Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), which has almost tripled in market value this year, plans to expand its line of electric vehicles to at least four with a compact sport-utility vehicle, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said.
After expanding production and deliveries of its $69,900 Model S sedan this year and adding the battery-powered Model X SUV in late 2014, the carmaker will begin adding lower-priced vehicles, Musk said in a CNBC interview today.
“In about three to four years, that’s when we aspire to bring into production a sedan that’s about half the price of the Model S, and then shortly thereafter a small SUV as well,” said Musk, who is also Palo Alto, California-based Tesla’s biggest shareholder. “These should be quite affordable. The price would be on the order of $35,000.”
The carmaker, named for inventor Nikola Tesla, this month established its best financial footing since its founding a decade ago. Tesla’s first quarterly profit was followed by a top rating from Consumer Reports for the Model S and a share-price surge. Investor demand created an opportunity to raise $1 billion from selling equity and debt and to retire its U.S. Energy Department loan nine years early.
Musk yesterday announced an expansion of the company’s supercharger stations that rapidly repower its all-electric cars to let customers drive across the U.S. from coast to coast by the end of the year.
Musk has said the lower-priced sedan Tesla is developing will be about 20 percent smaller than the Model S and compete with entry-level premium cars such as Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW 3 Series and Audi AG’s A4.
Tesla has a “meaningful” announcement set for June 20, Musk told CNBC today. He made a similar comment on yesterday’s conference call to discuss the charge-network expansion.
Following that, Musk said, he’ll begin discussing details of a rapid transportation proposal called the “hyperloop.”
“It will be a really great way to travel between cities and it will be a good mode of transport,” he told CNBC. “It’s not a mode of transport that currently exists.”
Such a system would be “better than a high-speed rail or plane between the right cities, like San Francisco or LA or New York-Boston, that kind of thing.”
A hyperloop system could be done at “probably a tenth of the cost” of California’s planned high-speed rail system, which he said may have a price tag as high as $100 billion.
Musk didn’t elaborate on how the system would work or who might fund it.
Tesla fell 6.9 percent to $97.76 at the close in New York, its first closing price under $100 since May 24. The shares gained 189 percent this year, compared with a 15 percent increase for the Russell 1000 Index.
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