are certainly very thin.

Source: AutoBild

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38 responses to "Subcompact Tesla Model C Coming In 2018?"

  1. Anon says:

    Ewwww… It’s the Tesla-E Up!

    At least let the poor thing have the dignity of a full nose cone! 😉

    1. offib says:

      No nose cone? Oh hell, that’s not an e-Up!, that’s a Skoda, a bloody Skoda Citigo! How dare they!

  2. Jouni Valkonen says:

    Time line is reasonable. Tesla is no longer a small start-up company that can focus on single project at a time. But very aggressively growing behemoth that is chasing BMW and Daimler as leading high profile automanufacturer.

    Certainly Tesla needs a Mercedes B Class equivalent compact electric car. However my personal opinion is that supposed “Model C” is not a subcompact but normal hatchback four door compact car that is the best selling car form factor in Europe. I think that there is terminological issues as Compact/Subcompact car has different meaning in different continents. There is absolutely zero probability that Tesla is pursuing a Chevy Spark like compliance car in a foreseeable future!

    Model C could be a product that Tesla’s European factory will start producing. I would estimate that Tesla’s european factory starts production around 2018 so timeline for 2017 — one year after Model III — is not unreasonable.

    1. Anon says:

      I agree that there is a compelling case to make a city car, but I fully expect Tesla to do it “their way”, and redefine that segment of the industry, just like they did with Model S and X.

      There is no way Tesla is going to copy a VW UP and slap a Tesla-like snoot on it, and call it a day. I look forward to seeing the falcon wing doors appear on other models, now that they’ve got them figured out.

    2. evnow says:

      Noway. Tesla is going to build the first 3 cars (4 if you count Roadster) – one at a time. Once they all land well, they may start making multiple cars. Not until then. Esp. Model 3 is so crucial for Tesla – they need all hands on deck for that one.

  3. alohart says:

    I’d be a potential customer for a subcompact Tesla. I do not need nor do I want to drive a car the size of the Model III. Give me the lightest, 4-door, 4-passenger hatchback possible with 100 miles of real range. My i-MiEV comes close, but I could use a bit more range occasionally. I don’t want to drag around hundreds of pounds of battery pack that would provide range that I do not need.

  4. Cavaron says:

    Keep in mind: AutoBild is the German magazine-equivalent to the British TV-show Top Gear.

  5. kdawg says:

    Hare are 2 more sketches for the Tesla Model C (one even by a Tesla intern).

    http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac211/kdawg2011/TeslaModelC2_zps90aa1728.jpg

    1. Surya says:

      Both of those look better than the AutoBild one… and closer to what I expect Tesla to make.

  6. Priusmaniac says:

    This looks as frightening as the Alien movie monster. It is exactly the opposite of the Tesla philosophy of beautiful ample and crash secure cars that show EV’s can be desirable. This is a copy of all the EV mistakes that already abound on the market. Vehicles with no appeal like the Think, the E-up, the Mia and others. It is pulling people away from EV’s instead of toward EV’s. Actually I don’t believe this would be on Tesla’s agenda in 2018 or even latter on.

  7. Surya says:

    If Tesla wants to take a big part of the European market, they will need a car in this segment. And I sure hope they’ll make one sooner rather than later, because the Model III is too big for me. I want compact 3 door hatchback to replace my Renault ZOE in a couple of years, and I’d prefer it to be made by Tesla.
    But 2018 seems optimistic.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      Tesla will never produce suicide ready cars that have no front and rear crumpel zones. This kind of vehicle is inherently unsafe and would prevent many deaths on the road if made illegal.

      1. Surya says:

        Huh? What? Are you saying B class cars are by definition unsafe?
        By the way, these cars are popular. People will buy and drive them. If Tesla wants market share, they will need smaller cars.

  8. David Murray says:

    Well, I could see Tesla producing a compact car. But somehow I figure it would look at LOT better than what is represented in this photo.

  9. Boris says:

    I believe there will be a Model C hopefully before 2020. The vehicle that would make the most sense is I believe the size of VW Golf/Golf Wagon for Europe and Jetta for the US and China. It would start with a 40kwh battery and a price of $25K. Would Elon want to create a car with only 140 mile range, not sure…

    1. Aas says:

      By then (2020) there will be superchargers “at every corner” so 140miles is more than enough. (At least for most european buyers.)

      1. Boris says:

        I agree with you, for Europe city driving, this would make perfect sense. Actually on top, I think a Tesla Model B (positioned against Mini) would also make sense with perhaps a battery pack of 30kwh with range of 120 miles. This would probably have to sell for 18K Euros range, I believe it would take London and Paris by storm…

  10. Aaron says:

    I don’t think Tesla would make something so homely. This would run counter to Elon’s idea that electric vehicles shouldn’t be boring. This includes styling.

  11. Dude says:

    I’m sure Tesla is toying internally with different ideas, that doesn’t mean it’s really going to happen any time soon. Let’s get the model 3 out the door first.

  12. Andrei says:

    I would love a hot hatchback Tesla Model C with a range of 150 miles. it could even be a hybrid battery 50 miles every day and an additional 100 miles when I need it.

    1. Joshua Burstyn says:

      I appreciate Tesla more than most, but you’re describing the already available BMW i3 w/REx. 🙂

      1. Andrei says:

        BMW i3 REx needs gas … and it does not cost like a subcompact car.

  13. Joshua Burstyn says:

    Agreed, dude. This is not really in line with Tesla’s philosophy though and doesn’t appear to fit the company DNA but hey, if they can make it work and it sells more BEVs so much the better.

  14. Lou Grinzo says:

    Please keep in mind that all companies above a certain size always have competing visions internally about their path forward, what kinds of products to develop and market, etc. I have no doubt that Tesla has grown enough to have a variety of opinions about what they “should” be doing. (When I worked for a huge tech. company everyone here has heard of, there was no end of internal debate about products, and I saw a few cases where entire product lines got very far into development before being killed off.)

    Personally, I think it would be a major mistake for Tesla to take too narrow a view of what kinds of cars they should design, build, and market. A Tesla-esque city car seems to me to be a perfect match for their vision of electrifying transportation, coupled with the current/expected price trajectory of batteries. But I would not expect to see it on the market before 2018 simply because of economics and those darned battery prices that aren’t falling as swiftly as we’d prefer.

  15. Ocean Railroader says:

    I think a small Tesla car would work out to give the Mitsubishi i-miev and the Smart Car some competition. As for batteries it could easily have a 120 to 200 mile range in that Tesla batteries have double the power of i-miev batteries. Not to mention a 200 mile city EV would turn the whole low range industry on it’s head.

    1. Murrysville EV says:

      The i-MiEV doesn’t need competition; it already doesn’t sell.

      1. Jouni Valkonen says:

        +1

        Indeed, what needs competition is Volkswagen Golf. Or small Mercedes or Audi.

  16. ffbj says:

    I think Tesla wants a competitive car in every segment including subcompact and trucks, but I would suspect this is very far in the future and a big maybe. Someday, but someday never comes.

  17. Stimpacker says:

    Why compete with the Nissan Leaf and the soon-to-come Chinese BEVs? It’s like Apple wanting to build a cheap sub-$100 tablet to compete with the generic Chinese ones. Useless rumor.

    1. Boris says:

      I don’t think that’s the right analogy, there is still no compelling vehicle in the Leaf/Golf category. 140-200 miles range, superchargable, price at 25K – 35K, who wouldn’t like that…

  18. ClarksonCote says:

    There’s a huge market overseas for smaller vehicles. It makes sense that Tesla may be pursuing one to fill that market.

  19. Brian says:

    I agree with most others. I believe that Tesla has plans to eventually get into the subcompact market. They might even get into it this decade. But it will NOT look like the picture given.

    Musk has basically said that to be a Tesla, a car needs to do three things:
    1) At least 200 mile range
    2) Option of supercharging
    3) Be a better car than any other in its class

    He never said there is a class he would never compete in – he has even spoken of building a truck! All he has to do is build the BEST subcompact car on the market. From those subcompacts available in the US, that doesn’t seem like such a high bar.

  20. Breezy says:

    Sometimes it seems people want Tesla to be the only automaker in the world. Look at all the delays with the Model X which is a taller Model S with falcon doors and two motors. It’s going to be at least a decade before they have a full line of products, if they ever get there.

    Making a good subcompact is really hard because of all the cost and space constraints, make it and EV an it becomes even more challenging. All signs point to GM being the first to market with a compelling subcompact EV. Basically they just need to increase the range on the Spark EV a bit.

  21. Click bait.

    Very unlikely that Tesla will produce a low-price low-margin car any time soon.

    If you could sell every $35k-$55k you can build, why would you go downmarket before you had to? Pretty silly speculation.

    1. mutle says:

      Because your stated goal is to help the world, not just the rich, get off of fossil fuels?

  22. Huffster says:

    I don’t but it. I believe pickup truck on model 3 platform MUCH more likely to come after model 3.

    1. Jouni Valkonen says:

      that is because you are an American. However Tesla is an international company and compact car is aimed mostly for European and Chinese markets.

      Trucks are very anerican thing, but globally they are not that important.

  23. TomArt says:

    I don’t buy it one bit…unless they have some additional resources sprouting overnight, there simply cannot be a 3rd active platform (GenIV?) produced that quickly. This is ludicrous.

    They don’t even have GenIII prototypes yet! We haven’t even seen the revised Model X prototype yet, and it’s on the GenII platform!!

    I’m sure there are talks and discussions, brainstorms, etc., but this kind of project is waaay out on the horizon. GenIII has the sedan, CUV and new Roadster to go.