Word has it that Tesla is planning to come out with an affordable EV for the masses by 2015 — perhaps with a post tax credit price of around $30,000.
That’s the good news.
The bad news?
Tesla executives are hinting that the affordable EV will not look as “conventional” as the Tesla Model S, which a few lucky U.S. consumers now have their hands on.
More personality needed? “We will become more experimental as we develop as a brand,” Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen told Autocar recently. “Our cars need to have some personality.”
While its lines, curves and general exterior design might indeed be somewhat conventional, the Tesla S Model is far and away the best looking EV out there, with an appearance that’s 100 times more appealing than the less conventionally designed Nissan LEAF.
While the LEAF’s spacey, bulbuous look might click with many of the early EV adopter techie-types who want their car to stick out as something that’s clearly different, its design doesn’t appeal to the majority of car buyers, who — like me — want a sporty looking vehicle, not a goofy looking car.
Tesla’s S Model, on the other hand, may not scream EV — really, the main thing the LEAF screams is “weird” as, despite its unconventional design, 99 percent of drivers still have no idea it’s actually an EV — but the S Model’s design definitely appeals to far more people than the LEAF’s.
It’s okay if Tesla pushes the design parameters a bit with its 2015 “affordable” EV. However, it’d better not push the boundaries too far, at least not if the goal is to pull in buyers beyond the early EV techie-type adopters who, while they may not want conventional looks, also make up a very tiny percentage of car buyers.