A compact car ?

A compact car ?

I think that for Tesla, a good thing to do would be to create and sell a new model which should be a compact car. People really want these kind of cars more and more. With the technology that Tesla is able to give to their cars, that compact car would be far ahead of the competition. About 80% of the popular electric cars are compact cars. So with, let's say, the Model C, Tesla is going to get popular and is going to have a lot of sales all around the world because compact cars are the most popular i Europe and Asia.

Is it a good idea for the brand ? Give your opinion!

evanstumpges | 06. Oktober 2012

I'd love to see a compact Tesla hatchback model. Similar in size to the leaf, but with Tesla's genius touch, beautiful styling, and better performance all around.

Timo | 06. Oktober 2012

Tesla has a compact car out there. They call it The Roadster.

Seriously, Tesla needs to go from top to bottom in order to survive. Everyone trying that other way around has failed. With GenIII you will get something that could be called a compact car, but not subcompact. Then they are large enough to build 100k+ cars / year which is required for low margin compact car to be profitable.

Brian H | 06. Oktober 2012

Timo +1
TM is running as fast as it can ...

TeslaSam | 06. Oktober 2012

Actually, Timo is right but the idea of a compact car is a plan that would be good in a few years. It's a fast and "across the world" economic project that demands a strong company base.

TeslaCrush | 06. Oktober 2012

Right now supply is a main issue so they pretty much need to keep volume under control for now. Also, there is more profit margin per options and accessories than the base vehicle. This is one of the biggest reasons you can't get a stripped down Camaro or Mustang. I think they are going about it in a practical manner by selling the power-trains to Toyota and Daimler. I think they are working on the Smart Car and a small MB to come out around 2014. This will increase their sales of course and give them more experience and vetting. A downside though is slower Tesla brand recognition. Toyota seems fond of using other maker's power plants like the Triumph (aka Prius gen I), Subaru Boxer in the Scion FRS and now Tesla power in the RAV 4 EV. Come to think of it an FRS and/or BRZ with Tesla Power would be a nice entry level sports car.

Timo | 06. Oktober 2012

To both Tesla..., Tesla master plan has always been this:

1) build a very expensive niche target car
...and use money from that to...
2) build practical luxury car to bigger target group
...and use money from that to...
3) build an affordable car to rest of us.

That's the plan in a nutshell.

That step 3 is referred as GenIII here (generation III). Generation III will be a platform to many different car types, not just the affordable car, but main point is that you will get that affordable compact car pretty soon after Model S (in couple of years, my bet is at late 2015 or early 2016).

Brian H | 06. Oktober 2012

Some outlets are hyping the collapse of the EV market and cancellation of EV plans by the Majors, world-wide. I don't know to what extent that is true, but if it is it's because none have broken the Range Barrier like Tesla has. (Probably there are a couple of Range Barriers, and the SuperCharge network takes aim at the second, longer one.)

People aren't prepared to pay more for a car that can't go very far (unless they have the Save The World bug). So 60-100 mi. range cars don't cut it (unless they're cheap). TM couldn't do "cheap", so it did "long", but no one else could pull it off.

Anyhow, the combo of Model S and SuperCharge world-wide will (IMO) reverse that trend.

up north | 07. Oktober 2012

Nova ss size with model s performance upgrade and all the 21st century goodies.

bsimoes | 07. Oktober 2012

I wonder if this is a cart-before-the-horse scenario. I think we started to see compact cars with the oil crisis in the 70's. I always thought they were put on the market to save on gas; they're lighter and can go farther on a tank of gas. If they cost the same to run and went the same distance as a bigger and safer car, I'd question how popular they would be.

jerry3 | 07. Oktober 2012


Bigger does not mean safer.

TeslaSam | 07. Oktober 2012

Well, bsimoes, in Europe (I don't know if you've been there or if you live there), you'll rarely see an SUV or a pick-up truck. It is so rare and I've talk to Europeans and they're not buying a car for the same reasons as here. They want a little practical car, who can do average distances, practical in cities and it's got to be affordable. Model S and Roadster are good for Europe but Model X isn't much. That's why in genIII, a Model C would really be a good move for TM. So, yes the compact cars are economic but they certainly are practical and trendy.

Timo | 07. Oktober 2012

It's also because in Europe we have a bit longer history behind the roads. Streets are narrower and some city centers would be nightmarish to drive in big US SUV. H*ll, you can hardly drive in some of the streets with SmartForTwo. Everything is more closely packed for majority of the Europe compared to US.

Small and agile cars are highly valued here. Big does not mean better in here, and safety has not direct mental connection to size. In fact it's more like big = clumsy = unsafe.

European cars have always been smaller (in general) than US cars. My father had a Triumph Herald 13/60 when I was younger, he sold it when it got too small for our family (and dogs and...). Now I wish he hadn't sold it because it was so fun for a car. Not especially fast but turned on a dime and accelerated nicely. All US cars of that era were quite a bit larger if my memory servers me correctly.

Brian H | 08. Oktober 2012

In the US, bigger does mean safer (fatalities per crash). Physics rulez! Bet the same stats exist (if you could dig them out) for Autobahns.

evanstumpges | 08. Oktober 2012


A compact car would be lighter and smaller than the Model S, so it should be able to drive more efficiently, which would mean lower costs to run. Granted, the energy cost difference would likely be fairly minimal since this is already extremely low with the Model S.

Thus far, I think Tesla has demonstrated a good strategy for their vehicle roadmap, but assuming they are still around in the next 5 years (sure hope so), I think a compact car could make a lot of sense. Not everyone needs a full sized sedan, let alone an SUV, but they often need something more practical than the Roadster. A compact hatchback fits the bill and consumes fewer natural resources (i.e. more sustainable but still meets the needs of many consumers).

DHrivnak | 08. Oktober 2012

I am holding out for a car smaller than the model S and Tesla plans to make that with the Generation III. So until then I will just have to drive my Roadster ;)

Timo | 09. Oktober 2012

For Brian, fatalities / crash doesn't count how many crashes were avoided completely. Or what happened to that other party in that crash. Speed kills when there is a crash, so it doesn't count low speed collisions either. Smaller is more agile and can avoid crashes easier than larger and clumsier car. A compact car (not sub-compact) is a great compromise between safety (by size) and agility. Not quite completely without protection like a bike, and not too big and cumbersome to have too long braking distances to avoid rear-ending other cars in pile-up.

Of course if you drive a tank, it would not matter (to you) if you collide with a car. OTOH if you manage to flip that tank over you still get hurt.

Brian H | 09. Oktober 2012

Don't have EU stats, but I suspect the issue is academic, there, given the "tight quarters" in urban streets. Roads designed for foot traffic, horses, and such impose constraints.

But I suspect Autobahn pile-ups provide some interesting data!

TeslaSam | 09. Oktober 2012

Autobahn is one of the safest road on earth, it's not free for all, it's really strict and organized.

olanmills | 09. Oktober 2012

"People really want these kind of cars more and more."

I think the main reason people want these kinds of cars more and more is to improve fuel economy, not because they actually want a car that is physically smaller.

"About 80% of the popular electric cars are compact cars."

Hence, there is the advantage of differentiating by offering a large sedan.

Tiebreaker | 09. Oktober 2012
Brian H | 09. Oktober 2012

50 yrs difference in tech and design and materials. Apples and apples, please?

TeslaSam | 10. Oktober 2012

olanmills, it's true that Tesla is original with a Sedan but, for future large selling the cars have to be affordable like a compact and trendy for the big buyers like Europe and Asia. The big thing right there are the compact cars, as always. Except that Buick is a larger seller in China than in the states.

Tiebreaker | 10. Oktober 2012

Brian, correct. That is the point.

Volker.Berlin | 12. Oktober 2012

TeslaSam, recommended reading:

Elon hat the same idea in 2006 already, and is still following through on it. You may also want to read this thread:

jerry3 | 12. Oktober 2012


If bigger was safer then the 6,000 pound cars of the fifties and sixties would be the safest vehicles around. However, bigger isn't safer. If you take a McLaren and an Explorer and run both into a tree at 100 mph, you stand a really good chance of surviving in the McLaren. Not so much in the Explorer. Yet the McLaren weighs far less.

Good engineering and strength of materials is what creates safe vehicles--not being bigger.

Timo | 13. Oktober 2012

It's also the damage bigger car makes to others. You survive, but the poor fellow in that other car might not. It's not all about you, you know.

Brian H | 13. Oktober 2012

Apples and apples; given the same level of engineering --

Good luck selling a car on the basis of "less likely to hurt the other guy in a head-on".

And the McLaren is a racecar, built to cocoon the driver in a (highly probable) crash. Plus it costs far more. Apples and grapes, again.

ManuVince | 15. Oktober 2012

That compact car exists already, it is stylish and fairly priced : it's the Renault Zoe.
I think Tesla would be very unwise to try to compete with Renault on compact car ground. By the time they get down there with their top down approach, Renault will be at their second EV in that category.

Timo | 15. Oktober 2012

Zoe has tiny battery compared to Tesla. Also it is really small and falls into category of subcompact instead of compact. I think Tesla "compact car" will be closer to VW Golf than Zoe.

IOW rather normal car, not tiny but not large either. Considering how much better engineered Tesla cars are than anything traditional car manufacturers have made this far I believe that Tesla will do rather well in compact car section.

I think Elon said in some interview that GenIII will be basically "smaller version of Model S".

Brian H | 15. Oktober 2012

And isn't Renault hooked up in that moribund arrangement with Better Place? Wonder how keen it'll be about EVs after the scorching they may take on that deal.

ManuVince | 16. Oktober 2012

@ Timo, ah ok my bad, I have the wrong scale, for me a Audi A3 is a normal car, and an A4 a big car. If we talk A3/Golf size, then yes I agree with you that Tesla would do a great job, and I'm hoping the GenIII will be in that category.

@ Brian H, yeah the better place thing looks like it is near its death. That said, there are some indication that the Zoe will be a big success in Europe, where subcompact market is big, and range for that category is less important. contrary to all the other sub compact EV, the Zoe looks quite good, it has the best range of all, and is fairly cheap (20k euros + battery rental). In france with the 7000 euro subsidy (subsidy not tax credit, people buying those don't pay much tax) price goes down to 13k (+ battery rental) less than a Clio. Renault is pretty keen on EVs, they have 4 models already, the Zoe was their main attraction at the Paris motor show.

jat | 19. Oktober 2012

The Zoe isn't reasonably priced at all -- when you count that you didn't buy the battery but are leasing it an much more than it would cost to buy gas, then it doesn't look like a good deal at all. Compare the price to buying a car without the engine and leasing that.

Also, the mechanical constraints of having an interchangeable battery means it takes up much of your trunk space and sits relatively high off the ground, giving you a much higher CoG than the Model S or the LEAF which have the batteries along the floor.

danielccc | 19. Oktober 2012

But the Zoe battery lease does not cost more than gas! This is Europe we are talking about. Gas is like $8 a gallon. The Zoe battery lease costs what, 12 gallons of gas? 14? Anybody driving more than 6000 km per year (not quite 4,000 miles), breaks even.

I think the Zoe will be Ghosn's first EV success and will sell very, very well in Europe and some other markets.

The advantage of running two companies and being committed to EVs is that he is trying a variety of approaches both in design and sales models. Carlos Ghosn believes in diversity as a management principle.

It's an approach opposite Elon Musk's, which could be described as "do it perfect exactly like I want it" (also the Steve Jobs way). I think both approaches have a place. A startup like Tesla can't do the kind of global trial and error that Renault-Nissan is doing. And a large global alliance like Renault-Nissan can't bet the farm on a single approach imposed on the far flung divisions of the company.

What is interesting is that clearly Ghosn is just as serious about EV development as Musk. This isn't true for any other large auto CEO that I am aware of.

Volker.Berlin | 22. Oktober 2012

danielccc +1, you cannot separate the Zoe (or Better Place) from the person Carlos Ghosn. I completely agree, he is a very different personality than Elon Musk, but equally serious about the electric car, and definitely standing out from the crowd of old-school ICE top managers.

up north | 23. Oktober 2012

id like to see the tesla gen 111 compete in looks with the 2014 cadillac electric elr coupe based on the volt, but it will have gen 11 batteries with more range and speed. the tesla will have much more electric range,handle better, and have superiour exceloration.

up north | 31. Oktober 2012

could tesla use the same skateboard frame for the gen 111 as they use on the model s. model s 116 wheelbase about 45" rear overhang from rear axel about 35" for the front overhang for 196". if they use the same wheelbase on the gen 111 with 35" rear overhang and 29" front overhang, that would be 180" the same lenth as c class and 3 series.

Timo | 31. Oktober 2012

Generation three / gen 3 / gen III will not be same platform as Model S. That's why it is called Gen III, it will be their third platform. AFAIK it will be quite a bit smaller than Model S.

This does not mean they stop producing Model S platform -based models (like Model X), just that there will be smaller cars as well.

up north | 31. Oktober 2012

my question is why cant you build a smaller car on the model s platform.

Timo | 31. Oktober 2012

Platform is too big. That's why.

David70 | 01. November 2012

To elaborate on Timo's statement. With that skateboard, the wheelbase can't be any shorter.

up north | 02. November 2012

you only have to cut the overhangs not the wheelbase.

Tiebreaker | 02. November 2012

You may also want to cut weight, therefore shorter skateboard. :-)

Timo | 03. November 2012

Front overhang gives you aerodynamics (front is really round if you look at it from up), from rear you can cut a bit, but only a bit. You would still have rather huge car. Very wide and long.

sandeepa | 13. November 2012

Likes a Compact car just for budget reasons.
Likes to buy a Roadster/Sedan.
Driving in traffic to my work place!?,car a weekend adventure.

Looking 4 smart Personnel Rapid Transport system/Driver-less cars.

up north | 13. November 2012

in interview with motor trend elon said he was most keen to bring to market the gen 111 mass market auto. i'm most keen on buying one, older blue collar waiting. show us something.

Brian H | 13. November 2012

You'll have to arrange to survive more than 4 yrs to get your hands on one, though you may be able to reserve about 2015 or so.