An interesting concept of a Tesla electric motorcycle, dubbed the Model M, has emerged in recent days. An independent designer, Jans Slapins from London, is responsible for the images, which present a fascinating virtual concept of the first potential motorcycle from the electric car manufacturer.
Model M concept envisaged
We Tesla having followed the Model monicker for previous vehicle releases, Slapins suggest that this next generation vehicle could be called the Model M, naturally M being for motorcycle. The machine in question would be powered by a 204 PS (150 kW) electric motor, and Slapins envisages that the vehicle could be driven by four computer-controlled modes – Race, Cruise, Standard, and Eco.
In many ways, the production of an electric motorcycle would make perfect sense for Tesla, attracting fans of the vehicle to its electric range. There is also a need for cash flow in the corporation, as the hotly anticipated Model 3 has reportedly been delayed, and the Model X has yet to go to market. Tesla is apparently rattling through its cash reserves at present, and the company would unquestionably welcome another revenue stream.
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Taplin’s design is particular interesting, with the Model M acquiring energy from lithium-ion batteries, that are installed as low as possible in the aluminum frame. Fans of motorcycles will also notice pretty quickly that the Model M concept features no transmission whatsoever.
It is also intended that this Model M concept utilizes the fuel tank location as a storage space. There is thus the potential to carry a full-face helmet in this section of the vehicle. Taplin also suggests that the wheels of the Model M could be constricted from carbon fibre in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle. This would lead to the power-to-weight ratio of the Model M being particularly impressive.
In order to ensure that Model M riders enjoy the smoothest journey possible, the suspension utilizes a mono-shock at the rear, and upside down forks at the front. Overall, the specifications of the Model M concepts are pretty impressive and innovative, and there is no doubt that this vehicle would attract a lot of attention if it ever materialized.
Tesla’s mixed fortunes
Tesla has enjoyed fluctuating fortunes in recent years, mainly owing to the fact that the electric car market is relatively embryonic and unpredictable. It is already a massive achievement for the corporation to have established itself in the ever competitive car marketplace, and it was perhaps too much to expect the stratospheric rise of Tesla stock to continue indefinitely.
Thus, the corporation has had to tolerate a cooling in its prospects in recent months and years, but the inimitable and charismatic CEO of the company, Elon Musk, remains bullish on the prospects of the corporation. A possible collaboration with, and even buyout by, Apple could have contributed to this positive feeling at the company, and sales figures have generally been positive for Tesla.
As to whether a Tesla Model M motorcycle could ever appear, it is of course notable that the electric car manufacturer has built up a reputation as purely producing the four-wheeled variety of motor vehicles. Since 2010, Tesla had manufactured an electric roadster and a range of stylish electric sedans, such as the Model S, with the Model X crossover currently being prepared for launch. There is no doubt that it is an exciting time for the company, even if it is an uncertain one, and the prospect of the electric car seems to be extremely positive at present.
It may thus be seen as an entirely natural move for Tesla to produce an electric motorcycle, broadening the scope of the company and attracting a wide range of new fans. Tesla certainly inspires a great deal of corporate loyalty, more than most companies, and its overall ethos of green and environmentally-friendly products delivered with style is certainly one that has achieved both popularity and notoriety.
Is the Model M feasible?
But one has to assess whether or not producing a Model M vehicle would actually be in Tesla’s best interests. Firstly, motorcycles don’t naturally fit into the Tesla ethos. The whole point of producing electric vehicles is to provide a wave of green transport that can help genuinely transform society. Motorcycles are too small in number to really achieve this, and ultimately it is a relatively minor niche that wouldn’t be guaranteed to generate a significant amount of revenue for Tesla.
Secondly, the amount of development required for an electric motorcycle compared to the potential revenue that it would generate could make this a non-starter. Tesla already has cash flow difficulties, at least according to recent reports, so it is hardly likely to sink a significant portion of its increasing cash base into a project that will deliver relatively minimal returns.
And finally, it is debatable whether the existing Tesla technology would be ideally compatible with a motorcycle. Space is always at a premium with any form of motorbike, and this is particularly rarefied with electric vehicles. In an electric motorcycle, the battery pack may be the largest single component in the vehicle, and long range requires substantial packs to be carried in the narrow, tall space between riders’ legs.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem in itself, but it is notable that Tesla currently uses cylindrical batteries that have gaps between them when stacked together. This would mean that the electric car manufacturer would have to completely redesign its battery packs to produce an electric motorcycle, and this would vastly increase research and development costs, and greatly reduce the practicality of manufacturing such a vehicle.
There is no doubt that the prospect of a Model M motorcycle is an exciting one, and it is certainly something that Tesla could consider in the medium-term future. But there is no immediate prospect of Tesla producing a Model M motorcycle considering the logistical considerations involved. Tesla must concentrate on producing solid revenue streams from its existing planned vehicles, and grow the reputation and customer base of the company before engaging in any niche projects.