Tesla Has Yet To Complete Model 3 Alpha Prototype

APR 24 2015 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 125

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Tesla Logo

On Wednesday of this week, Tesla Motors, in its annual proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commissions, noted that it still hasn’t completed the alpha engineering prototype of the Tesla Model 3.

This wouldn’t be news were it not for some previous mentions by Tesla as to when it expected the Model 3 alpha prototype to be ready.

In Tesla’s SEC filings dated November 2014 we see the following listed under “probable of achievement:”

Successful completion of the Model 3 Alpha Prototype

Then, in a filing in February 2015, we see the same statement:

Successful completion of the Model 3 Alpha Prototype

We now know from Tesla’s latest filing that neither of those “successful completion of the Model 3 alpha prototype” goals were met.

Though completion of the alpha prototype may be behind schedule, Tesla’s track record shows that there’s still plenty of time to ready the Model 3 for 2017 launch.  As The Wall Street Journal explains:

“Tesla Motors still has more than 30 months to launch the car in order to meet its target for launching the Model 3…”

“In its proxy statement filed in 2012, Tesla said it completed the so-called alpha prototype of the Model S sedan in December 2010, or less than 20 months before the first delivery of the car in June of 2012. The alpha model was described as an “engineering prototype” and it was approved by the board one month after it was completed.”

“The company then finished its “beta” prototype—described as a validation prototype—in October 2011, about nine months before the sales launch.”

So, the Model 3 could still arrive in 2017, though we suspect it will only be in limited production at that point in time.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Categories: Tesla

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125 Comments on "Tesla Has Yet To Complete Model 3 Alpha Prototype"

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taser54

Using the Model S as an example for a timeline from Alpha to production is misplaced, considering the numerous quality control problems that the Model S had when first released. Simply put, the Model S was rushed to market.

Cavaron

Don’t know what your definition of “rushed into production” is. The warplane definition is like “if more planes crash because of design flaws than because of enemy fire”. Couldn’t say that many (if any) Model S where destroyed because of a “rush into production”…

Ryan

While rushed and having issues, it was also the first time they had ever done it. I expect them to learn greatly from their struggles with the Model S and X and be able to exceed expectations with a smaller, more conventional Model 3. Cost, cost, cost is going to be their biggest challenge.

Lustuccc

Indeed! We cannot apply linear time comparison between past productions and futur ones. The dynamic, the experience, the design, the materials, the factory tooling and most of all, the scale are all different, but I have most confidence in the savoir-faire of mister Musk and his team.

Lensman

By what criteria was the Model S “rushed” to market? If anything, it was delayed longer than necessary due to Elon Musk’s perfectionism.

Consumer Reports gives the Model S an “average” reliability rating. That’s not bad for a new car company with the first car made entirely in-house!

Tesla has been put under a magnifying glass because of constant media exposure. Of course, that’s by choice, since Tesla milks media attention for a lot of free publicity. But the constant attention has perhaps given an exaggerated idea of how serious the early production problems were for the car.

As a reminder: Tesla has -never- had a government mandated recall of the Model S. -Every- model of car has problems crop up. The question is how serious and how common they are. The early production problems with the Model S were mostly minor, never common, and have mostly been solved.

CP

The early production problems with the Model S were mostly minor, never common, and have mostly been solved.

That cheerleading plus 3 bucks gets you a hoo-hah coffee drink at Shartbucks. “Mostly solved?” One of Edmunds’ driver escaped serious injury or death by the skin of his teeth.

http://tinyurl.com/tslastall

Gbitten

CP, what part of “never common, and have mostly been solved” did you not understand?

CP

Oh, I’d say that there are some cases of vehicles killed in the market by their uncommon defects. Think Audi 5000, Ford Pinto, Chevy Corvair, to name a few that come to mind with no effort. I think Tesla is beta testing its vehicles on its customers. I’d never put up with that in a $100,000 car, but others obviously will.

Fabian

I was at least hoping for an official CGI image of the design by now. I suspect this should appear in the next quarter, if not sooner, so they can start lining up the pre-orders…

Anon

Seems like the design goals significantly changed after Model X was so late in development. Model 3 should be much more straightforward to produce, due to Elon’s design hurdles on the big crossover. JB’s chart showed M3 Sedan and Crossover. Smaller, more affordable versions of S and X should do well.

Daniel

Model 3 talk is pointless IMHO They have not even gotten Model X out the door. While they could concurrently do both I really think Model 3 will be more like 2019/2020 to get on the road. There might be unforeseen Giga Factory stumbling blocks out there as well.

But what about the Tesla Truck?… 🙂

CP

“Elon” doesn’t say much about pickup trucks these days. As a pickup truck owner, I laughed the very first time I read that he wanted to make one. Somebody must have managed to convince him that he had swallowed too many magic mushrooms the day he gave that interview.

Lensman

Laughing at the idea that Telsa will sell a pickup? Well, as they say: “He who laughs last, laughs best.”

Batteries need to improve some before a BEV pickup will be practical. But if Tesla Motors is still around 15-20 years from now, you can bet that they’ll be selling one.

The world’s best-selling gas guzzler is the Ford F-series pickup, and the #2 vehicle is the Chevy Silverado pickup. Tesla definitely will want a piece of that market just as soon as batteries improve enough to make it practical.

Will Tesla get the last laugh? We’ll have to wait and see, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against them!

CP

I’ll be surprised if Tesla exists in 10 years as an independent car company. At best, I think they’ll be sold off to someone who might want the brand. But even that’s dicey, in my view, given that they add nothing unique or even special to the mix.

Get Real

Nothing unique? Really CP??

When you make your first in-house car and it quickly becomes the highest scoring vehicle ever made with the company also earning plaudits for having by far the best customer service and sales and repair ratings you have reached a level most companies only dream about. Not to mention the only company that makes long range EVs and has a rapidly exanding network of by far, the most capable DCFSs in the world.

I see you have become the latest Tesla hater on this board. I wonder if you really are new or just one of the existing FUD purveyors who decided to re-register under another user name because your old “copyright” was taking to much heat?

LuStuccc

+1

CP

Okay, first off, this is the only sign-on I’ve ever had. I’m here because I think (we’ll see) that Inside EVs is about three or four cuts above the other EV discussion venues on the Internet. Most of the rest engage in lots of fantasy, and wind up banning people who aren’t cheerleaders. I don’t think (and hope I am right) that Inside EVs is different.

Secondly, it’s true, I didn’t do the wonderful things that “Elon” did. But if that disqualifes someone from being a critic, well, then let’s not have anyone criticize the oil companies because when did any of us do their difficult tasks?

Now can we get back to the issues and not engage in ad hominem attacks on each other? Thanks.

wavelet

You’re thinking “pickup truck” in the American sense, which is a completely bizarro concept existing nowhere else in the world (using a heavy, harsh-riding, badly-handling, unsafe, inefficient and expensive commercial vehicle as a personal car).

The same market realignment that will happen with EV adoption (aerodynamics being really important, for example) will hopefully also eradicate personal pickup trucks — Tesla is unlikely to go there anytime soon.

Musk grew up in South Africa, and presumably meant vehicles for real commercial purposes.

Think compact/midsize vans & pickups based on the model 3 drivetrains — no reason they need to be large, heavy or tall as an F150.

CP

You’re thinking “pickup truck” in the American sense, which is a completely bizarro concept existing nowhere else in the world (using a heavy, harsh-riding, badly-handling, unsafe, inefficient and expensive commercial vehicle as a personal car).

Yes, all that and almost 3 million sold last year. Terrible!

The same market realignment that will happen with EV adoption (aerodynamics being really important, for example) will hopefully also eradicate personal pickup trucks — Tesla is unlikely to go there anytime soon.

Well, then we agree that Tesla doesn’t have a chance in the pickup truck market, albeit for different reasons LOL

Think compact/midsize vans & pickups based on the model 3 drivetrains — no reason they need to be large, heavy or tall as an F150.

Having observed Tesla since its inception, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if they introduce something they call a “pickup” but isn’t one. The upside? Everybody’s happy! LOL

wavelet

“Yes, all that and almost 3 million sold last year. Terrible!”
Yes, actually, the fact that the F150 and similar models have been the US’s bestselling “car” for the last several decades _IS_ terrible.

Not for the stockholders of the carmakers who make such cars, but for the US’s energy independence, political independence as well as for the entire planet.
Actually, it’s not so great for the carmakers either — concentrating on such vehicles for short-term profit is why the US car industry went bankrupt, costing US taxpayers a lot, and causing disasters like the urban Detroit of today.

CP

Yes, actually, the fact that the F150 and similar models have been the US’s bestselling “car” for the last several decades _IS_ terrible. … but for the US’s energy independence, political independence as well as for the entire planet.

To me, EVs are just cars, not causes. I’m won’t be standing in line to buy the 2019 Virtuemobile, but you’re welcome to do it if that’s what you’re into.

Actually, it’s not so great for the carmakers either — concentrating on such vehicles for short-term profit is why the US car industry went bankrupt, costing US taxpayers a lot, and causing disasters like the urban Detroit of today.

Hmm. This might be more convincing if VW, Mercedes, BMW, and Toyota weren’t also making “short term profits” by selling gas and diesel powered vehicles.

CP

p.s.: I thought more about this, and it seems as if you’re confusing an American pickup truck with what the Australians call a “Ute,” i.e. a sedan with the back seat and trunk replaced with a small open bed. GM’s Holden subsidiary makes them. Chevy made them here for a while too; we all remember the El Camino, of Bill Clinton astroturf fame.

That vehicle is not a pickup truck. If “Elon” makes a Ute and calls it a pickup, the pickup truck owners of America will laugh in his face. Hard.

wavelet

I know what utes are; I’ve been to Australia.
And I’m not confusing them with pickups.

Pickups used to be a primary vehicle when 30% of the US population was employes in agriculture, around 1910. That was pretty reasonable… And they were small & didn’t tow 18K pounds… They never needed to. The only reason they do now is so some wannabe macho like you can boast about it. There is no justification for such vehicles, not until whoever buys them has to pay for the externalities they cause.

CP

I guess you’ve never hauled a boat, or an RV, or heavy equipment. Nor have you filled the bed of a truck with a couple tons of rocks. In any case, last I read, the F-150 light duty full-sized pickup was the best selling vehicle in the United States. In any case, the sales numbers that I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this thread speak for themselves.

CP

By the way, I think people “boast” at least as much about their EVs as about their other vehicles. That said, just so you can be appalled, Grrrrrrrrrr! Sometimes a put a brick on the gas pedal so I can listen to it all night.

http://i.imgur.com/nC8ngZT.jpg

LuStuccc

@lensman. IMO in 10 years, if the Model 3 sales go as expected, they will produce the Roadster 2 and a pickup. We may have some surprises with the batteries of Model X… and it’s towing capabilities will get Tesla experience for pickups already. I would not be surprised at all if they had engineers working on the schematics of an electric truck. Trucks have plenty of space under the bed to put the batteries. A more powerful motor is really easy to build.

LuStuccc

5 years for the Roadster 2 and 2022 for the pickup.

My Sense of the Product timeline:
Roadster > Model S / Model X > Model 3 > New Roadster >>? Truck!
Translated to mean: The Truck won’t come until after the Giga-Factory is running smooth, Model 3 Production is on a steady flow, AND – Elon has built his NEW In-house designed Roadster (with, something like 2.4-2.5 0-60 Mph Time, and maybe 400+ Miles Range Per Charge and with Supercharging access of course!) and is selling THAT – before he will even get testy with the Truck Idea!

So – Model 3 – Let’s Say – smooth steady production by 2019, New Roadster by 2020 – 2022; so the Truck (F150 Beater!) – would be about 2022 – 2024-ish! (Or Later! He’s going to need some battery Capacity and Performance upgrades for the truck! Likely new Chemistry!)

You need to Expand it to Model 3 + Model Y (CUV), then new Roadster.

CP

p.s.: If anyone thinks “Elon” could aim for the compact pickup market, i.e. Dodge Durango, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, they’d better think again. I like those little trucks. The third vehicle I owned was a compact Nissan. Manual tranny, two spark plugs per cylinder, really spunky. But that was then. And even then, my little “trucklet” pulled a small U-Haul trailer from Kansas City to L.A., through the Mojave desert in temps of 110 degrees. Just try that one in an electric truck.

Nowadays, even the compact trucks are bigger and more powerful than they used to be. The requirements would be even greater than they used to be. So “Elon” ain’t gonna get into that market in any kind of serious way, i.e. past the press release stage. Sorry, “Elon,” you will have a hard enough time keeping your venture afloat trying to make a car that anyone in the 99% can afford. Leave the trucks to people who know what the hell they’re doing.

CP

Oops, stuck the p.s. in the wrong place. Obviously, when it comes to the internet, “Elon” knows more than me, ha ha!

CP
“Elon” barely even knows anything about cars. I own an EV and a 2013 Ram 3500 truck. Before buying that truck, I spent three years renting and researching trucks — half-ton, 3/4-ton, 1-ton — and talking to owners. It was the most carefully researched purchase of my life, and I learned a whole lot along the way. I had decided on a Ram truck about a year before I bought what I did. Now, I’m not a mechanic or expert, just a customer who really, really wanted to get the best one. My guess (which I realize might be wrong) is that “Elon” hasn’t done 1/10th the research I did. If he had, he’d have never said anything about making a truck until he had a working knowledge of the realities. If Ford, GM, Fiat-Chrysler, et al want to make an electric truck, they could do it tomorrow. Why don’t they? Because the power requirements of even light-duty (half-ton) trucks far exceed the cost-competitive capability of electric drive systems. Not only that, but even the light-duty pickups are over-spec’d because that’s what the market demands. I don’t think you could put less than about 750 kWh into even a light-duty… Read more »
Lensman

I certainly agree that an oversized RAM truck pickup isn’t the market Telsa will aim for. And even if they could, why would they try? The kind of “macho man” who thinks he needs a pickup-on-steroids isn’t likely to buy an EV!

It’s more likely that Tesla will aim for a compact pickup, altho as already noted, the market has moved away from the smaller, Toyota style small pickups, to larger ones. If Tesla can market a CUV in 2015 (the Model X), then perhaps a mid-sized pickup isn’t out of the question by 2030.

EV batteries continue to improve year after year, and the number of kWh an EV can charge in 30 minutes has already come down an amazing amount since the days of the GM EV1. This progress will continue. By the time Tesla is ready to market a pickup, it will be possible to charge them fast enough to make them practical. Tesla Superchargers are the current state of the art, but in another 10-15 years they’ll either be charging significantly faster (in terms of kWh per 30 minutes), or else they’ll have been made obsolete by another system which charges faster.

CP

What kinda macho man would have a Ram truck and an EV? That would be me.

http://i.imgur.com/AotcCja.jpg

In 2014, U.S. sales of heavy duty pickups (3/4-ton and 1-ton) were about 575,000. Light-duty full-size (1/2-ton) were another 1.45 million or so, for a total of 2 million pickups.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/2014-pickup-sales-recap-and-2015-predictions.html

BEVs and PHEVs sold 123,000 units total, about 72,000 of which were BEVs.

http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

My attitude is they’re just vehicles. But I suppose I can view my collection as half obnoxiously smug, and have obnoxiously macho. Funny how so many people who decry our national car obsession get all moralistic and tribal about them.

CP

Oops, I skipped the compact pickup category, aka “midsized” as it’s now called. That’s about 250,000 vehicles in 2014 — less than half the heavy-duty market. And, as I wrote before, it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish the mid-sized trucks from the light-duty ones.

Kumar

This is all crazy talk. An EV pickup could have a much smaller battery than your hyperbolic frenzy suggests and be quite functional.

CP

Stick a smaller battery in a pickup truck, and you’ll eliminate a segment of the market. How much would depend on the battery size. Pickup trucks are one of the last vestiges of the truly old-school vehicle market. Power and ruggedness define the large majority of the category.

Electric vehicles are fun, but their picture pretty much belongs next to the word “fussy” in the dictionary. I think it’s going to be a very long time before anyone anyone sells anything more than tiny quantities of BEV pickup trucks in the United States.

wavelet

The F150 is “light duty”? ROFL.

Agree, there’ll be an EV version of your Ram.

I consider it a travesty that people can even drive them without a full-on commercial semi-type license (they handle very differently than a car, and are much more dangerous to anything else on the road because of that huge mass and associated momentum).

…But I’m pretty sure Musk wasn’t referring to that. He’s thinking e-NV200 and something like the midsize & compact Toyotas used in the rest of the planet.

CP

Sorry, but half-ton pickups, i.e. the F-150, are light duty. By questioning that, you just revealed a lot more than you wanted to.

LuStuccc

I forgot about a Model ??? Even more affordable than Model 3 that would come after. A smaller car at 15-20 k$ built by the millions that will meet the ultimate goal of seriously reducing our carbon footprint.

Spider-Dan

Model 3 in 2017 is pretty much a Duke Nukem Forever promise at this point. Only the most diehard of Tesla fanatics think that date will hold.

Priusmaniac

Well it is another car, so it may be that the X is late but that the 3 in on track or even ahead of schedule. I am not in the know but Elon and others are.

Jouni Valkonen

The Model 3 launch depends on the completion of Gigafactory. There are no other possible variables that could have an effect on the launch date of 3.

jsmay311

No, it doesn’t.

The gigafactory is only needed in order to ramp up to their unprecedented vehicle production levels.

They can certainly launch the Model 3 and get by for awhile with reasonable production volumes without the gigafactory.

(And any talk about battery costs needs to recognize that the savings on the batteries coming out of the gigafactory will depend largely on volumes, and the gigafactory itself will need time to ramp up to full production volumes.)

Lensman

Jouni Valkonen is correct. The Model ≡ is being designed to use specially engineered battery cells produced by the Gigafactory… and nowhere else. No Model ≡’s can be produced until the Gigafactory is producing battery cells in some volume.

Tesla recently announced they accelerated the project to build the Gigafactory. Of course, Tesla has been late in its debut of every model up to now. But here’s hoping that advancing plans to get the Gigafactory up and running indicate a commitment to actually get the Model ≡ into production in a timely manner.

LuStuccc

You are both correct, batteries for Model 3 can be designed right now and begin to be produced even if the GF is not completed. Tesla will start to work in a “small” part of the GF by next year.

Dave86

Launch of Model 3 depends on two things:

* Gigafactory

* Engineering resources to develop the Model 3

Right now, Telsa’s resources are probably focused on getting Model X to production.

Since there isn’t sufficient supply of lithium ion batteries for a high volume car like the Model 3, it makes sense for Tesla to focus on the Model X anyway.

CP

If Tesla knew anything about cars, the X would be out there right now, and Model 3 would be introduced this fall. But this isn’t a car company, it’s a computer company that thinks it can get away with murder and lack of planning. It’s entertaining, in a pathetic sort off way.

Dave86

LOL. Can’t really argue against anything you wrote.

However, I was employee #008 of a high tech start-up that had a successful IPO. Just as we learned a lot as we went along, I’m sure that Tesla is drinking from the same kind of fire hose.

Model 3 will probably require a whole new platform than Model S & X. That will take some time to develop, so GM’s Bolt will probably make it to the market at least a year before the Model 3. The Bolt will be on schedule.

CP

I can’t quite imagine how I could be any more cynical about Silicon Valley companies and venture capitalists. Anyway, yeah, I think GM’s Bolt and Nissan’s upgraded LEAF will beat Tesla’s Model 3 to market. If that happens, it’ll be sayonara, Tesla.

Bolt and LEAF 2.0 were surely beat the Model 3 to market. But I am sure Tesla will have shown a very compelling prototype just before potential customers can go to the showroom and buy a Bolt or LEAF 2.0.

There may be some that are willing to wait the extra year (or two or three or…)

CP

“May be some” plus three bucks will get you a good buzz at Starbucks!

Spider-Dan

That would deal a crippling blow to Tesla’s ability to become the next Toyota, but would have virtually no impact on their ability to become the next BMW (which I believe is their true plan now).

Kumar

“If Tesla knew anything about cars” okay I get it you are a troll.

In other news, there is a relatively new car company that has made a repeat champion “car of the year”. You should check it out.

CP

Four drivetrains in 30,000 miles. I repeat: Tesla hasn’t yet figured out how to make cars.

http://www.edmunds.com/tesla/model-s/2013/long-term-road-test/2013-tesla-model-s-drive-unit-iv-the-milling.html

Get Real

Your just another irrational Tesla hater. As I mentioned in another post that Tesla has already solved the drive unit problem on all the new vehicles and has been swapping out the inservice units under unlimited warranty as the problem arises. In fact, they will come to your home and drop you a top of the line loaner while they fix your problems. This is one reason they scored by far the highest for repair/warranty work of all the OEMS.

Of course, facts like that don’t matter to people the hate like yourself.

CP

I don’t care how nice they were to me, If I lost four drivetrains in 30,000 miles, I’d quite reasonably conclude that Tesla doesn’t know how to make cars, and that they’re using their customers as beta testers. You can get away with that sort of thing in Sillycon Valley, and even with rich fan boys who have spare wheels sitting around. But the minute you try pulling that kind of stunt in the middle market, YOU DEAD.

Get Real

“Sillycon Valley” Really shows what you are all about. Probably a downsized Microsoft employee.

Anyways its going to be fun watching you and the other irrational haters eat it as Tesla grows to become a major OEM as the finest producer of EVs in the world.

CP

Neither irrational nor a hater. Just someone who’s been around (and around and around and around) the track with cars. You must remember this: Elon Musk = Joe Isuzu.

Get Real

Elon Musk has been majorly instrumental in the creation and rapid growth of several very large companies like PayPal, Space X, Solar City and Tesla which is more then you (or me for that matter) will ever do.

He didn’t get to that position by being stupid or an ideologue.

It is painfully obvious that you are more likely to be Joe Isuzu or someone like him and despite your lame protests you are very obviously a hater based on your repeated childish comments regarding Elon Musk, Tesla, and as you say it “Sillycon” Valley.

LuStuccc

If YOU knew anything about economics… The Model X was supposed to be introduced just after Model S to complete the necessary profits for Model 3. But Model S is such an ongoing success that “Elon” (as you nicely say) decided to surf on that success to bring to Model X all the experience they gained and perfect it in a way that it will be another big hit ! Profits will flow in again. The doors are the perfect pretext to justify the delays for the people who reserved it. And with the delay, the SC network even more appealing.
For the Model 3, it needs A LOT OF MONEY to build massively, and this would have been impossible right now.

CP

You’d be a little more convincing if the Model S actually made any money.

Anton Wahlman

Seeing as Tesla didn’t decide on the direction of the design until late January or early February of 2015, it should come as no surprise that an Alpha hasn’t yet been built. It will happen as soon as they can, now that they know how to proceed. On a separate note, if I were Tesla, I wouldn’t want to show any trace of a Model 3 for a long time, as it would take sales (“Osbourne effect”) from the S and X. I mean, if you can get a more modern car for perhaps somewhere in the $35,000 to $60,000 range, why not wait a couple of years?

LuStuccc

+1

Agreed, they are doing the same thing with holding back the final from and features of the Model X. They can’t afford to have every customer defer and wait.

But buying a car from Tesla for < $60k is possible now, http://www.teslamotors.com/models/preowned.

Spider-Dan

The M3 is not anywhere near the same market as the MX. No one is thinking, “Hmmm, I’d like to get a ~$40K compact luxury sedan, but it’s not available yet, so I think I’ll buy this ~$100K luxury SUV instead.”

tftf

That’s why I have been saying for months (here and on SeekingAlpha) that I don’t see the Model 3 going on sale by 2017.

Sales in 2018-2019 look more realistic to me.

Also, “real” volume Model X sales may slip into early 2015 (with just a few deliveries in Q3 2015 to technically make the latest X deadline).

tftf

“volume Model X sales may slip into early 2015”

-> should of course say 2016.

Sublime

Plus I don’t think it will make any financial sense. I really think the X is going to be a huge market success. It will also have much higher margins than the 3. So, why produce a single 3 while the company is battery supply constrained?
Add to this, the home energy storage batteries that Tesla is announcing. Those will likely have better margins than a Model X. So until the Gigafactory is running full tilt, there’s no need for a 3.

CP

I am very, very curious about the forthcoming home storage battery announcement. Skeptical too, given the cost and performance characteristics of lithium-ion, but we’ll see.

bob - thew snooper

FYI – I have an acquaintance doing work for Telsa. The final clay designs show it will be similar to a Bolt or C-max generally -5 door hatch- good logical practical design for this segment.

Mike

Cruel irony of it looks like a Bolt. GM gets loots of grief for their cars and people tend to cut Tesla lots of slack. Imagine Tesla rolling out a Bolt 2 years after GM.

Lensman

We don’t have to “imagine” what would have happened if Tesla had rolled out the Model S one-and-a-half years after the Nissan Leaf and the GM Volt. That’s precisely what happened. You may notice that it hasn’t stopped Tesla from being able to sell cars faster than it can make them!

Tesla has no reason to be concerned about the Bolt or any other EV made by any other auto maker. Legacy auto makers have a strong disincentive to make compelling EVs in large enough numbers to actually affect sales of their own gas guzzlers. That won’t change until plug-in EVs are a significant portion of the new car market.

Tesla plans to steal sales from the 99% of the new car market which is gas guzzlers, not from the 1% or so of the market which is plug-in EVs.

CP

It’s worth pointing out that Tesla has never made a nickel of profit by any meausure.

Lensman

In addition to being FUD, that is factually incorrect. Tesla makes about 25% gross profit on sales of the Model S, which is a considerably higher profit margin than larger auto makers.

The -only- reason that Tesla bashers even have an excuse to claim “Tesla has never made a profit” is because Tesla is re-investing all profits into growing the company.

Here’s an article from May 2013:

“After 10 Years in the Business, Tesla Finally Turns a Profit”

http://www.wired.com/2013/05/tesla-profit-q1-2013/

CP

Gross margin, i.e., what’s left after COGS, is not profit. There are more deductions. Honest. But ya got me on the one quarter (count ’em, one) where they made a GAAP profit from tax credits.

Get Real

Tesla is making profit on every car it sells but unlike the short-sighted capitalists that have run this country into the ground it is looking farther ahead then the next earnings call and plowing all that profit back into growth and expansion and its paying off handsomely as it is rapidly making huge inroads into the highly profitable luxury segment.

CP

If they were making a profit on every car, their financials sure as hell don’t show it. If operations were profitable, you’d see it in the cash flow statement. But then, you’d have to know how to read corporate financials, which it’s pretty clear you don’t.

Spider-Dan

I have yet to hear anyone substantiate the claim that other automakers (who have invested literally billions into their EV programs) somehow prefer to sell gas guzzlers over EVs. By this logic, Toyota would never have made the Prius (or any other hybrid), as they only “steal sales” from their other gas guzzling higher-margin vehicles.

CP

I read various articles that whine about how car dealerships — boo hoo — don’t want to sell EVs. I have yet to read ANY article in which an intrepid journalist took a break from re-writing press releases to go talk to car salesmen and find out why.

LuStuccc

Early Replacement$, repair$ and maintenance$.

CP

Do you think that any of the following might explain why dealers don’t like selling EVs?

1. High proportion of lookers not buyers?

2. Manufacturers establish terms to dealers that make it financially disadvantageous?

3. No appreciable used car market because of battery life issues?

4. Too expensive to train mechanics to fix the EV systems?

5. Too expensive to retrain sales force to sell electrics, when in fact hardly anyone wants to buy them anyway?

Nah, none of that. It’s an oil company plot. Much better story.

Spider-Dan

Tesla’s service plan for the Model S costs as much as other luxury gas automakers, and far more than Nissan, GM, or Toyota.

Most EVs have not even existed long enough to develop a realistic view of their long-term repair costs… and if anything, the experience of Leaf owners with severely degraded batteries 3 years in does not exactly make this argument a slam-dunk for you.

Once again: if what you are claiming is true, why would automakers like Nissan and GM invest billions in technology they don’t really want to succeed? And why would Toyota have ever invested in making the Prius to begin with?

CP

Once again: if what you are claiming is true, why would automakers like Nissan and GM invest billions in technology they don’t really want to succeed? And why would Toyota have ever invested in making the Prius to begin with?

The big car companies have vast dealer networks. There is a lot of inertia in the system. Above, I only speculated as to some possible reasons. I don’t think there are any conspiracies to block EVs, as many EV advocates commonly state or imply.

I’d really like to see an EV publication commit some real journalism and go ask some dealers and car sales people at the grass roots what’s going on, rather than assume and then publish the worst possible motives.

Brian

Noo!!!! I hope that’s not true! I want the Model III to look good. The CMax is a very functional vehicle but attractive it is not. It looks like a Focus that is retaining water… And the Bolt I haven’t seen in person, but it looks far to tall for my tastes.

Musk says he wants the Model III to compete with the BMW 3-series. I personally hope it looks at least as good as one, too.

Sublime

Maybe he meant i3 series 🙂

sven

Does it have a fifth seat?

Many Tesla-fanboys will be disappointed by the Model 3, because they think it will be a little smaller Model S for 50% of the price.

Lensman

Strangely enough, that does seem to be a popular idea.

I think it was on Seeking Alpha where someone pointed out that auto designers don’t design a less expensive car by taking a more expensive one and subtracting things. They do it by making a list of what features they want to include within the budget they have, then making a new design for a car incorporating what’s on the list.

I don’t know what the Model ≡ is going to look like, but I know one thing: It will -not- look like a slightly shorter version of the Model S.

wavelet

Well, it could _look_ like a smaller model S from the outside (although different proportions — the rear rake would have to be steeper, otherwise cargo capacity would eb too compromised), but there’ll definitely be less features on the inside, to keep costs lower and create differentiation between the model lines.

Ambulator

Good news! That’s exactly what I want.

Kumar

Me too. I’ve always assumed it would be like that.

Joe

I hope your acquaintance saw a clay model of the crossover. I would really hate the look of the Model 3 if it came anywhere close the look of the Bolt or Prius or any of the tall hatchbacks.

Ziv

I don’t see how the Tesla III could be 80% of the length of the S, (that would be a really tiny car [196*0.8=157″]) so it will probably be 80% of the weight. I would bet that it will look more like the Bolt/i3 than some would like.

Hmmm… After I looked the info up, 157″ is the size of a Mini, and the i3… Maybe the III WILL be 80% of the length of the S…

Kosh

I’m beginning to wonder if the Model III is a poker bluff, designed to trick/force the other builders into making the cheaper EVs….

Elon wants affordable electric cars, but that doesn’t mean he wants to build them!

Could be an interesting conspiracy theory, if not for that teeny Gigafactory thingie.

The volumes it’s designed to produce cannot be absorbed by the luxury market.

Otherwise, Tesla running behind schedule? Is this still news? Of course 2017 is not realistic. We’d be lucky to have the Gen 3 in 2018. 2019 sounds more like it.

I hope that doesn’t cause Nissan/GM to linger as well.

Kosh

Me neither. Our Leaf lease runs out in Jan 2017, so the next purchase will be decided on which one (longer range Leaf, Bolt, Model 3) is available at the time.

Brian

Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if none of those cars are available in January 2017. The last time I heard a date from Nissan it was “before March 31, 2017”. I personally expect Tesla to make nominal “deliveries” (i.e. at least 1) by the end of 2017, with ramp up in 2018. The Bolt is a bit of a wild card, and I can see it going either way regarding availability in January 2017.

Lensman

Why would anyone think a new car would debut in January? That’s the worst time of year for car sales. New car models are usually introduced in the market in September, at least in the USA. Perhaps that’s not quite as invariable as it used to be; both the Leaf and the Volt were introduced in December. But there’s no reason to expect the Bolt or any other nominally “200 mile EV” to be introduced in the first quarter of 2017.

wavelet

You saw an actual official product availability date (well, deadline) from Nissan? One that’s almost 2 years ahead?
Got a link?

Someone out there

The big problem with Tesla is that they never deliver on time. I very much doubt we’ll see the model 3 before 2019.

tftf

Given their track record, the car could slip into 2019.

Marshal G

I will buy it when it comes out. Any delay just means I can save more money towards it, maybe even to point of paying cash.

Steven

Elon, take your time, build it right. I’m not going anywhere.

CP

Are you acquainted with Elon Musk, or are you simply in the habit of calling random CEOs by their first name?

Nick

Don’t you take that familiar tone with me!

😀

CP

By the time that Tesla comes up with a Model 3, if they ever do, it’ll have been obsoleted by the competition. Take a candid look at Tesla, and you quickly see that their first car was a glorified Lotus conversion kit, and their second car was a one-off rich man’s toy. There was nothing really new in either one, nor were the introductions followed by process improvements (a la Hank Ford) that brought unit costs down.

Everything we’ve been told about both the Model X — a reskinned Model S with teenaged boy gull doors — and the Model 3 strongly suggests more of the me-too same. At the end of the day, Tesla has no advantages, only a gigantic disadvantage: A critical lack of scale economies compared to competitors.

Anything Tesla can do, the actual car companies can do better, cheaper, and faster. They are a pristine example of how so little of anything emanating from Silicon Valley has enduring value. If Tesla is here in 10 years, I’ll be really surprised. Folks, there’s no “there” there.

p.s.: I have no positions in stocks or other financial instruments related to TSLA, its competitors or suppliers.

Kumar

If you really believe all of this and aren’t just being a troll, then it’s pretty shocking your level of naïveté concerning the effects Tesla has already had on the American automotive industry.

Lensman

Troll rating: 99-44/100% pure.

But you are half-right on one point: The legacy auto makers -could- build compelling EVs, in large numbers, cheaper than Tesla… if they really wanted to. If they were willing to commit the resources and money needed to do that.

But of course, they don’t. And no one who has looked at the history of disruptive tech revolutions would expect them to. Legacy auto makers have a strong disincentive to build compelling EVs in large numbers, because those would cut into their own sales of best-selling gas guzzlers.

It’s the same reason Kodak dragged its feet about getting into the business of selling digital cameras. What happened to Kodak after the digital camera revolution was complete? Oh yeah, it went bankrupt in 2012. If you think the same thing won’t happen to some current market leaders selling gas guzzlers, as the EV revolution advances… then think again.

Now, which auto maker is the -only- one investing billions of dollars to build the manufacturing capacity necessary to provide many GWh of batteries to power long-range BEVs?

Oh, yeah… it’s Tesla. When it comes to building compelling EVs in large numbers, tiny little Tesla is vastly out-spending the legacy automotive giants.

CP
I think the reason the big guys don’t (yet) make EVs is because it’s such a niche. The batteries are so expensive that the only way to move the tin is to subsidize it, as Nissan has done. EVs are starting to trickle out, but in very low numbers because the prices are so high relative to equivalent gas cars. Last week I was talking to a married couple who work in different places, and they want to get another EV to replace their Think City, which they like but which is too small for their taste. The Think is a two-seater, and they want something with a back seat. They checked out a BMW i-3, and the bottom line was >$50K. A Fiat 500e was also very expensive. A Volt is in the $40K+ range. These are prices with the usual options that people (i.e. them and lots of others) order. I suggested that they look into a LEAF, but on a lease. Those leases are now $250/month, up from $200 last year, but I pointed out that it frees them from having to worry about babying the battery. They’re still dithering. By the way, if anyone wants a… Read more »
Get Real

Batteries WERE very expensive but do to the miracle of mass production they are and will continue to come down in price and go up in performance every year. That is why Tesla is building the Giga Factory so it can accelerate this trend and supply itself as it hits rapid growth.

The existing OEMs have too many disincentives to sell large numbers of compelling EVs because they will directly compete with their existing gas guzzlers for both sales and service.

They will be forced to change eventually but by that time Tesla will be a major producer of mid-priced EVs which will be compelling for their much lower TCO and of course silky smooth, fast and quiet drive trains.

Anyways, your blinded by hatred of Silicon Valley and Tesla will not let you see these developments

Get Real

More and more evidence that battery costs are overstated and they are falling very steadily.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-08/tesla-s-model-upgrade-is-a-pure-profit-play

CP

There is nothing new there, at least not to me or to those who have studied and predicted EV battery fundamentals. If anything, I’d have thought (and think, actually) that Tesla’s battery cost is less than than the $300/kWh suggested by Bloomberg.

http://tinyurl.com/mkkevb

daniel

One clear reason they Tesla will unlikely look like the Bolt: It will have the battery pack in the bottom of the car, like with the S, X.
This is a huge advantage not just for low CG, but for design as well. More internal space, as well as better safety.
My best guess for design would be something BMW 535i – ish.

Sublime

The Model S can likely hold a 100kWh or larger pack with the cells that will go in the 3. The 3 will need at most a 60kWh pack to hit its marks. That means the footprint can be reduced 40% or more and still have the battery in the floor. The CMax/i3/Bolt is the shape that maximizes interior space while minimizing drag. That is likely the shape it will be. Plus by the time it comes out, that shape will be very popular on the road and your opinion of it will have shifted. A regular 3 or 5 series shape will look dated.

Ziv

I was under the impression that the Bolt battery was under the cabin. Look at the photos of it with the doors open.

Lensman
One thing people tend to forget is the Model S is a very -wide- car, which allows the battery pack to be very flat. I suspect the Model ≡ won’t be so wide, so will use a taller battery pack. It will likely look taller (in proportion to its width and length) than the Model S. I’ll make a prediction right now: People will complain about the Model ≡ looking too much like the BMW i3 and/or the GM Bolt, and will accuse Tesla of being a mere imitator. But any smaller BEV designed in a wind tunnel likely has to look pretty much like either a Prius/Leaf or an i3/Bolt. Given the choice, I’d prefer the latter. Even if people think the i3 has a “weird” or ugly design, it’s best if EVs do -not- try to pass for a gas guzzler. (And I’d love to be proven wrong here; for Tesla to deliver a Model ≡ as stylish as, say, the Volt 2.0 or the Cadillac ELR.) Auto makers should be bold and make their EVs look different! Eventually, that will be seen as a positive thing, rather than a negative. The Ford Model T didn’t try to… Read more »
CP

Lots of people most definitely do NOT want an EV to look different. This is one of the raps on the Prius. I personally don’t care either way, but can understand the “I want to blend in” point of view.

RedLeafBlueLeaf
On the one hand, it’s been great having Tesla blaze the trail with the Roadster, Model S, and the supercharger network. The company has been amazing. It’s also great that they have plans for a Model X and a roadmap containing an EV that will be “affordable” and have 200+ mile real range. This is a company that deserves lots of praise. On the other hand, it’s silly that people post here and elsewhere saying thinks like “don’t buy such-and-such an EV because the Model 3 will be here soon” or “I have no idea why such-and-such a company is producing that EV now -sales will stop in January 2017 when the Model 3 comes out”. It’s clear that the Model 3 is a *goal*, a *target*, not a drawn-up plan for a car. In addition to all of the unknowns that will need to be resolved before Model 3 becomes a reality, the Model 3 program will have to compete for resources with the other Tesla programs. We’ve already seen Model X get delayed for 2+ years (when I first entered a Tesla showroom in November 2012 I was told I could order an X and have it delivered… Read more »
CP

A 200+-mile real range EV will need the same sized battery now in the Model S. That’ll be a $16,000+ item. Kiss “affordability” goodbye for quite a while. This is why EVs will be compromises for a long time.

Get Real

What a hater, so obvious that you are shilling for the anti-EV zombies.

Battery costs are now almost certainly now at about $300/kwh and Tesla’s Giga will bring them down to about $200/kwh and that is with no other improvements which is unlikely!

Well designed 200 mile EVs need about 50-60 kwh and that means for Tesla the Model 3 battery will be around $10,000. Still expensive of course but you also get to subtract out all the costs of the ICE on a comparable ICE car.

I think the bottom line is that smarter people already know that the TCO of an EV is already going to be lower then an equivalent ICE vehicle AND the driving dynamics really seal the deal. Also, an EV is the only type of vehicle that anyone with a roof that gets sun can make their own fuel for. This alone guarantees that the EV plus Solar PV will dominate in the future.

CP
All my predictions and evaluations of the medium-term future of EVs are based on $200/kWh for batteries as of 2020. Why? Because this is what McKinsey & Co. projected several years ago, based on their study of the manufacturing economies of scale. At some point, I’ll begin using $160/kWh, but it’s too early now. http://tinyurl.com/mkkevb An EV gets a year-’round average of 3.1-3.3 miles per kWh. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ Prudent use of an EV calls for recharging at 20%-25% state of charge. A 200-mile real world, i.e. 80%, range would need a 78 kWh battery, which I’ve helpfully rounded up to 80 kWh. At $200/kWh, that’s a $16,000 battery cost. At $160/kWh, it’s a $13,000 battery. Note that this is cost and not price. Businesses that sell at cost don’t last long. And it does not include the other EV system hardware or software. What a hater, so obvious that you are shilling for the anti-EV zombies. Please cut that out. Trust me, I am well equipped to reply in mind, but I’m not going to do it. I’ve stated the reason elsewhere: I have a high regard for InsideEVs. They are advocates of EVs, which is great, but they strike me… Read more »
LuStuccc

You made me laugh with your futur projection from several years ago… The more the projections are old the more they’re accurate?!?

Here’s one from last week…

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2015/03/electric-vehicle-batteries-already-cheaper-than-2020-projections/

CP

gain, nothing new. The article’s numbers track McKinsey & Co.’s 2012 estimates. By the way, I don’t think the claim of $150/kWh being enough to move EVs into the mainstream is even remotely close to the mark.