By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, May 30 (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc is working on a small crossover vehicle that will share its basic underpinnings with a new compact sedan that is expected to reach dealers “in the next three to four years,” Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Thursday.
The new models will be smaller and less expensive than Tesla’s $70,000 Model S sedan, which went on sale last summer, and the upcoming Model X crossover that’s due in 2014, he said.
Musk said the small sedan - known internally as Gen 3 because it will be built on the company’s third-generation platform - is aimed at the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. It will be priced from around $30,000.
Tesla’s compact crossover may share some design cues, including gull-wing doors, with the 2014 Model X, Musk suggested. It likely will be targeted at the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 crossovers.
The big difference between the premium European models, which have internal combustion engines, and Tesla’s future cars will be the propulsion system. Like the Model S, the smaller sedan and crossover will be powered exclusively by electric motors and lithium-ion batteries, and are designed to use the company’s fast-charge stations.
Tesla is accelerating plans to expand its Supercharger network across the United States and Canada, Musk said.
By the end of June, Tesla will have 25 charging stations in place, in cities such as: Chicago, Denver, Houston, Seattle and Portland. Currently, it operates eight Supercharger stations, including six in California, one in Connecticut and one in Delaware.
The network will grow to 100 stations next year and eventually will total 200 stations, with up to 3,000 charging ports, Musk said. A similar fast-charge network for Europe will be announced later this year.
Tesla has cut the time required to quick-charge the Model S, which now can be charged to two-thirds capacity in about 20 minutes, or enough to give it a range of 200 miles, Musk said.
The Supercharger station uses proprietary technology developed around the Model S and future Tesla vehicles. It would be “difficult to make this generic” so that it could be used on other electric cars from other manufacturers, he said.
But Musk said he is “open to the idea” of sharing Tesla’s charging technology with a major automaker.
“The other manufacturers can either copy us or join us,” he told reporters.