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Tesla wants to release a quality, yet affordable EV (unlike the Nissan Leaf)

Now that Tesla Motors has freed itself of federal debt, many are wondering, "What's next for the automaker?" According to its CEO, creating a quality electric vehicle that is also affordable is the main goal. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company's Model S is a great EV, but it's a luxury car that is out of the price range of many consumers. He compared it to the Nissan Leaf, which is an affordable EV, but lacks quality (in Musk's opinion).

“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people,” said Musk. “And you have the Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great." 

Musk said the ideal affordable Tesla EV would be available in about three to four years, and would be sold for under $40,000 USD. It would also have a range of about 200 miles per charge. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

With Tesla paying off its $465 million federal loan from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) an entire nine years earlier than expected last week, some suspected that Tesla's next move would be an acquisition by larger companies like Daimler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. Daimler AG has 4.87 million Tesla shares valued at $425 million and Toyota has 2.94 million shares valued at $257 million.

While Musk recognizes that an acquisition is possible in the future, he doesn't see his company being sold to another automaker.

“Tesla just seems very expensive [to other automakers],” said Musk. "I’d guess it would come from outside the auto industry. It would be a buyer with a very large cash position."

Musk said Apple is a large company that could qualify as a suitable buyer for Tesla at some point.

However, Musk isn't selling anytime soon. He wants to stick around to continue selling Tesla's popular Model S sedan (the company sold 4,900 in the first quarter), seeing profits soar (Tesla's profit came in at 12 cents a share for Q1, which was a boost from a loss of 76 cents a share in Q1 2012) and developing the affordable Tesla EV.

"What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car," said Musk. "I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”

Source: The Detroit News

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By DockScience on 5/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: affordable
By web2dot0 on 5/27/13, Rating: -1
RE: affordable
By Spuke on 5/27/2013 9:06:00 PM , Rating: 1
He's got a track record of success. What's yours?
So I have to be a billionaire now in order to determine what I can and cannot afford? I know I WON'T be buying an EV at $40k and my income bracket is exactly what he'll be targeting with that "cheap" EV. Call me when it's $30k loaded, isn't stripped of the options that price range has, has 4 doors AND it has a 350 mile range with the A/C and radio on at highway speeds in 100F temps.

RE: affordable
By web2dot0 on 5/27/2013 9:56:50 PM , Rating: 3
You are buying cutting edge tech, so premium is assumed. $40,000 is affordable to most middle class families. The question isn't whether the price is too expensive to you ....

It's whether the price is affordable to significant portion of the population. The answer is YES. Lots of people buy cars in the $40K range. ... A whole lot more than $60-$100K.

That's the right strategy.

Stop with the "I want a EV at $20K fully loaded, 1000mile range ....". We all want the holy grail.

He has proven people wrong that EVs can survive and can thrive. Give the guy come street cred. , and stop with the bashing.

It takes incremental steps to make things happen. 10 small steps == 1 big leap.

Think big, not be narrow minded.

RE: affordable
By 91TTZ on 5/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: affordable
By BaronMatrix on 5/28/2013 4:20:57 PM , Rating: 2
Better than testing how much SMOG AND SOOT our atmosphere can hold, you suicidal maniacs...

RE: affordable
By MZperX on 5/28/2013 12:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
I have been making over six figures since 2007. As far as income and net worth, my family is what would be considered upper middle class. I have never spent $40k on a vehicle and have no plans to do so in the forseeable future (say the next 10-15 years). That's way too much money. A vehicle is a depreciating asset that I like to spend as little as possible on. It's a money pit.

The most expensive vehicle I ever bought cost $20k. Now, I'm not sure if that's representative of the mythical "average" middle class consumer, but as long as they cannot produce a car that starts at a $20k base price, perhaps costs $25k nicely equipped, and tops out at under $30k in its top-of-the-line trim level, I will not be interested. And I even like Tesla and the EV idea for a variety of reasons: reducing dependence on foreign oil, cleaner if coupled with nuclear power generation (especially LFTR if we ever develop it), and also because it could save me money in the long run. But not for $40k thank you very much...

RE: affordable
By 91TTZ on 5/29/2013 9:30:37 AM , Rating: 2
I have been making over six figures since 2007. As far as income and net worth, my family is what would be considered upper middle class. I have never spent $40k on a vehicle and have no plans to do so in the forseeable future (say the next 10-15 years). That's way too much money. A vehicle is a depreciating asset that I like to spend as little as possible on. It's a money pit.

That's why people like you tend to accumulate wealth, while people who make $40k a year and buy new BMWs are perpetually in debt.

RE: affordable
By karimtemple on 5/29/2013 10:10:46 AM , Rating: 2
As opposed to the ~300% income rate? lmao. Bad math, son.

RE: affordable
By StormyKnight on 5/29/2013 2:07:54 AM , Rating: 2
Who are you to say what is affordable and to whom? Between my wife and I, we make around $150K/yr. We have mortgages, student loans, car loans, insurance, taxes and children. A small $40K car would be a luxury item we couldn't afford and simply wouldn't work for a family of 5. And if you think that I'm an isolated instance, you'd be dead wrong. I'd lay even odds this Tesla for the masses will be Volt/Leaf sized and not family friendly. I can barely afford the payment on my $20K car loan, much less a $32.5K one. This will be a car for single, rich greenies, nothing more.

RE: affordable
By karimtemple on 5/29/2013 10:07:08 AM , Rating: 2
This comment provides good insights, but to be fair the exact phrasing was "under $40,000."

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here, because it's fun.

$20k is under $40,000, haha. Obviously it could mean e.g. $38k, but consider that he explicitly names the LEAF as a competitive target -- the LEAF is $28k.

Now $20k is a lot better than $28k, but aside from the whole "green" thing (who cares lol) and local/federal EV incentives, consider the daily cost. "kWh cost" in Google shows me an NPR article that says the average US cost was $0.12 in 2011. Conservative 3rd-party EV ratings appear to put the LEAF at about 3.4 miles per kWh.

That's $0.035 per mile. If your actual MPG on your combustion engine is 22 (avg 21.5), you're looking at $0.164 per mile. That's almost five times the cost. You can literally divide your monthly fuel cost by 4.5 to get your new monthly fuel cost on EV -- based on averages, about $125 a month.

$125 a month is about the difference between a $21k loan and a $28.8k loan. So far the theory that EVs would have less maintenance (and maintenance cost) seems to be holding up as well.

Peace and I'm out!

RE: affordable
By lelias2k on 5/27/2013 10:47:55 PM , Rating: 2
Well, today we carry more power in our phones that we had in our desktops 15 years ago, so how about some optimism for a change?

Technology will get there. Just give it time.

RE: affordable
By cyberguyz on 5/28/2013 8:25:44 AM , Rating: 1
I think it is affordable. And I am not a billionaire. Or even a millionaire.

A stinkin Chevy Volt is $42,000 where I live (Canada).

Shit, you are gonna drop $40k for a shitty little Prius (with the tech package - before taxes) here.

So Yes, I call $40,000 for a Tesla quite affordable sir!

Just as an aside: I spotted a Tesla Model S parked on the road the other day. It was one damn sweet ride and quiet as a ghost. The techie in me had wet dreams over it.

RE: affordable
By marvdmartian on 5/28/2013 9:10:40 AM , Rating: 1
You disqualify yourself by revealing you're from Canada. ;)

$40,000 is what middle class people currently pay for minivans and SUV's. I seriously doubt that Tesla is going to come out with a $40K e-SUV or e-minivan. More than likely, we're talking a compact to mid-sized car, like the Chevy Volt.....which is already a decent car, in the price range Tesla is referring to.

Affordable mid-sized cars will still sit in the $20,000 to $30,000 price range, NOT $40,000.

RE: affordable
By NeoReaper on 5/28/2013 10:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
its so refreshing to see someone logical enough to see that a 40k ev is NOT affordable. as much as ppl love to talk about EV being better for the planet and blah blah blah but ultimately ppl care about price points. someone here pointed out how expensive the prius and volt is and guess what, thats the exact reason why ppl would question this EV, its too expensive.

RE: affordable
By saganhill on 5/29/2013 8:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
4 doors? Only old men drive 4door sedans.

RE: affordable
By finetsky on 5/29/2013 10:48:47 AM , Rating: 1
Actually 40k is very affordable if you consider running cost. You have to pay a lot of cash every time you stop on gas station. Electricity is far less expensive. I've seen some analyzes and I would say that return on investment is quite rapid. 40k electric is same as 20k gasoline to me. Now consider the comfort of electric too.

RE: affordable
By karimtemple on 5/29/2013 10:57:58 AM , Rating: 2
By my math, you only save $1500 a year average on fuel. $40k EV is definitely not the same as $20k combustible -- more like a $33k combustible.

RE: affordable
By BRB29 on 5/28/2013 9:09:14 AM , Rating: 1
Thank the heavens because anyone that's middle class can afford these vehicles unless they destroyed their credit being stupid.

In 3-4 years the average vehicle price will probably be about 33k. Even regular mid size sedans these days can get to high 30s easily. Anyone buying the most popular sedans(accord, camry, etc...) are paying mid to high 20s. Please don't bring base price because very few base models actually sell.

RE: affordable
By NeoReaper on 5/28/2013 11:13:54 AM , Rating: 1
id like to point out that in America, it is actually not easy to get a regular mid size sedan up to the high 30s. even when fully loaded they are not usually at HIGH 30s, so youre clearly trying to distort the facts here. but id liek to thank you for pointing out that popular sedans (accord, camry, etc...) are now in mid to high 20s with some typical options (which is what i consider the actual typical car).

i find it odd that you say, please dont bring in base prices, yet ur justification of this future EV's pricing is based on a theoretical base price of 40k. based on how cars are typically priced with options, that would mean with this car could easily approach 50k. is ur idea of affordable to the AVERAGE person? i think not.

RE: affordable
By Rukkian on 5/28/2013 12:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
I will probably not own a 40k car anytime soon, but that does not mean it is not affordable, but you are calling out that this would be a base model, when track record with this company does not point to this. I would be surprised if this was stripped down much at all.

Either way it is just speculation at this point, as nobody (Even Musk) knows what that car will look like or have for options. If you compare it to the leaf, and add 13k, even with a bigger battery, in 4 years, you should be able to put out a pretty nice car.

RE: affordable
By RDO CA on 5/28/2013 1:25:04 PM , Rating: 2
It really depends on what $40k means.
Is it completly equiped or stripped? Is it with the Gov. $7500 subsidy already taken off? Is it with destination chg? If a fully loaded car without gov money is $40k and can go real world 200 miles with AC and other on it will sell.

RE: affordable
By karimtemple on 5/29/2013 11:01:07 AM , Rating: 2
The $7500 incentive isn't cash. It's tax credits and such. That also means it isn't necessarily $7500; it could be $0 depending on your situation, and anywhere in between.

RE: affordable
By toffty on 5/28/2013 2:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Elon has actually said he wants the base model at or below 30k. Not sure why the author said less than 40k.

With 7.5k rebate from the Fed (US) and from States (Colorado is a 6k credit) it's very affordable.

By Zapnot on 5/27/2013 11:22:05 AM , Rating: 2
"I’d guess it would come from outside the auto industry. It would be a buyer with a very large cash position."

That would be Apple then.

RE: Hmmm...
By rudolphna on 5/27/2013 11:38:48 AM , Rating: 5
Oh god don't even say that. Nightmares.

RE: Hmmm...
By euler007 on 5/27/2013 12:36:12 PM , Rating: 4
Let me throw the first stone.

The new model would only be available in white, but there would a -S model eight months later in black.

RE: Hmmm...
By cokbun on 5/28/2013 12:21:10 AM , Rating: 3
and of course the price will be 20.000 $ for the 32 miles range model and 40.000 $ for the 64 miles range model

RE: Hmmm...
By CZroe on 5/27/2013 12:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
They'll probably make iPeds and claim that they were the first ones to make a compelling moped (once you finally get them to admit that it's not something completely new).

Seriously though: I think a motorcycle is the fastest way to make extended range EVs affordable. There are already a few players, including one started by a Tesla engineer (Mission Motors). Too bad their Mission One EV bike stalled and they don't plan on selling complete bikes. I really want to see what Tesla could bring.

RE: Hmmm...
By Shig on 5/27/2013 1:25:52 PM , Rating: 3
Google buys them, 90% of driver workforce eliminated in 5 years.

RE: Hmmm...
By Nutzo on 5/28/2013 11:39:26 AM , Rating: 2
Apple buys them and manufacturing is moved to china.

RE: Hmmm...
By wushuktl on 5/28/2013 7:47:12 AM , Rating: 3
Small percent of Teslas vehicles are suddenly crashing into everything and anything on the road. Teslas response: "you're driving it wrong"

RE: Hmmm...
By umpabumpalump on 5/27/2013 3:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
More like Google or even Amazon or any one of the other number of businesses that at least try to show an interest in their customers needs.

Apple would destroy Tesla if they owned it. releasing cars that would be written off at the first hint of a bump, and one that needed updating every year and became slower with each upgrade.
Google would produce a large range of cars with various price points and Amazon would produce a car that was super cheap but could only be recharged at their power station.

Buy Tesla
By btc909 on 5/27/2013 12:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
Tesla isn't a long term company then. If I were a big typical old tech auto company i'd buy out Tesla ASAP and scrap it. Stay in the back pockets of Big Oil, hire lawyers & lobbyists to stave off CAFE as long as possible. This all makes sense if you know what the actual COST is to produce a vehicle. The production cost of an electric vehicle is far more expensive. If Apple were to buy Tesla the costs would be jaw dropping. I see where Musk is going here, the big time isn't the auto world it's space. Harvesting asteroids, commercial flights, payload launches, etc.

RE: Buy Tesla
By Treckin on 5/27/2013 2:39:37 PM , Rating: 1
Yes COST is the problem.

That's why space exploration is the answer. Its cheaper then making cars...

Did you read your post once before clicking submit?

Pretty sure we are only at the oh-so-early beginning of the capitalization of space travel...

Cars, on the other hand, have crowned countless elites through the economic position of capital in industry.

Space industry, not so much. Mostly a sideshow spawned in the wake of the military industrial machine.

RE: Buy Tesla
By Scrogneugneu on 5/27/2013 7:27:40 PM , Rating: 3
Think for a moment.

The guy has founded SpaceX, which makes space vehicles. He is also CEO at Tesla, which makes electric vehicles. And he also happens to be chairman for SolarCity, which produces solar panels.

He's working with Tesla to produce electric cars (thus refining the battery and electric efficiency technologies) and working with SolarCity to produce solar panels (thus improving the efficiency of that energy source).

What would be the best, most efficient and cheapest way to power a ship in space, in the solar system ?

The space industry isn't something big yet, mainly because of the entry cost versus the potential benefits. But this guy has interests everywhere he needs to in order to be the first one in line when the entry cost drops low enough for it to be profitable (and is seemingly working to make this happen during his own lifetime).

At the very least, the suggestion of space is not that far-fetched.

RE: Buy Tesla
By Doken44 on 5/27/2013 11:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point, but propulsion is the largest energy need for a space ship. Are you suggesting that there is an electric propulsion method that is feasible for something of the size of a manned space ship?

RE: Buy Tesla
By Shadowself on 5/28/2013 8:51:48 AM , Rating: 2
Electric propulsion exists and has been utilized in space for many years. The problem with it is not its efficiency (it's as much as a factor of 1,000x more efficient than any chemical rocket motor). It's that the thrust is so low. Electric thrusters do not have enough thrust to get something off the ground -- and may not for a few decades.

As far as manned? Once in space you could gang enough of the electric thrusters together to get the thrust you need for movement in space. (Even breaking orbit or entering orbit is a small fraction of that needed to get off the ground.)

RE: Buy Tesla
By BRB29 on 5/28/2013 9:19:47 AM , Rating: 2
Ion engines have their places in long distance travel because they have plenty of time to accelerate. I don't think it will ever be able to launch something into orbit from earth.

I think the laser launching platform and orbital elevator are both pretty cool ideas.

We've already figured out how to negate gravity. The problem is the device takes up the space of a large room and massive amount electricity. It makes an antigravity field of less than 1 cubic foot lol.

RE: Buy Tesla
By SPOOFE on 5/28/2013 3:25:41 AM , Rating: 2
What would be the best, most efficient and cheapest way to power a ship in space, in the solar system ?

Nuclear power, and at that point, solar panels might not be worth the weight.

But it's a great option for satellites or Musk's upcoming Moobase I.

RE: Buy Tesla
By Shadowself on 5/28/2013 9:05:10 AM , Rating: 2
True, the only way to get the megawatts needed to do significant thrust today is with nuclear. Solar may get there eventually, but not today. (Note that space qualified solar cells are less efficient that those we talk about with regard to a terrestrial basis. Add to this the fact that solar cells degrade in space at a rate of 1% - 3% a year and things start to look not so great for space solar.)

Additionally, once you get beyond Mars, solar quickly becomes a non viable option. Once past Saturn, solar is almost useless for anything. (While total solar radiation is about 1,360 W/m^2 at the Earth's orbit; at Mars' orbit its about 585 W/m^2; and then it's only about 15 W/m^ at Saturn's orbit.) Knock these down by a factor of four for space solar cell efficiencies, and you start to see how bad solar is much beyond Mars.

RE: Buy Tesla
By m51 on 5/28/2013 11:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately Nuclear is not cheap at all. Nuclear thermal rockets are well developed and tested, but never flown. They are high thrust/high efficiency engines.

Nuclear Electric propulsion however has a considerably lower power to weight ratio than Solar electric propulsion (inside Mars orbit). Further from the sun and some type of nuclear power is the only viable option. Although there is a solar powered satellite orbiting jupiter, the solar array is huge and the power is constrained.

Current space grade solar cells degrade at less than 1% per year. They are also quite efficient, with current space grade panels operating above 30% efficiency.

The power grid is still a major hurdle
By quiksilvr on 5/27/13, Rating: 0
RE: The power grid is still a major hurdle
By Mint on 5/27/2013 12:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
The grid will pose minimal problems for EVs, because they mostly charge at night, while superchargers will be used mainly when you need to go on long trips. It's simply more convenient to plug in at home than make a stop somewhere and do something for an hour (although the Spark EV claims 80% in 20 minutes, so that could change things).

The grid has plenty of unused capacity at night. If anything, use of that idle capacity will make electricity generation more efficient and cheaper.

It's also going to take decades for EVs to replace the bulk of the 200m cars on the road. There's no imminent issue here. If we get 10 million EVs on the road by 2020 (which is very optimistic), and they do 12k miles per year, they'll consume less than 1% of the nation's electricity production.

By Shig on 5/27/2013 1:17:16 PM , Rating: 3
Musk has a solution for the power grid too, it's called SolarCity (up 400% YTD). The power grid is already starting to change in California as solar pv is shaving off most of peak demand during the hot afternoons and the incumbent utilities are freaking out.

EV for the masses
By StormyKnight on 5/29/2013 1:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
If Musk wants to sell EVs to the general population, he has to price it competitively with ICE vehicles. Not only priced competitively, but also can compete with ICE vehicles as well. No ifs, ands or buts. I have a 2013 Malibu LT2. I drive conservatively and average between 31-34mpg combined. Granted, that is 85% highway driving, but it gives me roughly 573 to 629 miles per fill up. You come at me with a mid-sized electric sedan at or under $25,000 with the same range as my ICE Malibu, you have my business. Until then, EVs are merely electric toys for greenie wealthy types.

RE: EV for the masses
By I800C0LLECT on 5/29/2013 2:22:53 AM , Rating: 2
2012 Passat TDI SE, starting at $26,225

One couple achieved ~1600 miles and 84.1mpg on a single tank.

2012 Fuelly averages are 40.1mpg and 2013 are 39.9mpg

By mars2k on 5/28/2013 9:46:28 PM , Rating: 3
What happened to all the rabid right wing republican nutbags when mention of public money is paid back? I might also add ahead of schedule as well. Money well spent in my book.

Why is it that those dingbats think its ok to dump money subsidizing big oil and defense and not things like this?

Man up admit your wrong and maybe even a bit delusional. Oops, sorry, no maybe to it.

By Richard875yh5 on 5/29/2013 8:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
Tesla's success is going to Musk head. If he thinks GM and Ford is going to sit still while they watch him surpass them, then he's greatly mistaken. I don't even think he can survive long term w/o merging with a big company.

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