How radical will the model 3 be?

How radical will the model 3 be?

How radical will the model 3 be? I saw a video of a gathering of model S owners at the detroit car show. In it Elon says that they plan for the model 3 to have a radical design. So the question is what aspects of the design will be radical? The power train? The driver assist?, the motor placements?, the body?, the ownership model?, the financing? The batteries?, the wheelbase?

What could he be thinking about?

Tesla coil charge connection?
4 motor drive system?
4 body types, coup, sedan, van, suv, all interchangeable on the one scalable drive sled.
Fully fly by wire?
Full screen HUD
Mini wings to reduce rolling resistance?
What might the Tesla team call radical?

Elon thinks he will have a first concept for model 3 in 2016. | 6 juin 2015

Make that 2015

Brian H | 8 juin 2015

Double counting. I'm not sure you get 30% less cost and 30% more efficient together for a given kWh rating. Pick one.

grega | 8 juin 2015

@laska08, That car looks very nice. But that's very sporty, and with everything Tesla has said I don't think it's the target they're going for with their "more accessible" car.

I do think it's on the roadmap though. IIRC they've said they want to put a sports design on the same Gen3 skateboard... which means they've got their initial release, their more radical/interesting version, plus a sports design down the track somewhere.

However, if the gigafactory won't be ready when the platform is ready to go (and thus they can't handle the expected demand), then putting a higher priced sports design out first would make sense. Showcase the electric high performance, for a price higher than the Model ≡ but lower than the Roadster.

Red Sage ca us | 9 juin 2015

georgehawley wrote, "GF battery cells 30 % more efficient and 30% less expensive than today's 18650s."

Brian H wrote, "I'm not sure you get 30% less cost and 30% more efficient together for a given kWh rating."

If anything, that's being rather conservative. Remember that more than once JB Straubel noted he observed an increase in energy density of ~40% between the introduction of the Tesla Roadster in 2007 and the release of Model S in 2012. I am presuming that is what is meant by 'efficiency' in this instance.

The 30% cost reduction that Elon speaks of is related to the full process of getting a complete battery pack ready for a car. JB was speaking of individual battery cells within a battery pack. And JB did say that observed improvement affected pricing at the same rate.

The idea is that for a given kWh total, you need more of the 2007 battery cells than of the 2012 battery cells. Thus, a kWh total achieved from 1,000 battery cells in 2012, might have required ~1,667 battery cells in 2007. And, with luck, would only require 600 battery cells in 2017.

The improvement in energy density may not be that substantial. But I strongly suspect that Model ≡ will debut with at least a 60 kWh battery pack. And upon close examination, I believe Elon and JB would love to deliver a 3,500 lbs dual motor AWD car with a 100 kWh battery pack as standard for only $35,000.

JeffreyR | 9 juin 2015

@Red Sage +1
"The 30% cost reduction that Elon speaks of is related to the full process of getting a complete battery pack ready for a car."

The 30% cost savings that Elon and JBS have mentioned is a minimum because they know that taxes, tariffs, and shipping costs will go down and manufacturing efficiency, economies of scale, and design refinements will improve for production in the Gigafactory. The Model ≡ may not reach the 100 kWh standard battery pack. But, it will start around $35K and likely knock the S60's performance and range out of the park, even if the base BP is "only" 60 kWh. That's thanks to it's smaller size and weight, and all the lessons learned from the Model S and Model X.

We have already seen Model S 60 -> Model S/X 70D in only a few (3) years.

It makes sense that the base for the Model ≡ should get better except that Tesla is also trying to cut the price of the car in half. But I am sure we will see Model ≡ base -> Model ≡/Y (cross-over) base+15% in a few (3) years too.

I am not as optimistic as @Red Sage (than again who is?), so I wonder if the M≡ will have a smaller BP than the MS if only to save costs and further differentiate them.

Red Sage ca us | 9 juin 2015

Since Generation III is the goal, not an afterthought, Elon won't mind one whit if sales of Model ≡ are so brisk they have to discontinue Model S and Model X. That would be a victory, not a failure. Still, it's nice to have the option of larger vehicles in the lineup, even if their sales are marginalized, because the profit generated per unit is worth it. Though Elon does want to retain a 'full line' of vehicles, he doesn't intend to 'protect' sales of Model S.

grega | 9 juin 2015

If Tesla could give up making ONE ModelS in order to make ONE Model ≡, they'll favour the more profitable car - the ModelS.

Shutting down the whole ModelS line is similar. Sure if it disabling 50k modelS world enable 500k Model3s, but it wouldn't.

Iowa92x | 9 juin 2015

The masses do not like exotic, the 3 will be as wild as a BMW 3 series.

Timo | 10 juin 2015

GWh not gWh.

70kWh on average for 500k cars would mean 50% 60kWh and 50% 80kWh. Why would you think that 60kWh is the biggest possible? I expect Model 3 to have quite a few options more than Model S has. It has bigger customer base, so more variation in needs too.

grega | 10 juin 2015

I misread that too. He said the BASE model couldn't be bigger than 70kWh.

laska08 | 10 juin 2015

@grega, you may be correct on the eclipse being too sporty but a little bit of a sporty design if it is just cosmetics shouldn't cost any more than a more generic, conservative appearance. Now if at the same $35,000 price there is more demand for a more conservative look then yes I agree they should go that route. I think the eclipse type look would be popular to younger millenials, a demographic that embraces new technology, but will it be big enough to fill the gigafactory output. I was sort of thinking hit the 16-35 with gen 3, then hit the suburban soccer mom/family with the Honda odyssey style minivan, and then the huge pickup market with something like the Tundra. On the pickup, i think it would be a mistake to go to a sleek, futuristic, urban look as most pickup owners want the feel of ruggedness. | 11 juin 2015

@Brian: improvements to cell design including changes to electrodes, separator and chemistry need not add cost. Most of the "at least 30%" savings anticipated by Elon for gigafactory cells will be derived from the logistics of local production as opposed to shipments from Asia. They may also lower cost by reducing or eliminating Panasonic overhead costs. IMO It is most certainly feasible to have one's cake and eat it in this case.

laska08 | 13 juin 2015
Red Sage ca us | 13 juin 2015

500,000 units x 70,000 = 35,000,000,000

350,000 units x 70,000 Wh = 24,500,000,000

105,000 units x 100,000 Wh = 10,500,000,000

The perception of 'ruggedness' for a truck design of any size has changed a lot in the past 35 or 40 years. Today's big rigs are sleeker than ever before. By the time a Tesla Model P pickup truck is revealed circa 2020, and begins manufacture around 2022, even the revered Ford F-Series will look considerably different than the chassis that debuted around 2001.

Bubba2000 | 13 juin 2015

Tesla will have to take advantage of the simplicity of the BEV and come up with an efficient light design for the Model 3. It can not be just another brute force armored Model S type desing that weighs 4647 lbs. The simplicity of the EV should allow for low cost design. Tesla can not match BMW, Toyota in terms of component costs, so it will have to use less.

I wonder if Elon can reduce costs of Model 3 like he did with SpaceX. If course, the auto manufacturers are not as bloated as the aerospace industry, so competitive cost cutting will be tough.

Red Sage ca us | 13 juin 2015

All the cost reductions at Tesla Motors are done as they are at SpaceX, by way of integrated vertical supply chains. Sheet metal goods in one end of Fremont, and cars come out the other. Raw materials will go in one end of the Gigafactory, and battery packs will come out the other.

I expect the Tesla Model ≡ will tip the scales at ~3,600 lbs in base, RWD trim. It will likely be no more than ~3,900 lbs in fully loaded AWD trim. That would put it squarely within the range of vehicle sizes for the BMW 3-Series.

grega | 14 juin 2015

"500,000 units x 70,000 = 35,000,000,000

350,000 units x 70,000 Wh = 24,500,000,000

105,000 units x 100,000 Wh = 10,500,000,000"<<
What is your maths for?

adamgreen | 14 juin 2015

@cmcnestt Thanks. I think rwd and game-changingly low price should be the priorities. I'd suggest a vehicle that's city-centric, maybe not even given access to the already congested SuperCharger Station network, so it doesn't have the "free electricity for life" cost built in. Uncompromising safety. Insanely low price with an insanerly low lease cost accessible to anyone. I'm think $25K. Seriously! Why not?
That price point and commensurate content would not appeal to a S 70D buyer, so there's a pretty clear-cut delineation between models, and the flag ship(s) products (X and S, both in P85D variants) bring the cutting edge performance and technology to market.
Low end hybrid sales are declining. A Model 3 at the price point of a Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, etc., would eat their lunch right off their sales forecasts and Tesla would become a household name in more homes than the current demographic of comfortable folk with a curiosity for "that whole green thing." : )

carlgo2 | 14 juin 2015

No expectation of radical battery or motor technology. Better is not "radical" unless it is better by a huge leap and that ain't happening.

Same for exotic materials. Not yet.

Maybe falcon doors. I hope.

Or, power tool-like battery swapping. Waiting for charges seems old fashioned to me, except for home charging.

John Northey | 14 juin 2015

The only radical thing that comes to mind for me is the side mirrors being cameras which they tried to do for the Model X but might have enough lead time to do for the Model 3 (legal hurdles and the like). I know I love the concept.

If they push the price below $30,000 that would be amazing and we'd see sales well beyond what they could build. I hope they keep the supercharger network as part of it as it needs further expansion - maybe make it an option instead of mandatory to get that initial 'wow' price.

johnse | 14 juin 2015

The Model 3 needs to be able to replace ICE usage for those who are not already enamored of EVs nor willing to make big compromises in their usage patterns.

To me this says that Supercharger access is critical. Furthermore, I think those of us who have (or will have) S and X models need to stop thinking so proprietarily of the SC network. That network is not just a way to get the high priced cars to travel long distances. They are a stake in the ground establishing Tesla's presence in the new version of the gas station. While the SCs don't currently have a mechanism for billing for their usage, SCs will, I predict, evolve to where they still provide Tesla cars with free charging, but also offer for-pay charging of other cars.

This will mean that they will need to become much larger and more numerous, but I think that is where the long game takes us. | 15 juin 2015

@johnse: sound thinking and not as big a challenge as cost. To achieve a $35K price point just with today's not so hot gross profit margin of about 27%, Tesla will have to achieve a product cost of under $25,600 including batteries. With uncompromising attention to quality, performance, range and safety I don't think they can hit that price point as posted earlier.

I don't believe that competing with Hyundai et al. Is realistic. I think they will be challenged to compete with the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Lexus ES and RX and the MB C-class., a total U.S. Market of somewhere around 500,000 cars per year. That will be a tough group to make a dent in to the tune of 100K plus per year. But, as with the MS, Tesla may enlarge the potential market by reaching folks who stretch their budget to own the best car in its class in the world today.

MarlonBrown | 15 juin 2015

I did read Elon saying he will not experiment radical designs on the Model ||| in order to meet the deadline.

What I believe we might see, knowing Elon and Tesla, is a car design offering subtle and appealing luxury sports comfort with simplicity in the design. Think about it, the electrical Tesla drive train could allow a sedan with a low front trunk. I think car will be wide in the back offering a nice luxury car appeal, not that cheap junk look like a Hyundai or Ford. I think it should come standard with Xeon lights but if price doesn't allow it, totally understandable coming as an option to upgrade it. The windows should offer ample visibility, not those small windows that people now are using like in the cheap Benz Class A. 250 miles range is great since it is at getaways distance that I need on the weekend.

The interior I think is going to be a riot. It will be Simple to keep costs down. Based on the photos of the Model X I like the interior design and I think it will follow those lines.

I believe the first version will be offered in rear drive only, but remember a Tesla drive train using rear traction should be able to match or exceed performance of combustion wheel drives out there.

I hope the retracted door handles will be preserved. I imagine car will be made of steel.

if Tesla delivers a car using the elements I will be the first one ordering one. Problem is that I expect car to be sold out for one year in few days.

carlgo2 | 15 juin 2015

"Radical" is often used to describe the use of futuristic engineering or materials.

Radical could also mean an unexpected application of known technologies resulting in a car that is considerable better than expected for the price.

It could be that Gigafactory batteries will be cheap and that relatively conventional mid-sized car bodies produced with the most up to date production technology will combine to allow for a radically compelling car for $35K.

MarlonBrown | 15 juin 2015

Cargo2, it would be great if we could see carbon fiber used here, but for a car under $40k, I am afraid not even Tesla can do it.

There is no major breakthrough in the batteries yet.

I am saying guys, a true good taste can get us a car like most of us, men lovers of compact sedans have been waiting for years. I am a BMW 3 series owner and this current model of beamers are the closest to what I like.
I look at the mini year 2005 model and I see those big windows and a simple body, rounded look at the edges.

That is the type of element we need to see.