Timelines change, but when the timeline in question is the debut of the upcoming 'cheap' electric vehicle from Tesla Motors, potentially called the Model E, and that it's being moved up by a year or two, it catches our eye. Instead of the hopefully-2016-no-later-than-2017 debut we heard about earlier this year, Tesla higher-ups are now saying the less-expensive EV will get here in 2015. In January.
Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen spoke with AutoBild recently and dropped the bombshell that the company might actually unveil the Model E at the Detroit Auto Show in 2015 (see update below), which would mark the first time the California automaker has ever unveiled a vehicle at an auto show (all other debuts were at Tesla-organized events). Of course, a 2015 NAIAS debut could still mean a 2016 on-road date, but if the first public look at the Model E is just 13 months away, that's got to put a bit of fear into other automakers who are getting used to selling EVs for around $35,000, which is the rumored price. Previously, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted that a 1Q 2015 reveal was possible.
Tesla might actually unveil the Model E at the Detroit Auto Show in 2015.
Despite the earlier timeline and a few notable fires in the Model S recently, Von Holzhausen said he's not feeling pressured to rush the car out the door. "The fires don't affect my work," he told AutoBild (in our translation). "We're more interested in making a safe car. That's not changing." Oh, and he also confirmed that Tesla is working on a pickup truck, and said it will be built on its own platform and that it would "make sense" for Tesla to make a small city car someday. As for Tesla's next vehicle, the Model X, it is "nearly finished" and the team is working on the last aerodynamic tweaks.
Von Holzhausen also took a swipe at the look of the BMW i3, saying it looks more like it came from IKEA than a design house. He's not totally dismissive, though, saying he likes the look, even if it "doesn't have to be so funky."
UPDATE: Tesla Communications' Patrick Jones emailed AutoblogGreen to say that Von Holzhausen's interview wasn't quite accurate. He said, "I just want to clarify the timeline has not changed and to say that the vehicle will definitively arrive in 2015 is not accurate. ... We have not confirmed an unveiling at Detroit Auto Show 2015 and the timeline for a consumer roll out has not changed."