The Tesla hatchback is going to start the new chapter for the automaker. Rather than offering ultra-premium cars that cost more than a year's salary, Tesla is getting into the growing low-cost EV market with a car that's set to cost just $25,000.
While there's still a lot we don't know, both Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have revealed enough to give us an idea of what to expect - and when to expect it. Here's everything we know about the Tesla hatchback so far.
Tesla Hatchback: Release window and price
Elon Musk confirmed that the car will cost $25,000. It’s unclear whether that is the full purchase price, or if that includes the “potential savings” discount Tesla advertises, and supposedly includes potential federal subsidies and gas savings.
In other words, the car could realistically cost more. Especially since Tesla has been raising price very regularly over the past year due to various supply chain issues. The most recent price hike was, in part at least, due to the rising price of nickel - a key component in many EV batteries.
As for release, Tesla originally announced it was ready to release the hatchback at some point in 2023. However that was assuming the car didn't fall foul of delays, something Tesla is all to familiar with. In fact, considering the delays affecting both the Cybertruck and the Roadster, it doesn't look likely that the hatchback will arrive anytime soon.
CEO Elon Musk even confirmed that the automaker is "not currently working on a $25K" car. Apparently the automaker is more focussed on ramping up production of existing cars, like the production-challenged Model X, and the eventual launch of the Cybertruck.
Musk later confirmed that 2023 would be the year the Cybertruck, Roadster and Tesla Semi truck will launch. Or at least, that's the plan if more supply chain delays don't get in the way. There's been no word on the $25k hatchback, and it's likely we won't be seeing it next year.
Tesla Hatchback: Performance and range speculation
We know very little about the Tesla hatchback’s performance at this point, since Tesla hasn’t revealed anything about the motor. However, given the car’s price tag and presumed size, it’s likely that it only has a single electric motor, though whether it’ll be front or rear wheel drive is unclear.
Tesla has yet to produce a front wheel drive car, so it seems rear wheel drive is the more likely candidate.
As for the range, we have just as few confirmed details. That being said, Elon Musk previously said that the Standard Range Tesla Model Y was discontinued last July because it only had 244 miles of range. Evidently, Musk believes that anything less than 250 is “unacceptably low”.
So unless there has been a major philosophical change at Tesla in the past year, we can likely expect a minimum of 250 miles from the Tesla hatchback.
Tesla hatchback: Battery and charging
While we don’t know what sort of battery capacity to expect, Tesla has already revealed some big promises about the Hatchback's battery. Promises that suggest it will come powered by the new 4680 battery cells, the same cells set to be used in the Tesla Cybertruck and the 2022 Model Y.
The 4680 cells use a tabless design which promises to offer six times the power and five times the energy capacity of comparable batteries - all while reducing the cost. That would be why the automaker can hit that coveted $25K price tag, something no other EV in North America has quite managed.
Currently the cheapest model on sale is the $27,400 2022 Nissan Leaf.
The battery is also going to help support the hatchback’s underpinnings, which will help reduce the car’s overall weight. Combined with the smaller, lighter design, Tesla claims this will increase the hatchback’s range by a further 14%.
It’s not clear what sort of charging speeds to expect with this car, though it will no doubt be compatible with Tesla’s supercharger network. We would be very surprised if it didn't have the same 250kW maximum as other Teslas.
Tesla Hatchback: Design and features
We haven’t seen any design specs or illustrations of the Tesla hatchback, which seems to have been deliberate. That said, a hatchback is a very particular design, so we should expect some sort of Tesla-ified vehicle that looks like a blend between a Tesla Model Y and something like a Nissan Leaf or VW ID.3.
It’s also fair to assume that most of the traditional Tesla features will be available in the new hatchback, including the company’s infotainment system, access to the supercharger network and more.
What we definitely know is that the car will have some form of Autopilot involved, with Elon Musk promising the vehicle would be “fully autonomous." We seriously doubt that it will have Level 5 autonomy, wherein the car does all of the work and there’s no need for an attentive human in the driver's seat.
Our guess is that Tesla’s ‘Full Self Driving’ Autopilot will be available, enabling the car to navigate itself on highways and possibly even city streets. Provided there’s an attentive human behind the wheel, ready to take over at a moment’s notice.
Tesla Hatchback: What will it be called?
Tesla hasn’t announced what its new hatchback will be called, and some outlets have taken to calling it the ‘Model 2’ — presumably because it’s smaller and cheaper than Tesla’s current entry-level car the Model 3.
However Elon Musk has already refuted that particular point, killing any chance that the car would be called the Model 2. Not that it was particularly likely, should Tesla stick with the naming conventions of its previous cars. After, all Elon Musk deliberately named the Model S through Y because the letters spelled out the word ‘Sexy’.
Or Tesla would have done if Ford didn’t own the rights to the name ‘Model E’, which forced Tesla to substitute the number 3 instead.
But where can Elon Musk’s pretty childish Tesla naming trend go from here? Sexy is a complete word by itself, and it means the Hatchback’s letter would have to start spelling a brand new word.
That’s assuming Tesla even opts for one, and doesn’t follow the example of the Tesla Roadster and give the hatchback a more ordinary name. Though ‘Tesla Hatchback’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘Model H’.
Tesla Hatchback: Outlook
There are still a lot of unknowns with the Tesla Hatchback, though it seems that Tesla is going to offer that same ‘Tesla experience’ in a car that’s both cheaper and smaller than its current line-up. That's a good thing, and hopefully means the company’s many competitors will follow suit and launch high-range electric cars for a low price.
Of course, we will have to wait and see what happens, and whether this car actually arrives in 2023. It’s all well and good thinking about what could be, only for the car to be delayed like so many Tesla models before it. But we do have some high hopes, and we’re optimistic that Tesla can pull this one off without a hitch.