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Just a thought: A Convertible version of the Model S

I did a quick Google search on the Tesla site and I didn't find any mention of a convertible Model S. I can't imagine I am the only person who thinks that this car would look awesome as a convertible even though it might no longer be a hatchback.

I think a huge focus on this car is keeping the drag coefficient down, and making it a convertible would be a huge counter to that goal. I think the compromise here has been to provide a massive sunroof that lets in a lot of light but retains the car's aerodynamics.

They haven't said if the sunroof will be an option or come standared (at least not that I'm aware), but I have seen shots of it floating around. It's quite sexy. :)

Given success and (finger crossed) solvency, I'm sure they'll spin the Model S off to Model C (coupe) and Model CV (?) for convertible (Model W for station wagon? OK, I digress...).

I agree, a convertible version would be awesome, aerodynamics be damned, especially for drivers suffering Roadster abstinence.

Coupe, convertible, cross-over, SUV—it's all good over the long term. But right now, I hope Tesla stays focused on getting the Model S into production asap. If it's executed as well as I hope it will be, the Model S will set the stage for everything that follows.

I think those other projects are already in design-table. Tesla is pretty much currently concentrating on getting manufacturing and final details right for Model S, so basic designing work is already done for it, and it would be just stupid to keep Franz and assorted staff idle waiting for Model S to get finished before starting new design.

OK, so in the previous linked document, one can find a range for the price / kWh including electronics (page 8), nice improvements of the power train compared to the Roadster (page 10), and a graph with the growth of Model S reservations (page 16). And of course, many other bounties. In a previous version of this document (same link but new document) there were some sketches of future models, as the Model X, a cabriolet and a van (I would speculate they are not representative anymore and / or are kept as secrets until the right time).

They haven't said if the sunroof will be an option or come standared (at least not that I'm aware) (Brad Holt)

They have: The panoramic glass roof and rear-facing child seats are planned optional upgrades.
http://www.teslamotors.com/models/faq

Also, they said: The standard roof will accommodate roof racks that mount on door frames.
http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-designing-perfect-endurance-athlete

Which, to me, is another way of saying that you cannot mount roof racks on the panoramic roof. Well, probably no surprise.

Ha! I knew that and totally forgot. Thanks for the reminder Volker! :P

Regarding the convertible S. Historically, there have been few 4 door convertibles. They are not especially popular (volume wise), and it takes a great deal of weight and engineering to stiffen the chassis. I suppose you could wait for Nissan to electrify the Murano…but that is just too awful. Best to wait for the coupe. However, keep in mind the X is the next high priority.

Tesla needs to stay focused. Getting NUMMI production ready, supplies-parts inventory, trained labor, etc. is a huge and costly undertaking. My concerns are: does Tesla have the resources to produce the S, and will 20,000 units produce enough $$$ for them to continue independently? I suspect Tesla will ultimately be bought out by Daimler or Toyota. You can build a low volume –pricey Roadster to prove your technology. A real production line requires very deep pockets.

I admire Elon Musk, I think he is wrong wanting to build an “affordable” electric car for the masses. Tesla should focus on producing premium vehicles with an emphasis on performance, smooth-quietness, and redefine the driving experience. Soon enough volume manufacturers will electrify their IC/hybrid cars. They will have an economy of scale that Tesla can’t touch.

In reading the forums and blogs I feel Tesla may be putting a little too much emphasis on aerodynamics and handling. Specifically, extremely low ground clearance. I would trade a bit of both for the peace of mind that my S won’t bottom out, or scrape the front underside.

@petero wrote:I admire Elon Musk, I think he is wrong wanting to build an “affordable” electric car for the masses. Tesla should focus on producing premium vehicles with an emphasis on performance, smooth-quietness, and redefine the driving experience. Soon enough volume manufacturers will electrify their IC/hybrid cars. They will have an economy of scale that Tesla can’t touch.

I suspect that the promise to build an "affordable" EV is more a political decision that a solid business-strategic decision. Although I'm not privy to the conditions that are part of acquiring government loan guarantees either now or going forward, I have to believe the feds would be hard pressed to justify a loan guarantee for a "luxury car" maker. On the other hand, a loan for affordable EVs that would be accessible to the masses (i.e., <$30,000) is an entirely different matter.

I agree with @petero when he states: Tesla needs to stay focused. Getting NUMMI production ready, supplies-parts inventory, trained labor, etc. is a huge and costly undertaking. Certainly, an advanced projects team within Tesla is already working on the Model X and possibly others, but the resources of the company have to be dedicated to getting the Model S out the door into the hands of the public. It's a make or break objective, and if it slips, Tesla will lose much needed credibility.

Soflauthor makes a very good point about gov't loans on 'luxury' vehicles. The good news, the heavy lifting on X has been done on the S. The bad news, premium electric cars ( S and X) will take a few years to build up a volume. Hope I'm wrong.

I think petero may have misunderstood the thought behind the thread... The idea wasn't so much to try and direct TM's immediate R&D efforts, but more of a "wouldn't it be cool if..." kind of day-dreaming. :-)
Also, I wouldn't envision this as a 4-door convertible, but a 2-door of course. Think Volvo C70 version of Volvo S70.

Of course, I have no idea how much work there actually is behind spinning off a 2-door version of a sedan, maybe less than one would think. Anyway, first things first.

As far as ground clearance goes, well that's what Model X will satisfy I presume...

Looking at the Summer 2011 presentation to investors, I don't think it's accurate to say that Tesla is planning on building an "affordable" car. The three market segments identified are:

  • Performance vehicles (Roadster vs. Porsche et al.)
  • Premium vehicles (Models S and X vs. BMW, Audi, Lexus, MB)
  • Small Premium vehicles (Gen III vs. VW, BMW, Audi, MB)

Elon isn't planning (publicly, yet) to go up against Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. As I read it, "affordable" is a relative term: an Audi A3 is a more affordable car than the Audi A6.

"Affordable", as I read it, is not cheap, just low enough cost that ordinary people can afford it if they really want one. Model S is already close to that goal with $57k, $30k is affordable to ordinary people. It is still quite expensive if you look at the average price of cars people drive, but not beyond reach of Joe Average.

National Averages
The average worker in the United States earns an average hourly wage of $20.90, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2010-2011 occupational handbook. This rings up to an average annual salary of $43,460.

Read more: The Average Annual Salary in America | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_7746957_average-annual-salary-america.html#ixzz...

That is what I expected. $30k is affordable enough that Joe Average can afford it, but might not buy it given cheaper alternatives.

BTW that is cheaper than basic Toyota Prius costs here: $44k. Crazy, right?

Trnsl8r is correct. I don't want them to change focus. This thread was merely a "wouldn't it be cool if" thread.

I would assume it would become a two door as well although suicide doors would be cool (here I go again... ) :)

I think a convertable is a great idea. Now that they have a "skateboard" chassis they can snap any body they want on it.

My wife has a Volvo C70 Hardtop Convertable, 2 door, 4 passenger, which is a very similar size and shape to the S. In considering the S, I keep thinking why do I need two trunks, when I can use part of one to store the retracting top, AND with the better space allocation, I'll still have a large rear trunk, AND a larger seating for adults in the rear.

But we shall have to wait for another model and year for that. Gonna be cool though....

Check out a Volvo C70 though if you want an idea of how a Tesla "C" class might work.

There are good and bad points though. One thing is with the top down, any LED displays are useless. The C70 must use LCD displays (black and white, low res like calculators and watches from the 90's and some of the new E-readers, in order to be visable with the top down. Take your laptop outside on a sunny day to see what I mean. As bright as it seems, it's no match for the sun. That makes your pretty widescreen LCD screen useless when the top is down. It's a tough display choice. I allways wondered why the radio in a C70 looks so last century until I tried to use my phone with the top down (hey, I wasn't driving.)

@jbunn@hotmail.com

"In considering the S, I keep thinking why do I need two trunks, when I can use part of one to store the retracting top, AND with the better space allocation, I'll still have a large rear trunk, AND a larger seating for adults in the rear."

I hope I'm wrong, but I wouldn't expect to find much useable space up front. It may be a good place to store a collection of charging cables and plug adapters, but nothing really bulky.

Check out the photo on the link below, there doesn't appear to be a lot of space.

Alpha Testing: Tesla Details Engineering Advances of Model S Development

Larry

As batteries become better/cheaper, aero-constrained designs
go away. I don't know how much worse the car would behave aerodynamically with the top down, but most convertibles are driven
most of the time with their top up, especially on trips, which
is the occasion when aero is most important. Around town and at non-highway speeds, a convertible is no problem whatsoever. It hardly makes any fiscal difference whether the mileage is 3 versus 4 miles per kilowatthour. With its top up, I have to assume that a convertible version would fare well if compared to the hardtop version. And it is possible to make a hardtop convertible.

My Roadster uses about 20wH/mile more with the roof off compared to with the roof on. (That is watt hours not KwH.) In other words... not much of a difference. (This is a small enough difference you need a lot of data to even see it.)

I've seen a slide from what looked like a presentation from Tesla investor relations that showed about 4 or 5 different vehicles which Tesla plans (maybe "proposes" is the right word) to build on the Model S platform. One of them was a model they referred to as the "Cabriolet" which showed a convertible model. The back-end was completely different. Instead of a hatchback, there was more of a classic "trunk" like you'd expect for a convertible.

In the IPO Tesla projected a crossover(the X), a 'Cabriolet' (convertable), and a van on the Model S structure. Will they actually do that? Who knows.

In the Q3 call (or was it the Forbes interview?), Elon projected that Tesla would introduce one new model a year for a while. So, Model S in 2012, Model X in 2013; then, speculating, Model C Cabriolet in 2014, Roadster 3.0 in 2015, Bluestar in 2016.

I really don't see the van as a strategic market, if the X is truly sitting in the space spanning SUVs and minivans

Robert.Boston, I have a similar timeline in mind. From what I pulled together from interviews, mine goes like this (as already mentioned in this thread):

2012 Model S, 2013 Model X, 2014 Roadster, 2015 3-series competitor, 2016 more Model S variations (minivan, convertible?), 2017 VW Golf/Jetta competitor??

Of course this is highly speculative and things are harder in practice than in theory, so I wouldn't be surprised if 2014 or 2015 goes by without a new model from Tesla. In any case, before 2020 the NUMMI plant should be running full blast, with more than 200k units/y.

I believe the van they have in mind is more of a delivery van.

I hope you're right Volker. As soon as my Model S is paid for, my piggy-bank fund for the Roadster 3.0 will start being filled!

Volker.B, I thought what I was posting sounded familiar...as usual, GMTA.

I'm thinking that further variants on the Model S, beyond the Model X, is the most cost-conservative development path. We know that the Roadster 3 will be built on the Bluestar platform, so my guess is that they'll start by selling the premium-priced Roadster in one year, then build out from there to develop the 3-series competitor (aka Bluestar).

I remain very unconvinced that Telsa will or should compete against the Golf. If there's any VW model to aim against, it's the CC (which is a very sweet car).

The rigidity and design of the Model S platform makes it ideal for a hardtop Cabriolet. There is plenty of space in which to retract the roof, especially if a two door model is introduced, and having the available Frunk would provide storage that all other hardtop convertibles don't have. There would still be plenty of room for a rear trunk.

Wait for the Roadster 3.0. That'll be a convertable I bet


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