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- Nov 22, 2019
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So this might be repetitive, as we have had similar conversations in other threads, but I have often pondered what the "$25k Tesla" would be. Let me preface my thoughts on the subject to frame my arguments somewhat:To continue, If Tesla makes a $25k car it would need to be very different from M3. By different I think primarily small. I am thinking ~30% smaller than the M3.
The Bolt is technically a 5 seater at 70" wide. A true 4 seater could be 62"?? wide with a arm rest/divider. With 4 passengers the rear storage would be very small, not suitable for an airport shuttle, but with the ability to fold down a rear seat or 2 then 2-3 people could still do a road trip.
I suspect Tesla has been working on the $25k car with a small team, maybe in China per the original rumor this whole time. Delivery times are way down and the time to announce might be November with the quickest production ramp yet.
A one piece cast frame with BYD LFP blade batteries around 45kWhrs would make a safe and cheap tiny car.
From a "holistic" material and time of use perspective I think that we should all be driving a tandem two seater tadpole trike, or a 9-12seater van. The reason I say this is simply the passenger per vehicle per km distribution would make these two vehicle cover 90% of km's driven, without considerably impacting user convivence. That's simply the most common forms of passenger kms driven, the 9 seater van capable of any passenger number (within "normal" family sizes) and then optimised to filter out the under 3 passengers into a highly optimised 2 seater that would use less than a quarter of the energy the van would (or a CT for that matter). This is because of the frontal surface area of a single sea wide vehicle can be that much smaller and so much more streamlined over the length of the vehicle, and could be made in a single cast at very low cost even sub $15k is still profitable, seeing battery and drivetrain is also a quarter of the size and cost with the same performance.
The reason why van and not sedan, SUV, truck etc, is simply the volumetric efficiency of a van is superior in all cases as it uses the least amount of materials for the internal volume whilst being structural, and the manufacturing difference between a van and a sedan is inconsequential, especially if you actually need to transport minimum two or more people and the things they require, hence not using the optimized 2 seater trike option.
Now with that out of the way, we can pretty much be certain that Tesla, or in this case, in particular EM won't be going down the three wheeler pathway, although I believe his trike stability argument to be flawed.
So we will get a 4 wheeler sub $25k car, but will it be a robotaxi? Or will the robotaxi be a van and cost more than $25k? And if the van is the "robotaxi", will there ever be a reason for a $25k Tesla at all?
This is a pretty important question I think, because at some point, in the not to distant future, as soon as driverless FSD is legalized, vehicle sales to private customers would gradually cease as robotaxi becomes ubiquitous with mass transportation. If that is the case, then will there at all be a need for a full range of car models? What are the sweet spots we can condense it down to, carrying in mind that with every optimization each vehicle will be more than luxurious enough even for discerning users. Look at what is standard in a M3 already, unthinkable in 1990's. I see this becoming even more so in the next 5-10 years. Let alone the disruption of the freight industry as well etc.
So if we end up with a comfortable, self driving (chauffeur anyone?), efficient, traffic reducing, and cents on the mile cheap transportation, where exactly can the car industry "improve" to? What feature is still missing that will add value to the car industry, within the physical limits of wheels on a road? I think at some point we will reach a saturation point for wheeled transport, and then go the flying route to get travel times down.
So do we even get the chance to buy a purpose built $25k model? Possibly not.
A subsidized M3 might be the last chance we get.