Tesla’s new Model III lineup won’t consist of just one model. Tesla Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel announced at the EIA Energy Conference in Washington D.C. that a Model III crossover will be available in addition to the sedan. The news comes courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, which says the new Model III crossover will be available in 2017 — the same year the sedan debuts.

Tesla has previously confirmed the sedan will start at $35,000, and as Tesla CEO Elon Musk told a conference in New Orleans about a week ago, will have a range of 250 miles, 50 miles more than the company’s original estimate. Straubel and Musk declined to share any additional information about the Model III crossover. Expect it to be a bit more expensive than the sedan but also a more-affordable alternative to the mid-size 2016 Tesla Model X, deliveries of which Musk says will begin in a few months.

The Model III crossover will likely use the same chassis and drivetrain as the sedan, but expect maximum range to take a slight hit due to its taller aerodynamic profile. We already know the sedan will take aim at the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, so expect the Model III crossover to be positioned against the X3, GLC and Q5.

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Why it matters

Straubel says he expects Tesla to be selling 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020, and the Model III crossover will play a big part in helping the company reach that goal. He went on to say that other new models are in the works as well, but would not elaborate. We would expect to see Tesla venture into both full-size and compact segments following the Model III’s introduction. We wouldn’t mind seeing a new sports car in the mold of the Tesla Roadster either.

Tesla is projected to sell about 55,000 cars by the end of 2015, so it has a lot of work to do if it wants to add 445,000 units to that number within five years. New models will definitely be needed, but better and cheaper battery technology will also be crucial. Both Musk and Straubel expect batteries to get cheaper by as much $100 less per kWh over the next 10 years, or roughly half what they cost now. That’s where Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 comes in — a $5 billion facility near Reno, Nevada where batteries for cars and Tesla’s Powerwall home battery pack will be manufactured.

2017 Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3 Interior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our speculative review of the Model III here.

Source: WSJ

James Wolfcale
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