Tesla Needs New Models & Trims

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When driving past Amsterdam this morning, it occurred to me that all Tesla cars look the same. That is not good for an exclusive brand that aspires to sell hundreds of thousands of their cars.

Most car buyers don’t want only the best car for the lowest price. They also want a car that stands out from the masses, and that reflects the unique personality of the owner. That is why, once you get into high-volume production of average cars, the number of body shapes, wheel sizes, drivetrains, and colors explode. The luxury car models have so many options that nearly every car sold is unique.

The smallest VW, the Up!, is also sold as the Seat Mii and the Skoda CityGo. The price is too low to allow much differentiation — they look identical at first glance, but they are different enough and have their own target customer base.

For the much bigger and more costly VW Golf, there is more budget to make a distinct version for every brand. Together, VW, Seat, Skoda, and Audi sell over 2 million cars of this basic type — the best sold model in the world by a wide margin. Sales numbers this high would not be possible without the many versions distributed over the 4 brands. Audi targets the luxury buyers, VW is for the “German quality,” Skoda is robustness and high value for money, Seat is young and fun.

Tesla is going to encounter the same problem. With the number of Model S and Model X on the road, they become less exclusive. And in this price segment, a certain level of exclusivity is expected. The competition realizes this by offering simple variants of the body, besides multiple basic body shapes. Aside from the sedan, Tesla should offer the hatchback and the station wagon / shooting brake as a minimum. In China, there should be a long version, with the driver in the front and the owner in the back. Even the Volvo S/V60 models needed an L version, not only the top-of-the-line S/V90 models.

It is not only the need for exclusivity that will force Tesla to create more versions of its cars. Different use cases in different markets will also require other configurations. In Europe, the triangle of London–Berlin–Paris is often considered a single metropolitan area, but perhaps it is better to enlarge it to Leeds–Warsaw–Lyon. Within this area, about 200 million people live. There are dozens of large cities. There is hardly any fly-over country in it. For business users, it is much more common to travel by car than to fly to the next city. Private planes are a rarity compared to the USA. The range of current Model S and X is too short for this group of users to be as practical as often required. And this is probably the largest group of buyers of cars above €50,000. A new battery option of 130kWh — 150kWh for Europe could catapult sales, especially if this is a hatchback model.

If this is becoming necessary for the S & X models, it will be more than double for the Model 3. When the novelty wears off, different body shapes are needed to keep sales at the 500,000/year level.

I am a reader, not a viewer of YouTube and other platforms where the creative show their vision on future models. I would like to ask anybody who created or simply saw pictures of alternative Tesla S3X models to post them in the comments.

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Maarten Vinkhuyzen

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. At the end of 2019 I succeeded, I replaced my Twingo diesel for a Zoe fully electric.

Maarten Vinkhuyzen has 280 posts and counting. See all posts by Maarten Vinkhuyzen