With the launch of Tesla’s all-electric Model X Crossover SUV due this fall, you’d be forgiven for thinking every single automotive news outlet was focused heavily on the full-size, seven-seat luxury plug-in.
But over in the UK, publication AutoCar is already looking forward to the launch of Tesla’s next electric car: the Tesla Model ≡ sedan.
Marketed as Tesla’s first truly ‘affordable’ electric car with a price tag of around $30,000 after incentives, the Tesla Model ≡ electric sedan hasn’t even been officially revealed yet by the Californian automaker. But that will change in March next year, says AutoCar, with an official bespoke unveiling event held in true Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] fashion towards the end of the month.
As regular readers to Transport Evolved will know, the Tesla Model ≡ has long been promised to have a range of at least 200 miles per charge, thanks to the all-new lithium-ion battery packs that Tesla’s Gigafactory will churn out from 2017 onwards in Reno, Nevada.
But AutoCar now believes through sources close to the company that the Model ≡’s range will be closer to 300 miles on a single charge.
While there’s no substantiation to this rumour, we’d like to point out that the discrepancy could be the result of the differences in which vehicular range and fuel economy is tested in the U.S. and Europe.
Although the UK — where AutoCar is based — measures the same miles used for U.S. range calculations, the NEDC fuel economy tests on which UK-market range is calculated are notoriously over-optimistic, yielding official fuel economy figures and range ratings which are far in excess of real-world conditions.
Under the NEDC test cycle, for example, the Tesla Model S 85D is listed as having a 330-mile range. The same vehicle, under the U.S. EPA test cycle, is given a range of 270 miles per charge.
It’s concievable therefore, that the UK publican ion is quoting an estimated NEDC range, which would translate to a real-world Model ≡ range of somewhere between 230 and 250 miles per charge. That’s still better than originally anticipated, but a lot less than some headlines would suggest.
In its article, AutoCar discloses very little we don’t already know about the Model ≡, although it does quote an expected 0-62 mph time of 4.1 seconds. That’s longer than the 2.8-second 0-60 mph time of the flagship Tesla Model S P90D, but still impressive for a mid-sized sedan.
Indeed, if Tesla manages to meet that time, the mass-market plug-in will outperform the BMW M3 sports sedan in a straight line drag race. In a marketplace already full of mid-size, performance sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series Jaguar XE and Mercedes-Benz C Class sedan, gaining a performance edge on the gasoline-powered competition will be essential if Tesla is to truly penetrate one of the most heavily contested automotive market segments.
But we should also note an air of caution to this story. While it sometimes does manage to accurately predict future models, performance specifications and pricing, AutoCar has made some pretty big errors in reporting inside sources on future models before.
In this case, a March unveiling for the Model ≡ does at least sound plausible — but given Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tendency to launch products when they’re ready rather than wait for an arbitrary date, we’d like to know a little more about AutoCar’s source before passing our own judgement on its accuracy.
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