Five years after the first rumors of a cheaper Tesla, it’s time to take stock. Here’s everything we know about what probably won’t be called the Tesla Model 2, the compact $25,000 Tesla. Also known as Robotaxi, it could be announced this Wednesday, March 1, 2023 by Elon Musk.
Tesla is no longer a brand that needs to prove that its vehicles appeal to customers. In fact, with satisfaction ratings that are at the top of industry standards and sales that continue to regularly break records, current prices for the American firm’s electric cars make them easy recommendations.
However, the cheapest Tesla at the moment is still 44,990 euros (39,990 euros with the ecological bonus), and it is the Tesla Model 3 Propulsion. when we know thata new car in France is bought for less than 27,000 euros on averagethis inevitably makes Tesla very expensive.
It takes between €45,000 and €150,000 to own a Tesla, making these vehicles inaccessible to most buyers. At the start of the company, when it was only selling a few tens of thousands of Roadsters or Model S a year, this wasn’t really a problem.
But in 2023, with production capacity exceeding 2,000,000 units per year, it is time to offer vehicles that will sell in very large numbers.
In the United States, this will soon become a reality with the Cybertruck, which is attacking the famous segment of pick-ups, which are extremely popular vehicles on the other side of the Atlantic. But for Europe and Asia, these huge machines are still destined for a niche market, where the vast majority of people expect something more: a smaller Tesla.
We are going to return in detail to what is sometimes called Tesla Model 2, and which should be Elon Musk’s proposal to conquer the segment of electric urban cars. Between the rumors, the real need for a cheaper vehicle, and a potential release date, here’s everything we know about the Tesla Model 2.
The birth of a rumor
Tesla’s Masterplan does not currently speak of a car smaller than the Tesla Model 3, if we are to believe the summary proposed by Elon Musk in 2006:
- build a sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While you’re doing this, also provide emission-free electric power generation options.
The first stage of the plan was, therefore, to offer the original Tesla Roadster, the firm’s first electric car, and the second to offer the Tesla Model S. The third point then refers to the Tesla Model 3.which indeed turned out to be the brand’s most affordable vehicle.
The second part of the Masterplan was published in 2016, and the only hints of future vehicles concern pick-ups and semi-trailers segment. These two segments are about to be occupied by the manufacturer, which has already released its Tesla Semi, and which is about to make the famous Cybertruck available.
Officially, there is no indication of a new, smaller vehicle coming until an interview of Elon Musk by YouTuber Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) in August 20218. When asked about the possibility of a less expensive Tesla, Elon Musk responds whileWithout a doubt, there would be the possibility of producing a Tesla at 25,000 dollars (23,500 euros) in three years.and that was all it took to spark the $25,000 Tesla buzz.
As a reminder, the Tesla Model 3 was announced in April 2016 at a starting price of 35,000 dollarsand even if the latter existed for a time, the cheapest Tesla Model 3 in the US is currently listed at $42,990 (excluding tax), or 23% more expensive.
Do you need a car?
As we recalled above, there is no official record of a smaller Tesla in the Masterplan part 1 or part 2 shared by Elon Musk. A third Masterplan will soon be ready to be presented at Investor Day, and will be dedicated to climbing (ie the ability to produce in very large quantities).
Thus, it could correspond to the idea we have of a smaller and cheaper Tesla, which in fact would be much more popular than current vehicles. In the USA, this is an issue that is not the most important, as the market is fond of large vehicles. The Cybertruck could also be the best-selling Tesla in the North American market for years to come..
In Europe, the most popular vehicles are much smaller. than the 4.69 meter long Tesla Model 3, or the 4.75 meter long Model Y. Even in the world of electric cars, models like the Peugeot e-208 or the Renault Zoe have shown over time that this template was indeed the one that attracted the most potential customers.
Whether it is to navigate narrow streets, park in parking lots that are not made for large vehicles or simply becausea small vehicle is more than enough for everyday lifeThis Tesla Model 2 – which most likely will not be called that – is eagerly awaited by many.
However, it is probably not only for the European market that is intended, since the competition for electric vehicles is taking place in a completely different corner of the world: in China. Indeed, manufacturers of electric vehicles are very numerous, and Tesla regularly bites into market share by manufacturers that we do not yet know in Europe.
To maintain its leadership in the world of connected cars, it’s a safe bet that Tesla will launch its electric city car in China firstespecially since its Shanghai factory is currently the best capable of producing large volumes quickly.
Between myth and reality
During his 2019 Autonomy Day, Tesla had floated the idea of a good robotaxis that were intended to transport people independently, no need for a driver behind the wheel.
An image was shared during the event, essentially showing a Tesla Model 3 interior without its steering wheel. It was enough for some to jump to conclusions, and see there a $25,000 Tesla Model 2 that would make the perfect Robotaxi vehicle.
However, it is necessary to put things in context: as of today, Tesla sells fully autonomous driving capability in the United States for $15,000, and this software only allows level 2 autonomous driving.
From there to seeing the Tier 5 range on a $25,000 car is a huge leap that we wouldn’t dare take.. In practice, it is much more likely that this Tesla Model 2 is a more compact version of the Model 3, since the Model Y was a taller and more spacious version..
The rest, Tesla confirmed talk of a new production platform during Investor Day on March 1. which raises the possibility of an announcement about more production optimizations on current and future vehicles.
Further however, we shouldn’t expect all the details of a small Tesla to be revealed anytime soon. because it’s still too early for that.
Drawings that resurface: is this the sign of an imminent announcement?
You probably haven’t missed the Tesla Model 2 rumors that have resurfaced recently. A 2020 drawing was notably spotted in videos shared by Tesla, and some quickly concluded that it was a small Easter Egg reveal details about the famous compact Tesla.
It’s most likely not that, and the Tesla Model 2 is destined to be designed and produced in Shanghai, where the most productive Gigafactory on the planet is located.
Also, in the interest of minimizing costs, which seems to be Tesla’s main goal for the future, you will almost certainly have to wait for major upgrades on the production line before you see the first Tesla Model 2 released from the factory.
Finally, the cells in 4680 format are undoubtedly a prerequisite for the commercialization of a more affordable Tesla, since these cells allow Tesla to control costs in the best possible way. At the moment, they are intended for certain Tesla Model Y and Tesla Semi, but the Cybertruck will soon reach the American market, and it will need all the production of these cells for a few years.
No one can predict for sure the arrival of a compact Tesla, but it’s best not to expect to be able to get around in Tesla Model 2 for several years.. Will we still have the beginning of a response during Investor Day this Wednesday March 1st? We meet tomorrow!
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