Tesla Denies Rumors of Model ≡ Delay, Says Affordable Next-Gen Tesla Model ≡ Will Be Revealed Next Year, Start Production in 2017

Despite best intentions to the contrary, all three electric cars produced by Tesla Motors have experienced production delays in some form or other. The super-sexy Tesla Roadster, Tesla Motors’ limited-production two-seat coupe, suffered multiple delays on its way to market. The Tesla Model S electric sedan meanwhile, has suffered various delays during its production, caused by high demand for certain high-end models. The Model X, Tesla’s full-size SUV that was originally intended to debut as a 2015 model year car in late 2014, won’t begin deliveries until Q3 this year.

Tesla says the Model ≡ is on track for production in 2017.

Tesla says the Model ≡ is on track for production in 2017.

Given past experiences, it’s reasonable to assume then that the Tesla Model ≡, the automaker’s long-promised, mass-market, 200-mile, next-generation, affordable electric car, will suffer some form of delay on its way to market. At least, that’s what InsideEVs thought when it incorrectly interpreted a slide form a recent Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] presentation given in Washington, D.C.

No so, says Tesla Motor’s Communications boss Ricardo Reyes, who quickly tweeted in response to the story that “Contrary to speculative blogger reports, we still plan to show Model 3 in 2016 and begin production in 2017.”

The slide which started it all, seemingly detailing a delay in Tesla Model ≡ production until early 2018, was part of a presentation entitled “Energy Storage, EVs and the Grid,” which was given by Tesla Motors Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel at the 2015 EIA Conference in Washington, D.C. last week.

On the slide in question, JB Straubel has plotted the comparative price of a 100-mile electric car, a 200-mile electric car, and a gasoline vehicle over time, demonstrating how advances in battery technology — and presumably Tesla’s own lithium-ion battery pack economies of scale courtesy of the Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada — will slowly eliminate the sticker shock gap between plug-in cars and internal combustion engined vehicle.

In the middle of the slide, a data point is highlighted, and a square label near it (though not obviously connected with it) reads “$35K 200 MI-RANGE EV PLANNED FOR 2018.”

Given the text, it’s fair enough to assume that it refers to the Tesla Model ≡, which is often quoted as having a large range of 200-miles per charge and an entry-level sticker price before incentives of $35,000.

But later yesterday, a Tesla representative contacted InsideEVs to reiterate the same message tweeted by Reyes earlier in the day: Tesla is on track to deliver the Model ≡ as planned, and the slide referenced by InsideEVs refers to the start of full-scale production, rather than initial production.

In order for the Model ≡ to hit the market on time, the Tesla Gigafactory has to be producing cells by the end of 2017.

In order for the Model ≡ to hit the market on time, the Tesla Gigafactory has to be producing cells by the end of 2017.

The nuance here is important: as Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said previously, both the Tesla Model X and Tesla Model ≡ are expected to take a few months to go from initial production to full-scale production, something that’s fairly common in the automotive world as it allows an automaker to ensure everything is correct with initial production vehicles before ramping up production to full capacity.

Of course, in order to hit both its targets for the Model ≡, Tesla first needs to finish production of its Gigafactory on time and on budget so that it can start lithium-ion cell production on a large enough scale to make the target $35,000 price tag for the Model ≡ a reality.


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