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by Tim Beissmann

Tesla’s upcoming third model line – a premium small car to rival the BMW 3-Series – could go on sale as early as 2015, according to an Autocar report.

Tesla design boss Franz von Holzhausen says the new compact model will “continue to drive down the price point as fast as possible”, potentially undercutting the 3-Series with a target price of US$30,000 ($29,300). America’s base model 328i sedan currently starts at US$36,500 ($35,700).

Tesla’s new small car will join the larger Model S sedan (pictured top), which hit US showrooms last month and will be joined by a US$49,900 ($48,800) entry-level variant later this year, and the Model X SUV (pictured below), which launches in early 2014.

Von Holzhausen said the new model would be styled more aggressively than the elegant but conservative Model S.

“We will become more experimental as we develop as a brand. Our cars need to have some personality,” he said.

Von Holzhausen said the flexibility of Tesla’s electric architecture meant there was almost no limit to the type or size of vehicle the brand could produce in the future, and said a seemingly unlikely all-electric pick-up truck to rival the Ford F-150 was a possibility.

“There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pick-up. That’s a market for which the torque of an electric motor would be ideally suited.”

Tesla Australia’s Jay McCormack confirmed the Model S is on track to arrive in Australia in mid 2013. While he says it is too early to confirm local pricing given exchange rate fluctuations, McCormack says the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer is looking to bring the car to Australia “as close to our US pricing as possible before Australian warranty and taxes”. CarAdvice expects the Model S to start somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000.

The four-door ‘sportback sedan’ features five standard seats as well as two optional rear-facing child seats. It will be offered in three driving ranges in Australia – 260km, 370km and 480km – and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds in Performance specification.




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