The Tesla supremo Elon Musk has once again been speaking about the future of the company, floating some particularly interesting product ideas in Hong Kong. Probably the most notable of these is the idea of a Tesla submarine; certainly this forthcoming Tesla idea has generated a significant amount of headlines.
Musk talks Tesla Model 3
Musk was speaking at the StartmeupHK festival, where the CEO of the innovative electric car company was talking about his vision of the future direction of the company. Perhaps financial issues have focused the collective mind at Tesla, as the stock market performance of the corporation has not exactly been outstanding in 2016.
With this in mind, Musk was firstly keen to talk about the upcoming Model 3; a mass-market electric car expected to be the cheapest that Tesla has ever produced. Indeed, the company itself has suggested that the Model 3 may retail at $35,000, although some analysts have queried this figure, and suggested that a price tag some $10,000 more lofty should be considered more realistic.
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Tesla’s product line currently comprises a saloon car, the Model S, and a compact SUV, the Model X. But with the consumer demand for trucks in that United States always large, it is clear that the market-leading electric car manufacturer wishes to diversify its product line rapidly in this favorable direction. And Musk confirmed this notion speaking at the StartmeupHK festival. “I think it is quite likely we will do a truck in the future. I think it’s sort of a logical thing for us to do in the future.,” Musk stated.
Tesla sub mooted
But aside from this workaday and quite plausible vehicle, Tesla also has a much more niche, yet ambitious and fun idea up its sleeve as well. The notion of a submersible Tesla vehicle was not dismissed by the CEO of the company, although he has admitted previously that the market for such vehicles is rather small.
Yet Musk has shown enthusiasm for this project in the past, not least by purchasing the $1 million Lotus submarine that was utilized by the James Bond character in The Spy Who Loved Me. Musk signaled his intention to “upgrade it with a Tesla electric power train and try to make it transform for real,” and this working prototype could yet lead to a relatively mass-market Tesla submarine.
On the Model 3, the inimitable CEO of the company was pretty effusive about the possibilities of the vehicle. The Model 3 is intended to be the car that launches Tesla to a mainstream audience, and thus there will be a lot of sales pitches from the corporation between now and its ultimate release date.
What was unsurprising was that Musk was pushing this forthcoming vehicle release strongly in Hong Kong. “[The Model 3] is a smaller version of the Model S. It won’t have quite as many bells and whistles but it will be at a much lower price point. The intent is to roughly cut the price in half… and I think really that is going to be the most profound car that we make, because that will be a very compelling car at an affordable price.”
It is expected that this vehicle will ultimately make its public debut at the Geneva motor show (the Salon international de l’automobile de Genève, to be precise), which means that we are only weeks away from getting our first glimpse of the hotly anticipated vehicle. The event in Switzerland will begin on March 1 this year, and the press already has high expectations of the Model 3. Tesla has proclaimed that this will be an electric family car that will rival established vehicles such as the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.
Autonomous vehicles discussed
Aside from the Model 3, Musk also took the time to muse on the future of autonomous vehicles. This is a technology that Tesla has been strongly linked with in the past, and it seems like the sort of innovation that would particularly suit the image and reputation of the electric car manufacturer. Indeed, Tesla vehicles can partially drive themselves already, if only on motorways, but the CEO of the company believes that the industry will rapidly move in the autonomous direction in the foreseeable future.
Commenting on industry trends, the CEO of Tesla suggested that “ultimately the whole industry will be producing autonomous cars. If you fast forward 10, certainly not more than 15 years, I think almost all cars produced will be autonomous.”
But Musk, as usual, has a unique vision for the way that autonomous vehicles will develop. Although autonomous cars will be relatively conventional in the near future, Musk believes that in the long run such vehicles will ultimately retail without any driver controls at all. Musk even juxtaposed these vehicles of the future with owning a horse.
“If you go long-long term there isn’t a steering wheel in most cars, but I want to say, predictions are not endorsements… In the long term, I think owning a car that does not have autonomous ability will be a bit like owning a horse. You own a horse for sentimental reasons but not for actual transport,” Musk commented.
With submarines, trucks, autonomous vehicles and its first mass-market car on the horizon, there is plenty for Tesla to be excited about. Which is just as well, as the share price of the company has essentially been walloped thus far in 2016. Tesla shares have fallen nearly 20 per cent this year, after dropping another 3 per cent on Tuesday down to $191. To put this figure into perspective, in 2014, Tesla stock peaked at nearly $300.
Nonetheless, although this will undoubtedly be worrying for the company, it is nothing particularly out of the ordinary for Tesla. Its stock has fluctuated in the past, owing to the fact that the electric car marketplace is still relatively unstable and embryonic. With Tesla intending to deliver as many as 100,000 vehicles in 2016, the many bulls of the company could yet be vindicated during this calendar year.