Just how flexible is Tesla’s battery technology? Why aren’t they doing more with it? Why?
The Tesla Model S has been on sale for quite a while now: Since 2012 (USA) and 2013 (EU). By all accounts it is a pretty decent vehicle. We have issues here with its appearance though. I’ve always maintained that it’s too conservative a shape in relation to the technology under the skin.
It may very well have been a design that would have been almost contemporary in 2007. It’s now 2018 and the car still looks the same but 2007 is now a really long way back. Actually I don’t even think it would have looked good in 2007 either. There were several much more interesting designs around then that didn’t scare the horses. Water under the Zoobruecke. What I want to ask here today is how one canexplain why the Tesla Model S is sold only as a saloon/hatchback. We all know how tricky it is to develop a coupe from a saloon when the underlying mechanicals are of the traditional ICE sort. Re-arranging the components is necessary to suit coupe proportions. The more coupe it is the less you get to carry over, pushing up the cost.
Corollary: The less the main elements are moved the less successful is the coupe. Fact. How about an easier derivative then? Even ICE cars are routinely converted into estates. Depending on the basic design, an estate need not alter very much of the car below the waistline; all the action is in the roof and rear liftgate. So, readers, can anyone think of a reason why Tesla have not decided to produce a long roof version of the S?
North American readers might have a different outlook: estate cars don’t sell well in the upper premium category. Here in beautiful Europe they still do (the E-class and 5-series sell estate cars by the bucket load). Further, many other saloons are probably sold mostly as estates in Europe. The Mondeo and Insignia are estate cars with saloon variants, you could say. So, why hasn’t Tesla jumped at the chance to adapt their saloony hatch and make some more conquest sales? People like estates, even rich people.
The next point is that if making an estate car off the Tesla S is not hard at all, to make a coupe would only be moderately difficult in terms of packaging. Sure, the entire skin of the car would need to be massaged and a whole new set of tools made. So what. I seem to recall that one of the many advantages of an electric car was that such changes or such derivatives were not supposed to be so tricky: the wheels and powerpack are pretty much like a skateboard. Stick a new lid on the top, Bob’s your dad’s brother.
GM made that point with their Hy-Wire concept of 2002 (it was a hydrogen car, I know). And it is not hard to effectively drop a new body on top of an electric platform without having to move around a lot of components. I can imagine a Tesla coupe. It would accelerate faster than an Aston Martin V12 and have the same ludicrously short range. It’d cost less. It could look better than the sub-Hyundai style of the basis saloon. Sorry Mrs Hyundai – it has been a really long time since your cars were less than pretty good looking.
Tesla has since launched two other cars so now they have three. That’s quite scant, isn’t it? What I am ignoring in this discussion is that the demand for coupes is near rock bottom. Hell, I don’t even want one but they are nice to look at and it’s comforting to know they are there. They take up less room than crossovers as well.
A counter counterpoint is that demand for coupes is not so low as to make their provision a hiding to nothing. BMW and Audi sell some quite foxy coupes at the moment and they don’t assume losing money as part of their business plan. And if the electric power pack is so very flexible surely it would be easy enough to try to get some more sales by offering more choice. Or is it really the case that electric power packs do not make the provision of vehicle variants so much more easy than doing so with trad power packs? Or is Tesla just too busy to consider the matter. While I am here, let’s have a three door Tesla S estate.
(Post-script: every Tesla S which I have looked at has no rear centre arm-rest. This is hateful.)
Jan 13, 2018: Text amended to remove incorrect use of term “ICE” in places.