We're rapidly approaching the unveiling of Tesla's next big thing, the Model 3, scheduled for March 2016, and speculation about the company's future plans is shifting into a higher gear. The most interesting rumor that I've seen comes from Seth Weintraub: Apparently Tesla is planning a surprise and will unveil not one, but two new electric vehicles. This is based on unnamed sources, and reading a bit into the tea leaves based on the fact that Musk chose to show the outline of two vehicles on a recent slide showing the progression from the Roadster to the Model S and Model S to the Model 3... and something else?
Musk is known for having trouble not pre-announcing products and features, and last October he tweeted about a Model Y vehicle that might have falcon-wing doors like the Model X. He later deleted the tweets, but nothing is ever completely gone on the internet, so we have screenshots:
This would make sense. If the Model 3 is going to be a smaller and less expensive Model S, the Model Y (or whatever it ends up being called -- Model 5 maybe? That would be more consistent with "letters for the expensive ones and numbers for the more affordable ones") could be a smaller version of the Model X (picture below), a small electric crossover. This would broaden the appeal of electric vehicles by covering more popular segments all at once.
One way that Tesla could keep the Model 3 (and Y) less expensive than the Model S and X would be to charge for access to the Supercharger network. To keep things as convenient as possible, your credit card information would probably be entered once in the car and then you'd be charged each time you use a Supercharger. The price would probably be fairly low, though higher than if you charged at home, to help pay for the infrastructure and make sure that only those who really need a fast charge use the system (to avoid congestion, once many more Teslas are on the road). This is just a guess on my part, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla took the satellite radio approach and offered the first 6 months of Supercharging for free, and only after that charged money for it.
For more speculation on the Model 3, check out Weintraub's post over at Electrek.
Another interesting tidbit about future Tesla products comes form an interview that Musk did in Hong Kong. When asked about making an electric truck, he said that he thought it was the "logical thing [for Tesla] to do in the future." This confirms some of what Musk said all the way back in 2013 about wanting to make an electric pickup truck to compete in the Ford F-150 segment. At the time, Musk said that he had ideas to make a better pickup than what is on the market.
At the time, Musk said "he might make the truck in 5 years," which would put the launch around 2018. Is that the next step after the Model 3 (and maybe Y)?
Here's the interview with Musk: