Elon Musk has talked about a cheaper $25,000 Tesla vehicle on a few occasions. Just after Tesla Model 3 production hell, Elon thought that the technology to produce that cheaper model would be ready around 2022–2023. It is one thing to produce a vehicle like the SGMW Wuling Mini EV for less than $5,000 for China, or the Dacia Spring for €17,000 for the EU. But a Tesla must adhere to Tesla standards.
- Must be safest vehicle in its class.
- Teslas are never slow.
- Teslas are a joy to drive.
- Teslas are beautiful, at least in the eyes of Elon Musk.
- Teslas have enough range.
Elon has also mentioned that there will be localized models for China and Europe. The expectation by many Tesla watchers is that the $25,000 model and the localized models will be versions of the same vehicle. We have also decided that it must be called the Tesla Model 2.
The China model has to compete with the Nissan Sylphy and Volkswagen Bora. The European model has to fight the Volkswagen Golf and ID.#. A USA model will have to be better than the Toyota and Honda best sellers in the $20,000 to $30,000 market.
These are three distinctly different vehicles. But they share size, price, comfort, and performance. We have not heard anything from the Tesla design center in Los Angeles for the past year or more. It made some refinements on the Cybertruck and Semi, but that can hardly qualify as a full-time occupation. Meanwhile, Tesla is opening new design centers in Shanghai and Berlin for the localized models.
The design of a new model takes about 7 years for normal car development, about 5 years for high-speed development, and at least 3 years at Tesla when Elon sleeps on the floor. To bring the Tesla Model 2 to market in the timeframe mentioned a few years ago, the design must be well underway. The only way to match this with the promise that the local teams can develop original models for their markets is if those design teams can use a platform.
A few years ago, Carlos Ghosn gave a presentation about the future of car development and production. The base was a skateboard-like platform. On it the different brands could build their coaches. The local design teams would apply a skin to the outside and inside to optimize for the local market. They could create new models visually as often as needed. This way the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance could keep separate identities for its brands but share the costly development and production of the expensive parts of a car. This design philosophy in one form or another is practiced by VW with its platforms, brands, and models.
I suspect that Tesla is developing something like the Volkswagen MEB (Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten) set of building blocks for its localized Model 2 vehicles. This is the only way the new design teams in Berlin and China can turn out localized models in about a year and start production in two years.
This Model 2 series platform will have a front casting, rear casting, and structural battery. There will be probably multiple versions of front and rear castings for single motor (front or rear), dual motor, and performance models. The structural battery can be in different lengths and with different cell chemistries. Other building blocks will be a set of motors, suspensions, brakes, power electronics, seats, HVAC, etc. The same set of building blocks can also be used for small and medium vans.
Tesla is in dire need of more variation in its lineup. This Tesla Model 2 series platform can be used to produce the needed variety without complicating production much.
Even more than Tesla, the BEV market needs these models. Legacy auto is making BEVs with limited usability and more capable and bigger PHEVs. Understandable from their point of view, but very wrong for the transition.
Note that this article is not based on official Tesla statements. It is based on my personal deductions, and as such, if it is a pile of BS, it is my pile of BS.
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