Tesla is currently capable of rolling out an electric car that can travel 400 miles per charge, but doing so wouldn’t make economic sense, at least not yet, company CEO Elon Musk said at the Vox Media Code Conference on Wednesday.
“We could make a 400-mile range car today, like, that wouldn’t be too big of a deal. It’s decreasing the cost per unit of energy of the battery packs so you can make the car affordable. That’s actually the important thing,” Musk said at Vox Media’s Code Conference on Wednesday evening.
Currently, Tesla vehicles have a range of about 250 miles or more, which is more than enough for most day to day use, Musk said.
“The Model S range is around 300 miles and that is quite a lot and it’s pretty rare that people need to go 300 miles at a time without stopping. So I don’t think we really have a range issue,” he said.
But the Model S prices at about $100,000, which is far too expensive for most consumers.
Tesla is going to great lengths to cut the cost of its battery technology so that it can make more affordable cars. Specifically, the company has invested billions of dollars in building out its Gigafactory, which is its giant battery manufacturing plant located in Sparks, Nevada.
The giant factory is aimed at helping the company achieve economy of scale at an extreme level and will be key for the production of the Model 3, which is Tesla’s first mass market car. It will have a range of about 215 miles per charge and will begin pricing before tax incentives at about $35,000.
“There are really two main dimensions along which cost optimization and making something available for the mass market can be achieved. One is design iteration, going through multiple versions of something, and the other is economies of scale. And you kind of need both of those things to make a compelling mass market product,” Musk said.
Musk has previously said that the Tesla aims to reduce the cost per unit of energy by more than 30% once the Gigafactory is fully up and running.
Last November, Musk also said Tesla was capable of using its current batteries to build a car with a 500-mile range, but again he cited cost and spatial sacrifices as a limiting factor.
“The cost would be too high and the useful load impact on the vehicle would be too high. We would have to fill up part of the front trunk and the rear trunk with batteries, we’d have to pinch a little bit on passenger room, but for us to do a 500 mile range car would be no problem,” he said.
However, he said at the time that in 10 years, Tesla would be able to create a car with a 500-mile range in the current form of the Model S.