The Tesla Model C: Unofficial compact Tesla

The Tesla Model C: Unofficial compact Tesla

While CEO Elon Musk has dropped hints here and there, Derjan Hristov, who envisions the Model C as Tesla’s entry into the affordable compact car market, came up with this design.

Timo | 7 november 2012

Really unofficial. That looks like offspring of Renault Twizy married with Nissan Micra. I very much doubt that Tesla would do anything that ugly.

Brian H | 7 november 2012

Silly design. It's a 2½-seater, and the GenIII is to be a general-purpose family car, 4-door, with seating for 4 or 5. This isn't even in the right category.

Carl Barlev | 14 november 2012

Perhaps not what Tesla has in mind for their entry into the mass market, but I wouldn't call it "Ugly" or "Silly". Everybody has their own taste and requirements - that's why we have over 350 different models to choose from.

When my Model S arrives next year, it will be the first car I've owned in over 7 years... I raised the bar after my last car back in 2005 and since then no car has passed the mark. But then along came Tesla and the Tesla Model S :)

About time too, it's damned hard work lugging the kids around behind my bicycle (hybrid-electric). Not sure I'd manage three (we've got another bun in the oven)!

Brian H | 14 november 2012

I advise you to cut down on your food intake as soon as you get your S. That "damned hard work" could be using up to thousands of calories a day!

Carl Barlev | 16 november 2012

Good point Brian!

I can put the extra cash from our significantly reduced food bills towards our increased power bill :)

Brian H | 16 november 2012

Yeah; bicycles are very efficient transport, but getting the human body up into the passenger-carrying output ranges is another story.

Timo | 17 november 2012

Use electric-assisted bicycle :-)

I have vague memory of someone calculating that light electric vehicle (like electric scooter) uses less energy to move one person from place a to place b than this same person cycling that same distance. Biological systems are not energy efficient, just very versatile.

That would mean that this extra energy you use to move with bicycle requires you to increase your food intake and that "pollutes" more than creating electricity for that same trip. Especially if you are not vegetarian (as much as I like good beef, meat is wasteful foodproduct). Long tailpipe argument against humans ;-P

Brian H | 17 november 2012

Well, it was only by early increase in efficiency of getting nutrition by eating meat that allowed any time to do stuff besides eating and plucking that allowed any development at all. Even pandas eat meat if they stumble across it, for that reason.

Same with all primates. Chimps and monkeys eat defeated/killed rivals in battles over gathering territory. We've long evolved to make use of meat ingredients, hard to replace with pure plant nutrients. Especially fish oils and so on; we seem to have depended on shallow-water shellfish and fish for some time.

Timo | 17 november 2012

Chimps actually actively hunt smaller primates and other small animals. Bonobos are a bit more peaceful species.

Humans have been hunter-gatherers for a long long time. Hunting is actually quite easy for very long range runner like human, especially with some pack coordination, your prey just runs out of juice before you do.

Because of that best selection of food would be meat (or fish) and fruits and nuts. No farmed food grains or dairy products. Unfortunately growing those in modern world would be extremely inefficient land usage.

danielccc | 17 november 2012

I don't see a point in calling this car ugly or not. It doesn't do anything for me but then again it probably does for others.

But what we can say is that it has no design language in common with Tesla, and that it does not meet the product profile either.

When a designer presents something that has so little connection with what it's supposed to be, it sounds to me like someone trying to show their own ideas but leveraging a brand name to get more hits.

Taking the opposite tack of simply adapting the Model S lines to a smaller size (~ 182"), I did a bit of scaling and stretching in Photoshop:

Uploaded with

I would expect the Gen III to be created using this kind of approach (typical of Audi and BMW).

Brian H | 17 november 2012

Yeah, does look quite a bit less streaky.

Timo | 18 november 2012

IIRC Elon actually said in one of the interviews that GenIII "affordable car" will be basically just smaller version on Model S.

Hobbes824 | 18 november 2012

I personally hoped the Model C would be a true 4-5 seater coupe with sporty lines and wide falcon doors for ease of rear seat entry. I would have pegged a Model V for a value oriented model. On a suggestion side that I'm sure had been mentioned, I would consider in car storage and cup holders for rear seat passengers. For an entry level model, a shooting brake design might be nice as it would add a different look to the brand.

danielccc | 18 november 2012

I think a 5 seater coupe could be built essentially on the Model S platform, and may be.

The gen III is a smaller platform, but a "value oriented" is not the right way to think about it, unless you think a BMW 3 series is value oriented. The target price for the gen III is to start at $30,000, so it would be priced from $30,000 to $60,000. This is entry level luxury.

It would also be an important car internationally, as the Model S is really too big to be practical in much of Europe and Asia, and too expensive for developing markets.

A small hatchback in the VW Golf class would be difficult with current batteries. Such a vehicle would most likely have a higher drag coefficient, working against a smaller battery pack. Good range is harder in small electrics.

This is why I think Tesla will produce smaller, but not small any time soon.

Brian H | 19 november 2012


A side note, the MS is likely to do very well in developing countries, as the early to middle stages have lotsa new wealth, and status/conspicuous consumption is a big deal.

Rodolfo Paiz | 19 november 2012

The Model S has current owners of the BMW 5-series and similar cars directly in its sights. Look especially at the 535/550 Gran Turismo hatchbacks and you'll see a lot of resemblance between that car and the Model S.

My guess is that Tesla's desire to gradually increase volume while also lowering the car's price will lead them to make the Gen-3 car a direct competitor to the BMW 3-series. Same interior as the Model S, same general lines, just a more compact chassis that seats four comfortably with a reasonable amount of trunk space.

Assuming Tesla is successful in selling a rapidly-increasing number of cars each year, a key contributor to Tesla's profitability will be parts commonality and the reduction in unit costs gained by economies of scale. The Gen-3 car should share as many parts as possible with the S and the X while also being different enough to attract as many new buyers as possible to Tesla.

Charlie K. | 7 november 2013

I'm a little late to the party here, but I would love to see a car like this from Tesla. I absolutely agree that there are certain challenges with producing a smaller car in the hatchback category, but Tesla is nothing if not fantastic at completing seemingly impossible challenges.

The appropriate car to compare this to is now the BMW i3. The i3 is a also a hatchback (though slightly larger than this) and it's got impressive range for the size of it's battery pack (100mi with a 22kWh pack). I have to believe that Tesla could easily double this range and still produce a car with the same price-tag.

I believe this kind of car has large appeal to progressive families-forward thinkers-who need a practical car. It would have a large trunk/frunk space, it would be feature rich, safe, and it would perform admirably; not for an electric car, but for a gas hatchback. Not to mention it would be fun. This kind of car stretches into a whole new demographic i.e. a younger one.

The i3 is reportedly doing very well in Europe so far, and BMW is anticipating increased production for its release in America. BMW also advertises the i3 as "the first electric vehicle to perform like a BMW". I think Tesla should prove that no vehicle performs like a Tesla.

RanjitC | 7 november 2013

I just saw the i3 in person at Schiphol airport, it's ugly. If the Gen 3/model C maintains the Model S looks and can go 150 miles it will win. The model S is not suitable for tiny european roads and parking spaces/garages.

Gas Killa | 9 november 2013

I was under the impression that the next gen model would be "E" for everyone. Then Tesla would have a product line with models S,E,X.

Brian H | 9 november 2013

You're about the 111,111st person to notice.

Timo | 9 november 2013

I'm pretty sure it wont be "U" for that reason.

Brian H | 9 november 2013

That would suck.