Tesla Models Compared: Past, Present and Future

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Whether you’re an investor, driver or environmentalist, you’ve likely heard of the whirlwind arrival and ups and downs of Tesla Motors, now Tesla Inc. Tesla is unique in the automotive and technology industries. It boasts rare success in electric vehicles, and it’s even rarer in that it’s the first new successful automotive company in more than a century to stand toe-to-toe with major automotive players. (The last? Ford Motor Company in 1903.) We thought it might be interesting to look at Tesla models past, present, future and, well, unknown.

Tesla Roadster (2008-2012)

This is where it all started. The Tesla Roadster was the result of years of planning, a vehicle that could prove to the world, once and for all, that electric vehicles didn’t have to be boring. Tesla Roadster was built in a modified Lotus Elise platform, lightweight and sporty, taking full advantage of the instantaneous torque and acceleration the Tesla powertrain could deliver.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Power: 185 kW to 215 kW
  • Torque: 180 lb•ft to 295 lb•ft
  • Capacity: 53 kWh to 80 kWh
  • Range: 200 mi to 400 mi
  • 0-62 mph: 5.7 sec to 3.7 sec

More than 2,250 Tesla Roadsters were sold by the time production ended, ranging in price from $80,000 to $128,500 (all prices in this article are MSRP and don’t include options), depending on the year and powertrain options. Despite its short production run, the Tesla Roadster accomplished its task, increasing awareness and acceptance of electric vehicle technology. The stage was set for even greater expansion.

Tesla Model S (2012-Present)

From this point forward, Tesla Motors would produce not only electric vehicle powertrains, which it used in the Tesla Roadster and Toyota RAV4 EV, but entire vehicles, built from the ground up. The Tesla Model S was the first, a rear-wheel-drive electric vehicle that continued to define the genre. The first Tesla Model S had a 60 kWh battery, giving it a range of about 250 miles, well within the needs of the majority of drivers.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Power: 285 kW to 568 kW
  • Torque: 317 lb•ft to 687 lb•ft
  • Capacity: 40 kWh (60 kWh software-limited) to 100 kWh
  • Range: 200 mi to 400 mi
  • 0-62 mph: 6.5 sec to 2.3 sec

Tesla’s Model S has been available in a dizzying array of model variations, battery capacity and range, power output, and RWD and AWD configurations. Additionally, software upgrades enable charging and performance enhancements, autopilot functions and adaptive suspension settings, to name a few. Priced between $57,400 and $135,000, more than 200,000 Model S have been sold worldwide, including nearly 120,000 in the U.S. as of December 2017. As of January 2018, three models are available, including the Model S 75D, 100D and P100D.

Tesla Model X (2015-Present)

While the Tesla Model S addresses the sedan crowd, even with optional seating for up to seven, Tesla Motors would not stop there, moving quickly into another high-profit segment with the Tesla Model X SUV. Tesla Model X features standard seating for seven and a dual motor all-wheel drive platform. It’s also the only electric vehicle on the market with built-in towing capability. Unlike typical SUVs, Tesla Model X’s low center of gravity makes it highly resistant to rollover accidents.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Power: 386 kW to 568 kW
  • Torque: 317 lb•ft to 687 lb•ft
  • Capacity: 60 kWh to 100 kWh
  • Range: 200 mi to 295 mi
  • 0-62 mph: 4.9 sec to 2.9 sec

Though one of the safest vehicles on the road, the most divisive features seem to be Tesla Model X’s non-folding second-row seats and falcon-wing rear doors, which open “up” instead of “out.” This is a great feature for tight parking spaces, giving access to second- and third-row seating, but low-ceiling garages can’t accommodate the extra height, up to 90 inches. This hasn’t dampened the vehicle’s desirability, priced from $80,000 to $140,000. More than 72,000 Tesla Model X have been sold worldwide as of December 2017.

Tesla Model 3 (2017-Present)

This is what Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk’s plan was, all along, after offering a few low-volume high-profit models, basically to fuel the storm and fund the production of a high-volume, low-profit sedan, the Tesla Model 3. Tesla would have gone with “Tesla Model E,” but it was foiled by Ford Motor Company’s claim to the name.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Power: 192 kW (estimated)
  • Torque: 317 lb•ft (estimated)
  • Capacity: 50 kWh or 75 kWh
  • Range: 220 mi to 310 mi
  • 0-62 mph: 5.6 sec to 5.1 sec

The Tesla Model 3 has been available since mid-2017, priced between $35,000 and $44,000, but production bottlenecks are keeping sales numbers lower. As of January 2018, just 3,639 vehicles were delivered. Demand is so great for the new Model 3 that deliveries are expected in as long as 18 months.

Upcoming Tesla Models

With Tesla Motors’ power base firmly established, despite production delays and the like, the “Tesla Master Plan” includes more models to cover the range of modern transportation needs. Tesla Model Y is one such planned vehicle, a more affordable and smaller version of the Tesla Model X, a crossover SUV based on the Tesla Model 3 platform. A Tesla Minibus is under consideration, or maybe a 10-12 passenger van based on the Tesla Model X platform. There are also rumors of a Tesla Pickup, perhaps based on the Model X platform, and Elon Musk plans to make even more affordable electric vehicles that everyone can own and drive. There are a couple vehicles that we know about for certain.

Tesla Semi – With a huge battery pack and four independent electric motors, Tesla Semi outperforms and underburns the competition, able to accelerate to 62 mph in just 20 seconds with a total load of 80,000 pounds, three times faster than a comparable diesel tractor. On a 5 percent grade, Tesla Semi can maintain 65 mph, while the diesel can manage 45 mph. At the same time, while pricing is expected to run $150,000 to $200,000, estimated annual fuel savings are expected to exceed $200,000. This Class VIII semi-truck could begin production in 2019.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Range: 300 mi to 500 mi (fully loaded)
  • 0-60 mph: 5 sec (bobtail) to 20 sec (loaded)
  • Loaded Cost / Mile: $1.26/mi Solo, 85¢/mi Convoy (Diesel $1.51/mi)

Tesla Roadster 2020 – The prototype Tesla Roadster 2020 was revealed at the same time as the Tesla Semi, unloaded from the back of one of the new trucks. It’s a record-breaking sports car, the only production car able to sprint to 60 mph in less than 2 seconds and hit the quarter-mile marker in under nine seconds. At the same time, the AWD 2+2 Targa top has a range of 620 miles, an electric vehicle world record. Of course, this is not slated for production until 2020, so things might change between now and then.

  • Key Specifications:
  • Power:
  • Torque: 7,376 lb•ft
  • Capacity: 200 kWh
  • Range: 620 mi
  • 0-60 mph: 1.9 sec

In making what it calls “the best” cars and trucks on the road, Tesla admittedly has endured some bumps in the road, but consistently responded with investigation and technical improvements.

Tesla’s vehicles certainly have been impressive and eye-opening, and things appear to be moving according to the master plan, albeit with delays. If anything, if you don’t buy a Tesla, it might be that Tesla has provoked other automakers to adopt the same technology, opening up electric vehicle technology to the masses.

By | 2018-06-19T15:49:21+00:00 May 31st, 2018|Model News|0 Comments

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