TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Tesla Motors continues to be misunderstood and erroneously portrayed, the company's vice president of business development told an audience at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars on Tuesday.
Diarmuid O’Connell said that competitors and others continue to characterize the company as an elite car maker. But he reminded the industry audience that the burgeoning California electric automaker plans to introduce a more mass-market electric car, the Model 3, with a retail price of about $35,000, in two years.
Before then, the company also plans to offer the Model X as a crossover version of its Model S sedan. The company has said that it will unveil a prototype of the Model 3 next year, prior to its 2017 market launch.
“There are competitors out there who are trying to characterize us as what we are right now, at this snapshot in time, with the products we have. They also did that in 2008 when all we had was the even more expensive roadster.
“It is not the vision of this company to produce a mass-market $35,000 car by 2017 -- it is the plan,” O’Connell said.
“We have a business plan that we’ve been working on from the beginning, and it’s more than what we are today,” O’Connell said. “There is a massive disbelief hurdle at every stage of our development. We will never launch a roadster. We will never launch the Model S.
“And every time, we overcome the disbelief.”
Wall Street has certainly believed. Tesla shares on Tuesday closed at $266.28 a share. Five years ago, it was trading just under $20 a share.
Tesla, in its most recent sales report, said its vehicle deliveries grew 52 percent to 11,507 units during the second quarter.
O'Connell also said Tesla’s ambitious $5 billion project to construct a lithium-ion battery factory in Nevada, referred to as the gigafactory, is also part of Tesla’s plan to diversify into commercial battery markets, for both residential and industrial applications.
But he said Tesla is marching toward its larger plan -- one step at a time.
“The fact is, this is the business plan we were forced into because we were coming from zero with no capital, no reputation and no product,” O’Connell said. “Other manufacturers can put a compelling $35,000 vehicle on the road today. In the meantime, we put an aspirational product out in the market that hopefully will attract others.
“We have a plan and we’re going to get there,” he said. “The demographics of our buyer is going to change.”
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