Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has exclusively revealed to Auto Express plans for a new electric BMW 3 Series rival, including its name – Tesla Model 3.
There were rumours that a new smaller Tesla Gen III model was to be called Model E, but in one of his most candid interviews yet, Musk revealed why he had to have a rethink on the name.
"We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car," Musk told us. "So I said we had the model S and X, we might as well have the E.
"We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E – I thought this is crazy, Ford's trying to kill sex! So we'll have to think of another name.
"The new model is going to be called Model 3, we'll have three bars to represent it and it'll be S III X!"
Tesla: UK research and development base plansMusk announced on his recent trip to the UK that he planned to set up a research and development base over here and it could be up and running in time to feed into the Model 3 project.
The new car is rumoured to be about 20% smaller than the Model S and our image shows how it could look. Key to the new model, which Musk said should retail for around $35,000 (likely to equate to around £30,000 in the UK), is cheaper battery technology made possible by Tesla's forthcoming Gigafactory.
Tesla Model 3: realistic range of over 200 milesMusk also confirmed that he expected the new car to have a realistic range of over 200 miles with strong performance, like the Model S. "We want people to fall in love with their car and look forward to driving it," he told us.
As with the Model S and the upcoming Model X, the Model 3 will come with free use of Tesla's Supercharger network, which Musk said will enable Tesla owners to drive the length and breadth of the UK by the end of 2015. And if you want to buy a Tesla, you have to buy it direct from one of the company's own retailers rather than through a traditional dealer.
It's a recipe that's obviously working – Musk plans to sell around 35,000 cars this year, but the Model III is likely to propel sales well into six figures by the end of this decade.
What do you think of Tesla's plan to break into the compact executive car market with the Model 3? Can it succeed where so many have failed? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below...