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Aluminum is too expensive to use in Tesla's entry-level sedan

Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sedan has made quite a mark on the automotive scene thanks to its good looks, impressive performance, “adequate” driving range, and the support of its growing Supercharger network. However, the Model S is a vehicle that starts at $69,900 (before a $7,500 federal tax credit and applicable state credits, rebates) and can reach into the $100,000 price range for the Performance model.
 
Tesla is never going to conquer the mainstream market with a $70,000+ vehicle, so work is well under way on its entry-level electric sedan that will slot in below the Model S. The “Model E” — as the press likes to call it — will be roughly 20 percent smaller than the Model S and will be constructed of more “appropriate materials” according to Tesla’s VP of Engineering, Chris Porritt.
 
This likely means that the Model E will feature a unibody constructed primarily of steel instead of the more expensive aluminum used in the Model S. It’s still likely, however, that aluminum will be used sparingly in areas like the trunklid, hood, and suspension subframes to save weight.
 
“I expect there will be very little carry-over,” said Porritt. “We’ve got to be cost-effective. We can’t use aluminum for all the [small car’s] components.”


Tesla Model S
 
The Model E will be primarily positioned against the BMW 3-Series ($32,750), Mercedes C-Class ($35,800), and Audi A4 ($33,800).
 
Porritt also took the time to call out electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf that forsake style in order to present a quirky, green image. “People don’t want to look eccentric. They want to have pride in their car’s looks.”


Tesla Model X with its rear Falcon Doors in the open position
 
The Model E is still at least two year away, with production slated to commence in late 2016. In the mean time, the next model in the pipeline from Tesla is the Model X crossover, which is based on the Model S. The vehicle will be available with dual electric motors and “eccentric” rear Falcon Doors that are supposed to make entry into the rear passenger area of the vehicle easier. It’s scheduled to enter production next year.

Source: Autocar





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