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Tesla to build another sportscar

Game-changer: Tesla’s first production car proved that electric cars could also be fun and fast.

Discontinued electric Tesla Roadster set to be replaced with a new model by 2016

Tesla logo16 May 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

TESLA intends building a successor to its groundbreaking all-electric Roadster, but perhaps not until 2016.

As the California-based car-maker continues with its plan to roll out a new model every year – starting with the Model S sedan this year and the Model X SUV next year – it is close to locking in the next two models.

Tesla Motors Australia regional manager Jay McCormack told GoAuto that an all-Tesla successor to the discontinued Lotus-based Roadster was definitely in the company’s long-term planning.

“We will have another sportscar, definitely,” he said.

“At the moment we’re concentrating on the Model S and Model X, of course, but in 12 months we will be ready to talk about the third model.

“Maybe it will be the sportscar, or maybe we’ll slip another model in before it, so it should be 2015 or 2016.”

Company founder and chairman Elon Musk earlier this year was reported to have said that the third Tesla model line could be a smaller and less-expensive model in the mould of the BMW 3 Series, which would have greater mass-market appeal than the luxury Model S or Model X.

A more affordable EV would enable Tesla to make better use of its new manufacturing facility at Fremont, south of San Francisco, which is a former Toyota-General Motors joint-venture plant with a capacity of 500,000 units a year. Production of the Model S has been set at 20,000 units next year.

55 center imageFrom top: Tesla Model X and Model S.

Tesla has delivered more than 2300 Roadsters globally, including 21 in Australia and one in New Zealand since January 2011. Only four cars are still available from the Australian allocation.

Production had always been capped at 2500 cars under the supply agreement with Lotus.

“Sales have been so successful it looks like we will follow North America and sell out about six months earlier than expected,” said Mr McCormack.

One of the Australian owners, Simon Hackett, set a world distance record of 501km for a production electric car on a single charge on October 27, 2009, during the Global Green Challenge in the outback, at an average speed of 40 km/h.

Tesla plans to produce 5000 Model S sedans by the end of this year – all for the North American market – then left-hand-drive models will be built before right-hand-drive homologation is completed.

Australian supplies are expected to arrive around the middle of 2013, though North American deliveries have been pulled forward to June from July due to the smooth start-up of production at the reconfigured Fremont plant.

Meanwhile, Tesla Australia has already taken five reservations for the Model X that was revealed to a select audience in a Los Angeles design studio in February. Tesla claims it received 503 orders that day.

The large electric SUV, which sports innovative double-hinged Falcon doors that lift up rather than out, will be launched in the US in early 2014 and should arrive in Australia by the end of 2014.

Mr McCormack said that Tesla’s own platform and drivetrain – which underpin both the Model S and the Model X – is flexible and can easily be shortened to suit a small sportscar.

He also said that, while the original Roadster had to be based on an existing car because Tesla at that time had no production facilities of its own, the new Fremont plant made it possible to produce its own designs.

The Lotus Elise-based Roadster introduced in 2008 was the first production car in the world fitted with lithium-ion batteries and is credited with inspiring GM to produce the Chevrolet Volt, which will be sold in Australia as a Holden from late this year.

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