Tesla wanted to call the Model 3 the Model E, but Ford, which trademarked the name in 2013 before Tesla did, blocked that, and new reports suggest why this was.
Ford is reportedly working on a hybrid model under that name that is meant to be a Toyota-Prius fighter, and it’s possible this car could spawn plug-in hybrid and EV variants.
SEE ALSO: Will We See a Tesla Model E By 2018?
According to Automotive News, research firm AutoForecast Solutions says the car as yet unconfirmed by Ford could be built in San Luis Potosi, Mexico at a plant that’s being reworked to the tune of $1.6 billion, and which is also expected to build the next Focus.
Construction begins this summer, with production of new vehicles expected to begin in two years. Ford expects the plant to create 2,800 jobs by 2020.
The Mexican plant is slated to produce between 300,000 and 350,000 units eventually, and the Model E could make up 50,000 units of that.
Ford has yet to build a truly effective Prius fighter. Ford does offer the C-Max people mover in hybrid and plug-in hybrid flavor, and these are positioned against Toyota, but represent alternatives that have not been successful in the past few years of coming close to its sales volume.
A counter example of a much-closer to Prius-spec contender is the Hyundai Ioniq which matches or beats the Prius on several meaningful powertrain efficiency categories. The Fords are larger, and more powerful, but less efficient on gas, and in any case, it may be Ford sees the need for something more.
If Ford builds the Model E, it would mark the first Ford platform dedicated solely to an electrified powertrain.
While the Model E may be a rumor for now, if it does come to fruition and offer the three different powertrains, it would follow in the footsteps of the Hyundai Ioniq, which will be the first vehicle to offer all three powertrains on a car with the same bodystyle. Like the Prius, the Ioniq will be a hatchback, so the Model E likely would be, too.
If it comes to be, that is. Stay tuned.