Tesla teases with this tasty hatchback concept

Keep in mind that what you’re looking at is nothing more than a sketch. A hell of a nice sketch from  the Art Center College Of Design in California student, Hyonwoo Jason Kim. Tesla is working towards an affordable, entry level all-electric car and this concept looks like a mighty good start. 

Their last entry-level concept didn’t look half as good. 

The trick here is to keep the weight down, technology cheap and overall price affordable when building a vehicle like this. Some journalistic outlets are dubious that Tesla can make a sub $20,000 vehicle for the masses. I think it’s just a matter of time and profitability. If the Tesla Model-S and Model-X do well, they will be able to radically lower the overhead for production. If that happens, then it’s just a matter of creating a cheaper drive system for the baby Tesla – right?

I know, I’m oversimplifying this. It will also take a large amount of demand, perhaps from China, to help with this endeavor.

The bottom line is: when the production can be made cheaper, when lightweight materials can be less exotic (or expensive) than carbon-fiber/aluminum and if there is enough demand – Mr. Hyonwoo Jason Kim’s design could become a reality.

I tried to conceive what the baby Tesla would be like, both dynamically and internally. Keep in mind, this is all speculation based on what I currently know about Tesla’s capabilities. Here is some guess-ti-mation:

  • The regular Tesla Model-S weighs over 4,600 lbs – which is a lot. Given its in-city transport job description, and the fact that it’s not meant to be a performance machine, I think a (less-than) 3,500 lbs curb weight is possible.
  • The 60 kWh microprocessor controlled, lithium-ion battery may be slightly altered to use less computing power to run.
  • I think they will keep the liquid-cooled powertrain, battery, motor, drive inverter, and gear box. Air cooling may be a cheaper alternative, but Tesla has achieved good success with liquid cooling – so it makes sense that they keep it.
  • Same goes for the single-speed fixed gear automatic transmission (with 9.73:1 reduction ratio). They have perfected the use of this transmission and I doubt they would opt for another one. This means, the baby Tesla may be rear-drive… hallelujah!
  • The current Tesla Model-S, with its three phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor, is capable of the equivalent of 235, 302, 362 and 416 horsepower, depending on the kW that you select. The base motor, which should be the cheapest to produce,  is capable of 235 hp, which is 175 kW and 310 lbs-feet of torque – which equals 420 Nm. That’s a lot for a regular vehicle and, if they do put this motivator in a vehicle that weighs under 3,500 lbs, it will be a friggin’ rocket.
  • Range on the big Tesla Model-S, with the small motor/power-pack, is about 160 miles. With a lighter vehicle with less overall drag, I bet they can increase that range to nearly 200 miles. That’s what they were nearly getting with the Roadster, when driven correctly.
That’s about as far as my speculation goes. Tesla stinks at providing press cars or access to their vehicles for The Fast Lane Car. Tesla is an odd-ball company that sucks with journalistic PR, but kicks ass with innovation. I forgive them their neglect in providing access to their Model-S as we’ve driven their Roadster. We know they are spacey about PR decorum – but, I hope they give us access to their other products as time moves on.
Up here, at high altitude, electric cars suffer no power loss whatsoever. That’s a hell of a good staring point. Add to that the fact that we are fans of their technology (and Elon Musk’s brother has a home in the Rockies), and we’re hopeful that we get more insight/access to Tesla’s toys.
Regardless of my bellyaching – I hope they build the baby Tesla soon.
Here’s a video of a Ford C-Max plug-in hybrid that may compete with the baby Tesla:
Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.