4 New Tesla Vehicles Coming in the Company’s Next Phase

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Model X launch event in Fremont, California on September 29, 2015.
While introducing the next phase of his master plan, Elon Musk mentioned four new Tesla vehicles on the way. | SUSANA BATES/AFP/Getty Images

While the current state of Tesla is enough to occupy journalists’ attention for the better part of the day, the future is even more intriguing. In a post published on the automaker’s website, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the enormous scale of his ambitions for the coming years. We won’t stop at dominating the luxury and mid-tier market in electric vehicles, Musk said in so many words. The vision extends far beyond the consumer market.

As a mass-market vehicle makes its way to market in 2017, Tesla will be busy trying to conquer autonomous driving, mile by mile. This part of the company’s master plan aims to take advantage of millennials’ wide participation in the sharing economy. When a vehicle is not in use by its owner, someone could “have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation,” Musk wrote in the blog post.

Tesla Model 3
Tesla car-sharing will be part of the next phase. | Tesla

But autonomous driving will be the primary focus of vehicles he has for “high passenger-density urban transport.” Musk envisioned a near-future in which public transportation riders could summon a bus or tram via app or button on the street corner and be picked up by a self-driving vehicle operated by a municipal transit outfit.

He also mentioned Tesla has an answer to the millions of work trucks out there hauling goods between construction sites and helping contractors make the rounds on a daily basis. In other words, the electric car maker plans to have a hand in every type of ground transportation system there is. Here are four new Tesla vehicles we can expect in the coming years.

1. Model Y compact SUV

A Tesla compact SUV is on the way.
A Model Y compact SUV would be based on Model 3 chassis. | Tesla

During the quarterly conference call for investors. Musk said the company’s four vehicles would follow the “S-E-X-Y” format. First would come the Model S and Model X, with the Model 3 (serving as “E”) and Y filling in the blanks. After that, the company would abandon the naming system and come up with something else. On Twitter, Musk elaborated on plans for the compact SUV dubbed Model Y by saying it would be built off a Model 3 chassis.

Therefore, customers can expect this vehicle to be smaller than Model X and slot in next on the automaker’s agenda. Bearing in mind the wild success of compact SUVs by premium brands, Musk has said demand for Model Y could come close to one million vehicles.

2. Tesla pickup truck

A Tesla pickup would enter a tiny market that includes the EV Fleet Condor. | EV Fleet

To tackle imposing emissions levels, there has to be a greener alternative to the millions of pickup trucks running on gasoline and diesel across the country on a daily basis. Fleet operators would be very interested in an electric model that did not skimp on power yet provided the type of fuel economy that would make operating costs drop. Elon Musk said Tesla would tackle that challenge with “a new type of pickup truck.”

Considering the three Detroit pickups top the sales list every year, you might say this solution would make the biggest dent in emissions levels. Judging by the available information, this model would follow the other new Tesla vehicles on this list. The EV Fleet Condor is the only pure electric pickup we’ve seen to date.

3. Tesla Semi truck

The Nikola One Semi
Tesla will introduce a rival to this Nikola One by 2017, Musk said. | Nikola

Nikola, maker of an electric-drive Semi truck that uses natural gas turbines, took a few pages out of Tesla’s book earlier in 2016. While the first came was in the company name, the second was the tactic of generating millions of dollar in pre-orders for a Class 8 vehicle still several years down the road. Nikola One lays claim to more power, range, and acceleration than commercial diesel trucks while slashing emissions and operating costs for fleet owners.

For his part, Musk says there is a Tesla Semi already in development that will make an appearance in 2017. He’s not looking so far down the road into a distant future, either. Musk intimated it would be in production within five years, and we assume natural gas would not be an element of Tesla’s playbook.

4. Electric minibus

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Some of the last of the Brazilian-built Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi vans that have been converted into campervans are seen at Danbury Motorcaravans workshops on January 23, 2014 in Bristol, England. Since 1997, the Bristol motorhome specialist has been importing and converting into luxury campervans the iconic VW Type 2 Kombi, which was first sold in 1950, and have, until last December, continued to be built in Brazil. Although costing after conversion at least 35000 GBP, most of the final 99 new vehicles that have been imported into Bristol have already been bought. The vehicles will be the last brand new VW Type 2 camper vans available in all of Europe and will mark the end of an era for the much loved van. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Vintage Volkswagen vans inspired Tesla’s take on urban mass transit. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

When Musk mentioned tackling urban mass transit, we thought Tesla might be considering an electric public bus a la Proterra, but he clarified those comments later. Instead of a huge bus, Musk said the concept would be based on classic VW buses but optimize available space and operate without drivers. These buses operate as mass transit haulers in the urban areas of many developing countries.

As is his wont, Musk took to Twitter to note the bus would be based on the Model X platform, so some of the work is already complete. Like Tesla Semi, the bus concept will make its first appearance in 2017 and would have a production date sometime within the next five years, if everything goes according to plan.

Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY