Speaking of China - Tesla's Thinking Small

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
speaking of china teslas thinking small

While we’re on the subject of American (or somewhat American) automakers looking to beat the Chinese at their own EV game, Tesla has announced a new direction in that massive electric vehicle market.

With Model 3s now rolling into buyers’ hands from its just-opened Shanghai assembly plant, the automaker has turned its eye to the lower end of the market.

Chinese “new energy” vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, but small and affordable is where the big volume is, and it’s currently where Tesla’s product line isn’t. Despite price decreases in the works for the Model 3 (which topped $50,000 to start in China), it’s still a hefty chunk of yuan. And the upcoming Model Y crossover won’t satisfy anyone’s desire for a cheaper Tesla.

So, Tesla has its eye on a new research and design center in the EV-hungry nation. The automaker issued a call-out to prospective employees this week, releasing a sketch depicting — with typical design studio exaggeration — the kind of vehicle it’s looking for.

The recruiting effort for designers of “Chinese-style” vehicles was made on WeChat, China’s main social media platform.

While such a vehicle would target Chinese buyers first and foremost, that country isn’t the only one with a keen interest in small electric vehicles. CEO Elon Musk has talked up the idea of a small global vehicle in the past, using the company’s expanding Chinese presence as a home base. Such a model would surely make its way to Europe, at the very least.

The timeline for a new small Tesla? Not imminent, obviously.

[Image: Tesla]

Join the conversation
  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 17, 2020

    I personally think it's a good idea. If it can also be made sporty and have at least 150 miles of range, I think it would sell well in nearly every market.

    • See 3 previous
    • Lokki Lokki on Jan 19, 2020

      @ect Yes, etc - Your point is valid and absolutely correct.

  • Redgolf Redgolf on Jan 17, 2020

    GM has already beat Tesla to the punch - https://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2019/feb/0214-ariv.html New ARĪV eBikes From GM Are Available for Preorder

    • See 1 previous
    • PandaBear PandaBear on Jan 17, 2020

      E bikes have been in China since 2009, nothing new here.

  • PandaBear PandaBear on Jan 17, 2020

    So would this be called Model 1 or Model C? They might be able to cut some length from the trunk and reduce the power a bit, and therefore some of the safety standard (as it won't be that fast if hitting a tree). Smaller batteries for the urban folks too?

  • V8fairy V8fairy on Jan 17, 2020

    They could take a lead from the Cybertruck design and use flat panels as far as possible, which would save costs. Make it a very utilitarian looking thing, would be both cheaper and a significant point of difference in the market

    • HotPotato HotPotato on Jan 18, 2020

      A small sporty Cybersomething would be an honest-to-God latter-day DeLorean. Bring it on.