Tesla’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel was at the University of Nevada, Reno earlier this week to talk to students and announce a new internship program for the company’s Gigafactory. As part of its Gigafactory deal, Tesla is pumping $1 million into the University of Nevada’s Battery research program.
During his presentation, Straubel confirmed that after launching the Model X last month, Tesla now shifted its core focus on the anticipated next generation vehicle: the Model 3. The CTO said that most employees are now working on the project:
“This is the vehicle we are actually developing today, most of the people inside Tesla are no longer working on the S or X, but they are hard at work designing and inventing all the technologies going into the Model 3.”
The Model 3 is expected to have a starting price of $35,000 before any incentives and a range of more than 200 miles. The company is working on a new battery architecture to achieve such a significant price reduction.
Tesla is developing the Model 3 alongside its battery factory which they expect will reduce battery cost by at least 30% through economy of scale and a new chemical structure.
The company is building the Model 3 on a whole new platform, which they are calling “third generation”, with the Roadster being the first, and the Model S and X being built on the same second generation platform. During the Q&A part of the talk, a student asked Straubel how much of the technologies developed in the second generation will transfer to the third:
“For better or worst, most of model 3 has to be new. [with the ] X, we were able to build with a lot of common components with S, but with the Model 3 we can’t do that. We are inventing a whole new platform […] It’s a new battery architecture. It’s a new motor technology [and] a brand new vehicle structure. It’s a lot of work. It’s a thing we started on a few years ago. As I mention, it’s kind of the core focus inside the company now looking at R&D and engineering investment.”
Tesla will release the Model Y on the same platform. While the Model 3 is expected to be a small sedan, the Y is believed to be a crossover with ‘Falcon Wing’ doors like the Model X.
The automaker aims at bringing to market those two new models in 2017, doubling Tesla’s lineup to four S3XY models.
You can watch Straubel’s entire talk here:
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