Image Courtesy : Tesla Motors Club
Tesla motors built the greatest electric car. There is no doubt about it. But was it enough? Obviously not. There came a harder part. Of sustainable solution in running the car for longer period. Heading into its second decade as a company, Tesla might look like it’s on cruise control. After proving electric-car doubters wrong in 2008 by building a screaming-fast sports car, the Roadster, it proved them even wronger in 2012 by building the wildly popular, and surprisingly practical Model S sedan. If Tesla’s goal were simply to become a world-beating luxury automaker, crafting pricey toys for the environmentally conscious elite, it would already have succeeded. But Elon Musk’s aim all along has been to build an electric car for the masses. Specifically, the company’s plan is a $35,000 3rd Gen electric sedan with competitive performance and a 200-mile-plus range, all by the year 2017. This third-generation sedan has been popularly dubbed Model E, though that’s unlikely to end up as its real name. By 2020, Tesla hopes to be shipping 500,000 cars a year. That’s more than 10 times its current output. And it will probably have to do it without the federal subsidies that have helped make its cars more affordable so far.
If Tesla pulls it off, it will secure its place among the world’s great car companies while helping to push electric cars into the mainstream. If Tesla falls short, it will remain a glitzy sideshow while established players like Nissan and BMW figure out the future of the car, electric or otherwise. A hit with critics and rich techies alike, the Model S has rapidly become one of the world’s most coveted, and, in some markets, best-selling luxury cars. Demand is building in Europe and Asia. A second high-end model, the Model X SUV, will hit the market next year.
So how can Tesla possibly achieve its stated objectives for its third-generation vehicle? Build Gigafactory? Why? The enduring problem with electric cars is that batteries cost far more than internal combustion engines relative to the power they provide. Before Tesla, the prevailing approach was to keep electric cars as affordable as possible by skimping on performance and range. The result is $35,000 plug-ins that drove like $12,000 econo-boxes. Musk turned that equation on its head by casting price concerns aside and building the best cars he could, the Model S costs $80,000, and it outperforms the best gas-guzzlers in its class. It was a stroke of strategic brilliance, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem. Electric batteries are still nowhere near as cost-effective as gasoline engines, unless you count the societal costs of air pollution, but that’s another debate. The Gigafactory, in contrast, will have to be built from scratch at an estimated cost of $5 billion. Tesla has named five states as possible sites: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Yet with groundbreaking less than a month away, the company is still keeping coy as to which one it has chosen, perhaps in a bid to wrangle final-hour concessions from the candidates. In another quintessential Musk move, the company has said it plans to break ground on two sites at once, because it can’t afford to be held back by permitting and construction delays