Auto industry Tesla Roadster concept Preisert

Published on April 14th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

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Musk Sets The World Atwitter With New Tweets About Tesla Pickup, Model 3 And Next Roadster

April 14th, 2017 by  
 

When Elon Musk jumps on Twitter, he just can’t stop. Yesterday brought four new tweets with information on four areas of interest to Tesla fans. First and foremost was the announcement that the Tesla Semi will be unveiled in September — which means sometime before Christmas in Elon-speak. Electric trucks for hauling freight could go a long way toward cutting the nitrous oxide and particulate emissions that spew forth from the smokestacks of diesel powered tractors every day.

Model 3 News

Tesla Model 3

That one announcement would be enough for most titans of industry but Musk had more to say. In one tweet, he let it be known that the final reveal of the much anticipated Model 3 will happen in July. That happens to be the same month when production is scheduled to begin. The first cars will go to Tesla employees, which is sort of brilliant. Tesla is going straight to production without building a small fleet of beta test cars. Instead, its employees will do the beta testing for them. Any issues they discover can be addressed immediately at the factory level before cars for the general public begin shipping.

Before any cars get built, the customers need to complete the ordering process in what Tesla calls its Design Studio. And before the design studio goes live, Tesla has to figure out how much it is going to charge for the car, what options will be offered, and how much they will cost. Up till now, all we know is that the Model 3 will begin at $35,000 and have at least 215 miles of range. We can assume from Musk’s tweet that customers will be able to go online to complete their orders once the final reveal takes place.

The Tesla Pickup Truck

Tesla Pickup Truck concept via YouTube

Tesla pickup truck concept via YouTube

Elon also had something to say about the upcoming Tesla electric pickup truck, a vehicle that will be essential to completing the company’s range of automotive offerings. Its time is coming but not as quickly as some might have hoped. Again, no specifics are available. People naturally want to know about things like payload and towing capacity. Those are the things that make building an electric pickup truck such a challenge.

Unless Tesla is going to build a boulevardier — a soft roader for hauling golf clubs to the country club or a pound of finish nails — it will need to have the ability to lug around a half ton of bricks or tow the family RV to the mountains. Tasks like that take a lot of battery power, which in turn makes an electric pickup truck expensive compared to the competition. No doubt Elon has an answer to that conundrum, we just don’t know what it is yet and probably won’t until 2019 at the earliest.

The Tesla Roadster, Part Deux

Tesla Roadster concept Peisert

Tesla Roadster concept by Jan Preisert via Inverse

The Tesla Roadster is the car that started it all. Back in 2008, it drew hoots of derision from the motoring press. A car powered by thousands of laptop batteries? Ridiculous! People who bought Tesla stock around that time are laughing all the way to the bank today. That car was based on a Lotus chassis and featured technology that is almost 2 decades old today. While it is a collector’s item now, it really was not that terrific a car. Tesla is working on a second generation Roadster, but it’s a low priority item and is still several years in the future.

Yesterday, Elon told his Twitter followers that the Roadster 2 will be a convertible. That’s a surprise to some but shouldn’t be. Every sports car nut ever born knows a roadster has a top that goes down for open air motoring. The next Roadster will also be wicked fast. Elon has hinted several times that it will be the fastest Tesla ever built when it gets here. He has even picked out the name for its performance mode — Maximum Plaid.

Musk watchers know Elon is fixated on certain elements of popular culture that may be opaque to average people. For instance, the volume on the sound system in Tesla cars goes to 11, a sly nod to a line in This Is Spinal Tap. Musk is also a fan of the Mel Brooks spoof Space Balls, which mocks the iconic hyperspace mode in Star Wars by going it three better — Insane, Ludicrous, or Maximum Plaid. Tesla has already outfitted its high performance models with an Insane and a Ludicrous mode. The second generation Roadster will have the honor of being the first Tesla to offer Maximum Plaid mode and it will be wicked fast.

Sending Elon A Tweet

As you can see, all of the announcements yesterday from Elon came in response to questions on Twitter from other people. Musk only follows 39 people but has 8.2 million followers. He reminds me of the character in the Joe Walsh song Life’s Been Good who croons, “So I got me an office, gold records on the wall. Just leave a message, maybe I’ll call.” Send Elon a tweet. There’s a one in 8.2 million chance he will tweet you back.

Source: Cleantechnica





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About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.



  • J_JamesM

    “Unless Tesla is going to build a boulevardier — a soft roader for hauling golf clubs to the country club or a pound of finish nails — it will need to have the ability to lug around a half ton of bricks or tow the family RV to the mountains. Tasks like that take a lot of battery power, which in turn makes an electric pickup truck expensive compared to the competition.”

    I find I must disagree with this assertion. I have no idea whether Tesla will actually play it this way, but I can imagine a scenario in which a BEV truck is not prohibitively expensive compared to others.

    Trucks are highly expensive prestige vehicles in America. People are willing to pay big money for a truck. They can be optioned to the nines. And the profits they make are similarly enormous.

    The rather large Ford F-150, for example, costs anywhere between $28,000 and $64,000. That represents a huge range of capabilities, trims, and yes, features. Even a more “utilitarian,” somewhat smaller truck like the Chevrolet Colorado runs between $20,000 and $37,000. We don’t really have any small trucks like the S-10 or Ranger anymore, for which you can thank the Chicken Tax and the altogether lackluster profit in such vehicles (though the argument could be made that small trucks didn’t sell very well because major offerings like the aforementioned S-10 and Ranger were dreadfully designed and sloppily executed).

    So let’s assume that Tesla or some other electric truck manufacturer wanted to target a midsize truck. Maybe not as large as an F-150, but similar enough. A starting price of $30,000 (or $29,999!) seems to be a prudent target. You wouldn’t want to give even a small truck any less than 60 kWh, so there’s about $10,000 out the door just for the battery. With the remaining $20,000, that’s the budget you have to work with for making a nice-ish truck. That budget just happens to be able to buy a base model Colorado, which itself presumably makes some kind of profit. Let’s assume that the thousands of dollars that goes into an internal combustion engine instead goes towards the motors and electrical whatnot, and call that a wash.

    But a basically electrified Colorado-class truck wouldn’t be all that competitive at F-150 prices, right? Well, I don’t think that necessarily gives EVs enough credit. Even if the size and furnishings were only like a Colorado, the EV drivetrain might be able to make up the difference in value. A base Colorado comes with a listless four-banger that only makes 191 lb-ft of torque, at peak. A Bolt’s 266 lb-ft motor with its instantaneous, superior torque would eat that engine for lunch, and the Bolt’s just a subcompact! Hell, a Bolt motor makes more torque than the V-6 engine of a base model F-150.

    But along with the increased torque comes all sorts of other benefits that increase the relative value. There’s the quietness. The smoothness. The superb handling that comes from a vastly superior weight distribution and center of gravity, which would be such an extraordinary improvement over front-biased and top-heavy ICE trucks that such handling would be worth it by itself for many people, I’d wager. Then there’s the amount of control and off-roading capability that an electric motor would provide. No more having to worry about revs and torque curves and gearing. Just traction and angles.

    Granted, most of these things would need to be experienced in a comparison test drive or else advertised/reviewed very cleverly, because refinement and handling characteristics aren’t as apparent as power figures and base price, but still. Don’t count out the sense an electrified truck could make.

    • Steve Hanley

      Thanks for that insight. I submit that you and I may think rationally, but rationality is largely irrelevant in the marketplace. We buy vehicles for how they make us feel. Watch the truck ads. They are selling macho, in your face caricatures. The war on the sales floor is to create the meanest, toughest face possible. Enormous grilles that say “Get the F out of my way!” when viewed in the rear view mirror.

      Constant ads of trucks towing horse trailers, a ton of big rocks or enough pipe to build a pipeline. When the Model X came out, all anybody could talk about was its towing capacity. The Tesla truck will have to be able to out-muscle all the others on the market to get so much as a second glance from F150, Silverado, and Ram customers.

      Your argument makes sense, which is why it is irrelevant to the truck market.

      • J_JamesM

        Your point is well taken. I did concede that it would have to be advertised or reviewed very cleverly, because there’s little chance the truck-buying public (or any people) in aggregate will weigh the costs and benefits logically.

        As far as out-muscling… I think it’s very doable for upper-trim models of such a truck to do so, just as the Model X and S crush their rivals. I was using cars like the Bolt and Colorado as a baseline for the cheapest models, but it would only be natural to build even more powerful versions to embarrass the Ecoboost-powered Ford Raptors and so on.

        Though doubtless there would be some who insist on comparing the highest trim ICE to the base trim EV, and ignore that the base trim could easily outperform other base trims. Likewise, as we see with the Model S and X, the base price is hardly ever mentioned—only the headline-grabbing maximum price. It’s a double-edged sword, because you hardly ever see the base models’ performance figures either.

  • Kieran Delaney

    If the next roadster looks anything close to that concept, I’d sell my body to buy one…

    What a looker.

  • Marc P

    As far as a Tesla truck goes, I think the laws of physics will catch up and Tesla won’t be able to offer much more than a fancy “Boulevardier”. Tesla’s pick up truck might very well be *able* to tow big loads, that’s not the question. The question is range. Hook up a 5000 pound boat and haul it through even slightly uneven terrain and your range could go down by as much 50% if not more. If that 300 mile range suddenly becomes 150 miles, I’m not sure truck fans will come running to Tesla! I’m all for EV’s but this isn’t practical. Then again, maybe Mr Musk will put in a 200 kWh battery and range, even at 50%, won’t be that bad…??

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