Tesla prepares to spread its wings with bold, new products

Complicated Model X will come to market later this year

Published: February 12, 2015 03:30 PM
Tesla Model X concept

Photo: David Dewhurst Photography

Tesla lost $108 million last quarter. But that didn’t dampen the company’s enthusiasm for a range of new products the company has coming on its quarterly earnings call last night.

First up is Tesla’s Model X SUV, which Musk confirmed will begin full-scale deliveries in the fourth quarter this year, though early models will begin trickling out this summer. The electric crossover was supposed to begin deliveries late last year, but it has been delayed as the company worked to perfect the car’s unique falcon wing doors and “the most beautifully designed second-row seats you’ve ever seen,” said Musk. “It turns out there’s a reason other companies haven’t tried this,” he explained.

Next, Musk said the Tesla Model 3 will not take such avant-garde technological leaps, in order to keep the lower-priced electric car on schedule. He confirmed the plan to launch it in 2017. “More adventurous” versions of the smaller Model 3 platform may come later, Musk said.

Musk also confirmed that future versions of the Model S and Model X will live alongside the Model 3, giving the company a three-model line-up.

Photo: David Dewhurst Photography

Read our complete Tesla Model S road test, and see our related videos.

Other tidbits from the call…

Tesla online forums have been full of stories about defective drive motors whining in Model Ss, although Consumer Reports subscribers in total have reported average reliability for the Model S in our Annual Auto Survey, based on responses from 1,353 owners/subscribers. Musk and Tesla Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel says the problem (blamed on some gear sets that hadn’t been greased sufficiently) has been resolved and that the company has replaced motors in most of the affected cars. Musk also says those motors are now being rebuilt and reused.

Perhaps the biggest news on Tesla’s earnings call had nothing do to with cars. Musk announced that in the next couple of months the company will introduce a stationary battery pack for consumer use at home. The batteries could be used for backup power in a storm, for example, or even to connect to solar panels so daytime solar power could be used to power your lights at night, for example.

As Tesla works on building the world’s largest battery factory, known as the Gigafactory, in Nevada, it is also bidding to install large batteries at power plants.

In spite of its fourth-quarter loss in 2014, Musk is confident the company will be in business for the long term, and he adds that by 2025, it may have trouble finding how to invest all its revenue.

– Eric Evarts

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