By on July 3, 2014

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Though Tesla’s low-cost EV won’t be able to put the E in between the S and the X, it will be able to meet its price target thanks an alloy swap in its construction.

Autocar reports steel instead of aluminum will make up the low-cost EV, which CEO Elon Musk stated will be 20 percent smaller than the Model S. The steel construction will likely be assembled through bonding and rivets, as well.

The use of steel will allow the new EV — expected sometime between late 2016 and early 2017 — to better compete against the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series on price, backed up by the reduced cost in battery production once the Gigafactory goes online at the same time as the low-cost Tesla arrives in showrooms.

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57 Comments on “Low-Cost Tesla EV To Use Steel To Hit A4, 3 Series Pricing Levels...”


  • avatar

    Cost isn’t the only concern. The Model S only succeeds because of its size. It seats 5 adults (4 comfortably) and has a hatchback.
    Whatever they churn out needs to have -at least – the interior space of a current Malibu or Hyundai Sonata 2015.

    The 300 mile range isn’t enough and the ability to charge at a supercharger isn’t either – unless you aren’t “time” conscious.
    The “Model E” needs to have AT LEAST a 200-mile-range and the ability to use superchargers.

    There is absolutely no reason to buy an EV unless:

    #1 I can charge it easily
    #2 It isn’t ridiculously expensive compared to a similarly sized I.C.E.
    #3 It gives me enough range to comfortably drive interstate distances.

    • 0 avatar
      skog

      Correct me if i’m wrong, but there might be people with different needs and wants than you.

      Funny thing is, size was always the main argument against EVs. They were small, looked stupid and could not seat enough people and carry luggage. Now there is an EV that does just that.

      I think the Model E could be a hit for people who do most of their driving in urban and suburban areas, which is what most people do anyway.

      What concerns me is “steel and rivets”. In cold areas where they use salt to combat ice this could be a real problem very quickly. And if a brand gets a reputation of rusting easily it could totally destroy them in that market.

      • 0 avatar

        “Funny thing is, size was always the main argument against EVs. They were small, looked stupid and could not seat enough people and carry luggage. Now there is an EV that does just that.”

        SHOW ME the EV that survives WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES.

        • 0 avatar
          skog

          What has that got to do with anything?

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          IIRC, your favorite brand Chrysler needed $8b from the US Govt to survive.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            LeMansteve,
            You are trying to reason with a guy who whines all day about government subsidies, but then actually earns his living as a mortgage broker, sponging government subsidies to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

            He insults our military by degrading the work they do overseas to guarantee our supply of oil, and then boasts about his gas-guzzling, SRT-powered egomobiles in the next sentence.

            He is also the guy who insults greens all day, but invests his own money in Tesla.

          • 0 avatar

            VOGO

            “He insults our military by degrading the work they do overseas to guarantee our supply of oil, and then boasts about his gas-guzzling, SRT-powered egomobiles”

            FORGIVE ME IF I’M WRONG but isn’t the JOB of the US MILITARY to PROTECT THE BORDERS OF AMERICA?

            Not in foreign lands STEALING resources?

            As far as “insulting liberals and greeners and investing in TESLA”…

            You should research the term “SUBSIDY CAPTURE”.

            Basically, it means that well-informed, wealthier people who can invest will CAPTURE the subsidies meant to help the poor/ middle class.

            Another example would be wealthy/rich people who line up for food stamps.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @BTSR: Now *I* am insulted. Sure, it’s the job of the military to protect the US, but for now, EVERY SINGLE SERVICEMAN is a volunteer–they CHOSE to protect America so they DESERVE our respect and our thanks.

            They also swore an oath to obey orders, so don’t blame the MILITARY for things their former Commander In Chief ordered them to do.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          “SHOW ME the EV that survives WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES.”

          Brought to you from a dude with a Chrysler in his Avatar.

        • 0 avatar
          probert

          Show me an oil company that doesn’t receive massive financial subsidies.

          Show me american military strategy and align it with oil fields and pipelines/distribution networks.

          Show me how many people die due to EV subsidies.

          • 0 avatar
            RogerB34

            You spin financial subsidies.
            Oil company subsidies are tax depreciation on equipment.
            EV, PV, Green subsidies are direct grants to the companies and tax reduction for consumers plus tax depreciation.
            Subsidies to renewables is referred as “incentives” by the politically correct.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            * “Oil company subsidies are tax depreciation on equipment.” — Accepted.
            But did you know about…

            * Discounts on land leases for drilling purposes?
            * Direct financial help for preparing a new site for drilling?

            Those add up to a lot more tax dollars than mere “depreciation on equipment.”

          • 0 avatar
            RogerB34

            Re Vulpine on Discounts and direct Government financial help new drilling site.
            Provide the link.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        Well, Mazda still sells cars succesfully….

        but i was thinking the same thing. Didn’t rivets disappear because it was more expensive and less sturdy than welding? Now all the welding robots, laser welding etc. it seems archaic.

        I’m sure Tesla has a reason and it would have been good if the article didn’t just throw some “rivets”out, but actually provided some background information on the why.

        This is what I miss about TTAc articles lately, they become more mainstream with less depth. Let’s just use the word “rivets” from the press release, even if we don’t understand why. In case a dingbat wrote the press release and just misspelled or misunderstood, the error gets repeated without questioning.

        and wouldn’t the lower battery cost due to the Gigafactory also help the current more expensive EV?

        Please more depth. for shallow articles i can read USAToday.

        • 0 avatar
          Frankie the Hollywood Scum

          The religilious belief in the free market is nuts. Just looking at a cell phone and cable market or for that matter the Prius history should convince you it is more complicated than some talk radio dogma.

          Also the DOE funds plenty of work that makes ICE transportation more efficient.

          • 0 avatar
            skog

            There is no such thing as a free market. It is constantly manipulated by huge corporations, wealthy individuals and the government acting on behalf of the people or on behalf of the aforementioned corporations and individuals.

            If there is a general concensus amongst the public that the government should spend tax money to help EV production along until it can sustain itself, then i don’t see the problem.

          • 0 avatar
            cartunez

            Because you don’t understand the free market does not mean it does not exist. Regarding the Tesla I am very tempted to purchase one but the new 707 HP is coming and I am a horsepower whore.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’m sure Tesla has already taken corrosion prevention into consideration.

    • 0 avatar
      FractureCritical

      you aren’t cynical enough (in this instance)

      the Model S suceeds becuase it’s got a big exclusive brand name on the hood

      your first two points are valid, but your last one isn’t.
      Most people drive 30-50 miles per day and large scale trips are infrequent. Most people who own an EV onw another ICE powered car, anyway, so the long trip range thing isn’t an issue.

      the rest just don’t own EV’s becuase they don’t make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Bigtruckseries: you always seem to be on of the first to comment and always have a long political explanation, even if the article is about rivets.

      EVs had existed before ICE cars, before government even cared about non-horse transportation. With improved technology they will have their own existence without subsidies. All the EV improvement didn’t come from the car OEM, it came from electronics OEM that needed better batteries for phones etc. they developed better batteries for free market needs without government. All the essential EV parts come from non-car manufacturers (E-motors, batteries etc.).

      I’m not sure if it is still $7.5K subsidy, but I’m sure one could sell a $90K (or whatever) Tesla with or without that, people that afford that don’t need the subsidy.

      What about the subsidy the ICE car gets? I don’t recall adding $20K to each car as a cost to pay for the army to secure the oil supply or gulf cleanup after spills. That is all paid by tax money one way or another. don’t get me started on oil industry, corn industry etc. subsidies for ICE cars. $7.5K for an EVe is a bargain compared to that.
      (full declaration, I’m against any subsidies except short-term for new technologies)

      • 0 avatar

        The entire “greener” liberal movement to subsidize EV and punish gas-guzzlers is all born out of a LIE. GLOBAL WARMING.

        A lie which N.O.A.A recently got caught in: using computer models instead of raw-data to support their LIES that the Earth is Warming.

        IT ISN’T.

        I.C.E vehicles do not need government subsidies.

        EV’s do. They are too impractical and expensive to produce in large enough numbers to combat the practicality and inexpensiveness of I.C.E.

        There is NOTHING about a Tesla Model S that makes it more practical or affordable than a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, Elantra or even a Toyota Camry. same goes for the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt and any other EV you want to name.

        I don’t expect you to agree with me. But my logic is undeniable.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          TinySchmuckSeries,
          Your logic is flawed and based on a selective reading of fact. ICE is much more heavily subsidized by the US government than EV has ever been. Most defense spending is on war in the gulf to protect the supply of oil. Pure and simple.

          The Earth is absolutely warming. In fact, 13 of the 14 hottest years ever recorded were this century. The oceans are hotter and higher now, and result in destruction like Superstorm Sandy and Supertyphoon Haiyan.

          You are welcome to your opinion, but the facts are what they are.

          • 0 avatar

            VOGO

            Although I’ll ignore your 1st grade name-calling due to your anger at being presented with facts…

            #1 YOU CANNOT SHOW ME how much greenhouse gas is being produced naturally vs. how much is produced by man.

            #2 We’ve only had less than 100 years of satellite data and our ice core, geologic records only go back less than 1 Billion years.

            ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TELLING ME that EARTH is “WARMER” now than it was WHEN IT FIRST FORMED???

            You know- back when the SURFACE WAS MOLTEN LAVA???

            YOU KNOW – 4.5 BILLION YEARS AGO???

            Do me a favor, don’t bother replying.

            Let me make it simple for you:

            4.5 Billion years ago = Molten Lava surface.

            Now – NOT molten Lava surface…

            You are grasping at straws and we know you’re lying. Hopefully the backlash takes you greeners out once and for all.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            TSS,
            Your entire tirade is built on your lack of reading comprehension.

            The statement was 13 of 14 hottest years ever recorded. Of course the earth was warmer billions of years ago, but then we didn’t have recording equipment back then.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @btsr: You need to keep up with current events.

            #1 Proof is on its way, as NASA has just launched a satellite intended to do exactly that.
            #2 Well, if you want to be specific we’ve only had about 50 years of satellite data; however, we have over 250 years of actual measurements recorded in the US alone and even geological records have shown that this warming trend is quicker than ANY previous. I might also note that we had DIRECT PROOF of human effect here in the US during the week that civil aviation was grounded after 9/11/01.
            #3 No. He’s saying that our climate is warming more quickly than ever before. Stop trying to exaggerate his statements.

          • 0 avatar
            cartunez

            The real issue with global warming is the earth is probably getting warmer but that it has more to do with natural occurrence than man made doing. Additionally if the earth is warming what is extra tax going to do to stop it?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @cartunez: There is too much proof contradicting your opinion about global warming. Yes, it is possible that part of it is natural, but no previous “natural” warming has raised the temperature as quickly as this most recent one. There is irrefutable proof that man has at least “influenced” it, even if it isn’t 100% man-caused.

            As for what an extra tax can do? It can help pay for new technologies to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses we produce. It can help pay for new satellites that can locate the largest sources of said greenhouse gasses and target those sources with gas-capturing technology–whereupon said gasses can be put to other uses which would be more productive and hopefully eliminate the added greenhouse effect produced by those gasses in their free form.

            By the way; one such satellite has just been launched and we should be seeing some results from its observations within months.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “I don’t expect you to agree with me. But my logic is undeniable.”
          No, your logic is illogical. It is based almost solely on your own needs and desires and takes no consideration of anybody else’s needs and desires. You have such a narrow point of view that you can’t imagine that ANYONE, not even a viable minority, could have a practical use for a BEV.

          • 0 avatar
            cartunez

            Ever heard of Mount Vesuvius? In terms of the witch doctor based “science” behind the global warming scaremongering this thing has been and could be much much worse than the entire existence of mankind. Once again don’t be fooled by the latest tax craze. Unless you can tell me how the tax is going to stop global warming. Does nature want to be bribed not to kill us now?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @cartunez: I can’t teach you how to think, I can only present the information that directly relates to your rants. If you can’t understand it, that’s not MY fault.

          • 0 avatar
            cartunez

            There is a term Vulpine “figures don’t lie BUT liars FIGURE”

            http://reason.com/archives/2014/07/03/did-federal-climate-scientists-fudge-tem

            Just one of many articles and studies that point out the voodoo science of the global warming hoax.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Who’s the one doing the “figuring” here? There’s much older data available that shows these so-called “trends” than a single or even multiple post-2000 reports supposedly changing “trends”. I, for one, have lived through some of it myself and there are certainly far more non-associated historical documents that can be used to determine “trends” than strictly scientific reports.

            There are many non-associated reports about how you could walk across the Thames for Christmas Holiday a mere 250 years ago. How do you explain that away? How do you explain away the acid rains eating away at 1,000-1,500 year-old architecture such as the Cathedral in Cologne and other locations around the world? Damages absolutely the direct result of man’s pollution as many of these monuments stood in pristine condition until society discovered coal could be used for so many purposes?

            CO2 is not the ONLY pollution that has put is where we are today, but it is the one we are producing more of than any other kind after all the other pollution control efforts. It wasn’t all that long ago that every major city in the world looked like China’s yellow skies. Even China has realized they made a mistake and it’s going to take them at least another decade to crawl out from under that cloud.

            That turns your own words back on you; “Figures don’t lie, but LIARS figure.”

          • 0 avatar
            cartunez

            I have no answers for your last post but I will research it. Thanks for the examples.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          On climate, you’re denying the consensus of probably 99% of scientists with expertise in the field.

          And “wealthy/rich people who line up for food stamps”? Only in your fevered imagination. Here in the real world, the max net income to receive them is 100% of the federal poverty level, and I have yet to meet a “wealthy/rich person” making $11,000 a year.

          This kind of chest-beating, willful ignorance is ruining our country. Give it a rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “The Model S only succeeds because of its size.”
      False statement. The Model S succeeds because it performs as advertised. Everything else you say there is Your Opinion Only.

    • 0 avatar
      goacom

      Many of us are rich enough to afford a Tesla S with or without the government subsidies. We buy cars to make a statement.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        And many of us buy cars to take kids to school, buy groceries and couldn’t care less if it’s a bowtie or a roundel on the hood, so long as the whip is fun to drive, gets reasonable mileage and doesn’t kill me on insurance.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @BTR: I hear you on the subsidies, but Tesla sales benefit less than Leaf sales because of them. If the subsidies went away, Nissan Leaf sales could dry up since subsidies comprise about 25% of the Leaf’s MSRP – not so with the Tesla.

      • 0 avatar

        SCE to AUX

        I agree with you. But the reason why Tesla doesn’t need the subsidy as much as Nissan is becuase the Model S and Model X are seen as “luxury” cars – being sold at “luxury” prices. Rich people don’t need subsidies to afford them any more than they need handouts to buy S-classes or RS7.

    • 0 avatar
      martinwinlow

      @ Bigtru…(yawn)! Ah, you again. Do you just enjoy annoying people? We understand that you don’t like EVs. Why spend your life commenting on EVs? It’s a bit tedious reading the same old EV-bashing twaddle every day. MW

  • avatar
    skog

    @Bigtrucksreview:

    For some reason there’s no “reply” button under your last post.

    But yeah, we need government subsidies to kick start EVs. I have no problem with that at all. I live in a country with large tax breaks and other benefits for EVs, and i am fine with my tax money going there.

    I just thought it was a very odd thing for you to drag into a conversation about space, range and charging possibilities.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry, I don’t believe that. I believe that the free market will gravitate towards “what makes sense”.

      There is no good reason “muscle cars” should exist and they don’t get subsidized. They get TAXED with guzzler taxes and other underhanded THIEVERY. But – the free market wants them.

      Same goes for SUV’s.

      A product that the free market SUPPORTS doesn’t need subsidies.

      If you people want to insult Chrysler, you should also say the same about GM and Ford (who heavily benefits from subsidies as well).

      You also can insult the other auto companies who have socialist governments backing them – as they are the main source of their nation’s income.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        “A product that the free market supports doesn’t need subsidies”. Are you sure? Because the mortgage industry is founded on the US Federal Government’s support to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Which means that by your logic, mortgage brokers are socialist lackeys. Remind us what you do for a living…

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    The wife and I both agreed that the smaller, cheaper Tesla will be our next car. By then, the Sonic will be paid off, and the downpayment I had been saving to buy a 2015 Mustang will have only grown larger.

    As far as going with steel, it’s a move that makes sense. I imagine components like the hood and possibly doors might still be made from aluminum to save wait, but building the chassis from steel will shave thousands of dollars from the cost (aluminum can be as much as 4x more expensive than steel).

    Give me a real-world driving range of 200 miles and a price tag under $40,000 and I’m sold.

    • 0 avatar

      Hope you’re right about Tesla using a mix of Steel and Aluminum. The Nissan LEAF use Aluminum for the doors/hood/fender to save on weight.

      BMW are the only manufacturer going with composites instead of metal. They maybe onto something if they can drop the cost of making the composites.

      • 0 avatar
        harshciygar

        If you read the actual quote, Chris Porritt, who is VP of engineering at Tesla, says it doesn’t make sense to make the whole car out of aluminum. To me that says there’s going to be a certain element of lightweight materials, and targeted material dieting can save 100+ pounds for minimal extra cost.

        It’s not going to make a HUGE difference, but enough to justify the cost. As far as BMW goes you have to consider that their EV is 30% more expensive than the Leaf, ($30,000 MSRP vs. $41,000 MSRP) but only goes about 15% farther without the almost $4,000 range extender option.

  • avatar
    dude500

    When is carbon fiber going to get cheap enough that all cars will use it?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Steel is stronger and cheaper.

    I’m not sure why this is news, but it seems to excite people almost as much as Ford using aluminum in its trucks.

    You know, this is how product development works – every product is a compromise between cost, performance, appearance, safety, manufacturability, and schedule.

  • avatar
    omer333

    I have no idea what you guys are talking about anymore.

    I thought we were talking about a Tesla that will retail around $35k and rivets.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Usual bulls**t press release from Tesla. Don’t think there was one last week, so it was obligatory this week. Got to keep the idiots fawning and the stock price up.

    I heartily recommend riveting steel and aluminum together – you get to watch galvanic corrosion in daylight.

    This whole Tesla thing is like those “financial” advisers who offer 8% annual returns, where the wealthy put their entire savings and are shocked, just shocked, when it turns out to be a scam. Right now Tesla appears to be scamming all levels of society to advance them capital a rational venture capitalist would not.

    Blue skies, green fields full of rainbow-hued wildflowers, grass fronds bending in the sylvan breezes, kids cavorting with Frisky the dog while Mom and Dad hold hands, their eyes locked together in rapture- that’s , what’s being sold here, not EVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So nice of you to jump to such ridiculous conclusions on something you know nothing about.

      “I heartily recommend riveting steel and aluminum together – you get to watch galvanic corrosion in daylight.”
      So where did the article say they would, “rivet steel and aluminum together”? Just because the article said they would use rivets it did not say WHERE they would use rivets.

      “Right now Tesla appears to be scamming all levels of society to advance them capital a rational venture capitalist would not.”
      And where is your proof of this, considering that Tesla is in every case actually manufacturing the products they claim and are selling more than a mere token number of ‘prototypes’?

      “Blue skies, green fields full of rainbow-hued wildflowers, grass fronds bending in the sylvan breezes, … that’s ,[sic] what’s being sold here ,…” Really?

      “… not EVs.” Then where are all these Tesla cars coming from?

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Lower weight steel for autos has been discussed for several years vs aluminum.
    It may be the key to a low cost Tesla.


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