Tesla Motors chairman Elon Musk reiterated his company’s ambitious plans for growth on Tuesday afternoon in Detroit. Musk was in town to accept the automotive executive of the year award at the Detroit Athletic Club, a stone landmark where car execs have met for decades to wheel and deal. On a bright blue day with the General Motors tower gleaming in the background, the 38-year-old South African said the transition to electric cars was the most significant development for automaking since Henry Ford introduced mass production on the assembly line.
Musk said that Tesla will offer more models besides the Roadster and the Model S sedan in its ambitious plans for growth.
The Tesla Model S sedan is due out in 2012 and will sell for less than half the price of the Roadster at about US$50 000, including a federal tax credit. Musk said that around the same time that Tesla launches the Model S, it will stop producing the Roadster and will come out with a successor in late 2013. He also said that more Tesla products are to follow, including a crossover. Four-wheel-drive will also be offered on future Tesla vehicles.
We’ve previously heard plans for a BMW 3-Series sized electric sedan by 2015 that is expected to raise total annual production for Tesla to around 200 000 units a year. Musk said that affordability of Tesla vehicles will increase with each new product and that by the time the third model arrives, the company’s vehicles are expected to be attainable for mainstream customers.
Interestingly, Musk said he expects Tesla’s most significant impact to be supplying its fresh technology to other companies, rather than through its own products. Tesla has a deal with German giant Daimler and will supply batteries and chargers for the next electric Smart car. Tesla also will supply electric technology for the Mercedes A-class, which is sold in Europe. Daimler owns about eight percent of Tesla. The California company also has a deal with commercial-vehicle maker Freightliner.
“The smallest effect Tesla will make will be the cars we make ourselves,” Musk said. “The biggest effect will be the cars they [other companies] make.”