The Tesla Model 3 isn’t expected to even start production until late 2017, but Elon Musk has already started the rumor mill on what’s next for the fourth generation Tesla.
There wasn’t a big media-stopping press conference about the Model 4. It’s not even clear what the Model 4 will actually be called — although there’s a contingency who believe a Model Y is in order to make the Tesla lineup spell S 3 X Y. Regardless, Musk dropped some hints in mid-April at the Future Transport Solutions conference in Oslo, Norway about what’s to come.
First off, the next Tesla will start at an even lower base price than the Model 3s $35,000 price point. High performance electric vehicles don’t come cheap for a reason: The batteries alone are a price driver. But Musk stated in his talk in Oslo that higher-volume production and more people buying electric vehicles will sink the price. In other words, Tesla will depend on quantity to deliver its quality.
With something like the Model 3, it’s designed such that roughly half the people will be able to afford the car,” Musk said in the conference. “Then, with fourth generation and smaller cars, we’ll ultimately be in the position where everyone will be able to afford the car.”
A compact car
The second hint that Musk dropped about the next Tesla is in the middle of that statement: smaller cars.
Electric vehicle rivals like Nissan’s Leaf have already embraced the hatchback, ladybug shape. The Smart Car has taken electric vehicle size to an extremely small level with their two-door vehicles that are closer to golf carts than traditional cars. It’s hard to imagine Musk going for something as decidedly unstylish and beetle-shaped, but it’s the next logical step toward mainstream miniature.
A real self-driving car
Finally, the Model 4 (or Y, or whatever name Tesla lands on) will feature a whole lot more autonomy. Tesla’s Autopilot is already one of the most advanced semi-autonomous driving programs on the road, and the technology is only getting better as more and more vehicles use it. As Musk told the Wall Street Journal last year, autonomy is a Tesla priority.
“I think it will be quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy, let’s say, in 15-20 years,” Musk said. “And for Tesla, it will be a lot sooner than that.”
Whatever Musk has up his sleeve for the next generation Tesla, you can bet that it will be cheaper, smaller, and even smarter.