Tesla’s Elon Musk: Why our new model could be a Europe-designed hatchback

Emilee Geist

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says cramped parking spaces in Europe mean it would make sense for the first new Tesla model it designs in Berlin to be a compact electric vehicle like a hatchback. 

Tesla is midway through constructing building its massive Berlin Gigafactory, where it will mass-produce electric vehicles starting with the Model Y SUV. It’s already announced that it will “establish original vehicle design and engineering for worldwide markets out of Germany”.

As per Electrek, Musk in September confirmed that original Tesla models would be designed at its Giga Shanghai and Giga Berlin facilities. He said that a week after Tesla announced its plans to make a model that costs less than $25,000.  

So far, Tesla has designed all its models at its Hawthorne facility in California, so the designs from Shanghai and Berlin will be a significant departure for the electric vehicle maker.  

In a recent interview posted on YouTube, Musk said he wanted the Berlin factory’s first vehicle to justify Tesla’s message that it makes affordable cars. He also wants the first vehicle to be one that fits into Europe’s parking spaces, which are tighter compared with those in the US. 

But he also wants to attract engineers and designers in Europe with the promise that they’ll get to make something that’s not just a copy of a big Californian design like the Model Y. 

“There’s just a lot of talented designers and engineers in Europe,” said Musk. 

“I think for a lot of people they really want to work somewhere where they’re doing original design work. They don’t want to just be doing … a European version of something that was designed in California. 

“It’s important in order to attract the best talent to do original design, and you know in Europe it would make sense to do a compact car, so perhaps a hatchback or something like that.” 

He went on to explain the reasons behind different tastes for vehicle sizes between Europe and the US. 

“In the US the cars tend to be bigger for personal taste reasons and in Europe it tends to be smaller,” he said, noting the difficulties of parking in a dense urban environment. 

“I was driving my Model X around Berlin and we had quite a bit of trouble finding a parking space that we could fit. So I think [a compact car] would be a good candidate for an original design, but I’m sure there would be others as well but that might be a wise place to start,” he added. 

“It also helps us say we are a car that people can afford that fits their lifestyle … so probably something like that would make sense.” 

More on Elon Musk’s Tesla and self-driving cars

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  • Tesla’s Autopilot: Cheat sheet TechRepublic
  • Tesla to close retail stores, only sell cars online CNET
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