Despite having a backorder of vehicles to complete, Tesla has closed its San Francisco manufacturing plant in order to launch its sport-utility model. Industry observers say the company’s emphasis on the SUV is a response to sales trends: “SUVs (and crossover models) passed a milestone in May by outselling sedans in the American market for light vehicles (36.5% to 35.4%).” But if Tesla is truly looking for mass appeal, it may find it in the upcoming Model 3 vehicle. “At a starting price of around $35,000, a third of the cost of a top-range Model S, Tesla wants the car to compete against the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Purely electric vehicles–ones which use no gasoline at all for power–currently represent just 1% of the American market. At fault more than America’s gasoline guzzling car culture is the limited abilities of rechargeable batteries. Even the most sophisticated ones are massively expensive, have limited range, and take too long to charge. But Tesla aims to change that. Using a network of so-called “Superchargers,” 440-volt DC systems that can yield an 80% recharge in about 30 minutes, Tesla made a coast-to-coast 3,300-mile drive from California to New York in 76 hours.