Tesla has been heralded by the tech and motoring presses for its innovation, stirring up a fairly traditional market and introducing electric cars with a distinct buzz about them.
Tesla has taken more than its fair share of headlines over the past few years. But what does Tesla really offer, what’s coming in the future, and how can you you join in the fun?
Here’s everything you need to know about Tesla Motors, from the Roadster through to the new Model Y.
What is Tesla?
Tesla is an electric vehicle (EV) maker located in Palo Alto, California. Its goal is to produce electric cars that are can be either premium or affordable for everyday consumers. The company is run by CEO and founder Elon Musk.
Outside of EVs, Tesla is also exploring a wider ecosystem, offering a number of other solutions that leverage its experience in battery power, such as solar panels and power storage.
Which Tesla car is right for you?
Tesla is expanding its offering. With the Model S making a huge impact on the market as one of the first pure electric cars, it’s a company that’s being hugely disruptive. There are four models, with a number of different versions to choose from. All the ranges given are Tesla’s cited ranges from its US pages, but vary depending on driving style and environmental factors.
Tesla has also changed the positioning of its models recently and in some cases offers an upgrade to unlock power or issues firmware updates which changes the official figures on ranges, with changes to the line-up pretty regular.
Tesla Model S
- Starting price: $79,990 / £77,700
- Availability: US, UK, and Europe
The Model S originally launched in 2012 and helped to put Tesla on the map as an automaker. Tesla has continued updating the Model S since its release, and the most recent model has two different versions: the Long Range and Performance, the Standard recently being dropped. The Model S is very much an executive saloon, with similar long and low design lines as you might find on a Jaguar.
While some earlier editions of the Model S offered rear-wheel drive, all the latest Model S operate in all-wheel drive (AWD). Now available in two models, the Performance has Ludicrous mode for that insane acceleration. Both offer Autopilot as standard – which brings a range of driver assistance – but there’s the option for the full self-driving upgrade at $5,500 (£5,800), which adds navigation to Autopilot, self-parking, Smart Summon, traffic light recognition and automatic city street driving (you’ll still need to be in control of the car at all times).
- Long Range: AWD, 373 miles, 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds
- Performance: AWD, 348 miles, 0-60mph in 2.4 seconds
If you’re looking at pre-owned or older stock, you’ll find many Model S versions with different specs, including 60-100kWh batteries, single or dual motors, rear or all-wheel drive options, and various ranges and top speeds. Past versions include the Model S 60, Model S 60D, Model S 70, Model S 70D, Model S 75, Model S 75D, Model S 80, Model S 80D, Model S P85, Model S P85+, Model P85D, Model S 90D, Model S P90D, Model S 100D, and Model S P100D.
Tesla Model 3
- Starting price: $39,990/£38,500
- Availability: US, UK and Europe
The Model 3 launched in the US in 2016 as the affordable alternative to the Model S, with prices now dropping to make it the most affordable Tesla. It is also available in the UK and across Europe.
A four-door sedan, the Model 3 launched with a range of options, but that’s been refined to just three that are currently available. Ranges are based on combined figures. Autopilot is standard, but the full self-driving upgrade is $5,500/£5,800.
- Standard Range Plus: RWD, 250 miles, 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, partial premium interior
- Long Range: AWD, 322 miles, 75kWh, 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, premium interior
- Performance: AWD, 322 miles, 75kWh, 0-60mph in 3.2 seconds, premium interior
- Starting price: $84,990 / £82,700
- Availability: US, UK, and Europe
Tesla’s Model X is the soccer mom or dad’s answer to the electric car. It’s an SUV-style EV capable of seating seven people, but owes a lot of its design to the Model S, especially with that interior display.
It uniquely features rear Falcon Wing doors (think the Delorean in Back to the Future) that, along with the huge touchscreen inside, will make all your kids think you bought a car from the future. There are two models, but three different seating configurations, with additional costs based on your choices for seats. Autopilot is included, the full self-driving upgrade option is $7,000/£5,900.
- Long Range: AWD, 328 miles, 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds
- Ludicrous Performance: AWD, 305 miles, 0-62mph in 2.7 seconds
As with the Tesla Model S, there are a number of different versions of the Model X as Tesla has realigned the model naming, with a 75D becoming Long Range, and the 100D and P100D shifting into the Performance line.
- Starting price: $47,000/£36,000
- Availability: Mid 2020
The Tesla Model Y fills the space between the Model 3 and the Model X, as a compact SUV. It will seat seven, offer plenty of space, but really appeal to those looking for something more affordable.
The compact SUV segment is the biggest selling at the moment and isn’t hugely populated with electric models, so it’s a key target for Tesla. Tesla originally suggested four models would be available, but currently details two different specifications:
- Long Range AWD: AWD, 315 miles, 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds
- Performance: AWD: AWD, 315 miles, 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds
Those are likely to be the launch models, before a Standard Range is introduced, which might bring the price down to the $39,000 (£30,000) that was suggested when the car was first unveiled. It’s thought this will be introduced in 2021; the car is unlikely to reach the UK or Europe until around 2022, but this is still to be confirmed.
- Starting price: $39,900/£TBC
- Availability: Late 2021
The Cybertruck was unveiled in November 2019 as Tesla switches its attention to a pick-up truck format. This is likely to be a lot more popular in the US than other regions, although reservations are open in other regions too. The Cybertruck has a unique angular design, with a stainless steel body and armoured glass – it will also have 100 CU FT (2830 litres) of storage, and towing capacity of 7,500+ lbs. All these specs are for the US, with Tesla saying international specs will be developed depending on demand.
There are initially three versions of the Tesla Cybertruck being suggested:
- Single Motor RWD: 250+ miles, 0-60 in <6.5 seconds
- Dual Motor AWD: 300+ miles, 0-60 in <4.5 seconds
- Tri Motor AWD: 500+ miles, 0-60 in <2.9 seconds
The Dual and Tri Motor versions will arrive first, with production expected in late 2021, while the Single Motor is expected for 2022.
- Starting price: $200,000, reservations open
- Availability: 2020
The Tesla Roadster started the whole thing in 2008 and is returning in 2020. The aim is to be the fastest electric car on the road, with some impressive figures announced so far, with a 0-60mph speed of 1.9 seconds and a top speed over 250mph. It will seat four and has a removable glass roof.
There will be several versions, with a Founders Series and a Base model, and a $50k difference in price between the too.
The Tesla Semi is exactly what it sounds like: a Semi-trailer truck. A prototype debuted in late 2017 and is planned for production in 2020. Tesla initially claimed the truck would have a 500-mile range on a full charge and would be able to run for 400 miles after an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes using new “Tesla Megacharger” charging stations.
Musk said the Semi would come standard with Tesla Autopilot, allowing semi-autonomous driving on highways.