Tesla engineering vice president Chris Porritt told AutoExpress the Californian EV manufacturer needed to appeal to a significantly wider range of customers with its smallest and most affordable model that’s expected to be revealed in 2016 and launch globally in 2017.
“We don’t know what type of customer we’re trying to appeal to yet, but we want to speak to more customers – lots of them,” Porritt said.
“We’ve got specific customers for Model S, we have an idea with Model X, but we need to appeal to more people with Model 3.”
“We want this car to be £30,000 to £35,000 ($54,800 to $64,000) with derivatives which will appeal to all sorts of people. SUVs, estates… Who knows?”
The Tesla Model 3 sedan will compete with the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, all of which are available with wagon, coupe and convertible body styles (A5 and 4 Series in the case of the first two). All three also offer highly popular mid-sized SUVs (Q5, X3 and GLK).
Porritt said hitting its price targets would be crucial for the success of the Model 3 and the future of the company.
“The type of technology we have now is quite expensive. To enable us to sell Model 3 for a more cost-effective price, we need to take the cost of building it down as well.
“We’ve got to be more efficient in the way we build it and we will have to use more cost-effective materials and/or be cleverer with the materials we use.”
Porritt says Tesla is targeting Model 3 sales of “well over 200,000 a year”, made possible by the planned construction of a Gigafactory battery plant in the US capable of producing up to half a million lithium-ion batteries annually.
Tesla’s first mainstream vehicle, the 5 Series-sized Model S, is available in Australia from $96,208. It will be followed by the Model X crossover, likely in 2016.