Tesla Will Go Hybrid

Tesla Motors may be the darling of the “take no prisoners” electric vehicle world, but the company is reportedly planning to utilize a more mainstream gas-electric hybrid powertrain in its upcoming Whitestar sedan. According to various reports, there will be two versions of the car: One will run on batteries alone, while the other will be a plug-in hybrid—which in some configurations is called a range-extended electric vehicle (REEV)—incorporating a small gas motor to recharge the battery pack during driving.

Because electric drive by itself grants a relatively limited cruising range on a single charge, the gasoline engine will extend the amount of miles the car can be driven. “It is more than research. We intend to have it as part of the offering,” said Tesla CEO Ze’ev Drori. “The Whitestar can be all-electric or it can be an REEV.”

The gas-electric powertrain will increase the appeal of the car to those who want a green automobile, but have concerns about range. The Whitestar REEV is expected to travel up to 400 miles before needing to recharge, as opposed to the all-electric version’s 150 miles. Historically, driving range has been one of the main points of criticism of electric cars.

Driving distance is determined by the size and performance of the battery pack. As a result, cost is a major factor. The all-electric Tesla Roadster carries a hefty price tag of $98,000. By contrast, the Whitestar is expected to have a sticker in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. The gas-electric version will be a little less expensive than the all-electric model. Tesla has not released a target date for release of the Whitestar.


  • Skeptic

    Vaporware. Just like the Chevy Volt. Create the buzz, suck in the investors, keep the cycle going.

  • UR_lame

    Wow – you keep yourself busy posting the same cr@p comments everywhere – vaporware this, vaporware that. Try and be optimistic about life once in a while.

  • Ed & Harriet Griffith

    It is difficult to see how a 4 door sedan will sell for 50-70K while a prius or honda hybrid will sell for 22K and we may have an even less expensive kia hybrid next year. It just does not seem to be that much better to justify the price.

  • Armand

    UR_LAME….

    It is vaporware…skeptic is right. Who in their right mind would pay $50-70K for a car that is supposed to help the green movement for cars? Who does it help anyway?

    Tesla is stupid company with a good idea…you need to a good company with a good idea to make things work. Throwing Google money at it won’t help either.

  • I like EVs

    Actually, I’m betting the strategy is to offer these super expensive cars at a loss to establish the brand name. Once Tesla’s in the popular eye, the plan is to have the costs of batteries down into the sane range. People will buy a $50k EV, if it can go 200 miles or so. The Whitestar and roadster aren’t about making profit. That’s why you won’t see them make more than a couple thousand of them.

  • indigo

    I like the idea of a pure EV car tha can achieve highway speeds. However, until a carmaker can produce a practical EV for $30k or less, the vehicles will nevr be more than a niche or curiosity.

  • dj

    sweet car

  • scott

    sweet car is right. that is what it is about. I suspect there is a larger market than we think. there are a lot of cars sold in the 50 to 60k range to middle aged guys like me. when the kids are gone and your in your peak earning years, its your toy. These toys are out there now, this one is a lot greener. I’d love one, but only with the range to get me where i want to go and back..200 miles won’t do it. 400 is great

    the 20k to 30k market is the mass market, but i think going higher end first is the right thing to do. lets get the technology on the road and use the real world to make it better.

  • josh f

    I’m a Sr. Mechanical Designer at Tesla. I’m curious about your comment re: range. How often do you really need to go 400 miles in a day??? The longer the required range, the larger and heavier the battery has to be, adversely affecting car performance. The roadster has a range of ~250 miles, and does 0-60 in <4 secs. That doesn't do it for you?

  • believer

    vaporware? the first production roadster has been delivered. you don’t know what you’re talking about. But enjoy your job at the gas station.

  • your new reality

    To Josh F and Scott:

    I think you’re both right, sort of. Josh, 0-60 in 4 seconds and a 250 mile range on all electric is astounding. However…I’d hate like hell to have to leave my cool car at home when I go to visit my buddies in DC or Boston (I live in NJ), and with the Tesla, that’s a given. Scott has a point – there’s got to be some wiggle-room with respect to the maximum range of the vehicle to make it truly a keeper, and not just an interesting toy.

    My vote goes with some sort of PHEV – since my daily needs are easily met by a car that can go all-electric for 40 or 50 miles, and I can still use the car for a road trip by putting some gasoline in it, a car like the Fisker Karma is the real deal IMO. Don’t get me wrong – Tesla’s styling and performance are unparallelled, but in the real world it’s just not flexible enough – if I’m going to shell out $100k for a car, it damn well better be a vehicle I can drive 365 days a year.

  • Armand

    BELIEVER….

    They’ve delivered ONE…ONE car…how’s that not vaporware????

    LOL..until you own one…and it’s in your driveway, and you’re getting 250 miles per “tank” in range, you’ll keep enjoying that “gas station” too…so don’t get ahead of yourself too much.

    I’d love to own an electric car OR hybrid for the next gen…but I see nothing but concepts and one-offs…

    Nissan makes over a million cars per year…as does Toyota, Honda, GM, etc etc etc….

    And we have ONE Tesla…yeah…not vaporware.

  • Andy

    Those here predicting that no one will buy a Tesla Roadster for $70k might want to weigh the fact that the first 100 Roadsters were already sold as “Signature 100 Series” cars for a premium price of $100,000 by August 2006. By July 2007, the regular model reached 500 orders… again, without the production line having even started yet! These numbers are nothing for a goliath like GM or Toyota, but $100,000 isn’t a mass market car. People are laying down real money and they want it yesterday.

    Comparing the Roadster to a Prius shows that you clearly aren’t yourself in this market segment. Why buy a car when a scooter can get you just as far for less? Simple – the Prius doesn’t do what the Roadster does. This car isn’t supposed to replace all cars on the planet. Just the really fast, noisy, inefficient ones. It’s just like the people who hate the Prius because they can’t tow their horse trailer with it or drive off road. What were they thinking and why does this even need to be explained to them?

    Vive la Tesla! I am looking forward to seeing (more of) them on the road!

  • ADVILL

    Is anybody aware of a venture in california with a microturbine to electric motor design?, seems it has an italian name and is running in the concept Pentagon is deciding for future ships but in a civilian scale.

  • bass player

    people tend to forget that any new technology will be expensive. As demand increases, costs will go down.

  • vinayababu

    Counting the chicken before it is out of the shell. Welcome all attempts to bring a real EV. The grey areas still lies with the life of battery pack of Tesla . A hybrid Tesla sounds more logical if they want to sell more cars and make profit in Tesla.

  • jakiefnh

    There really has been no technological impediments to a plug-in electric car for many years. It is disappointing that no true market initiatives are forthcoming. We in the USA are paying a terrible price for lack of forsight. The surge in gas costs, and resulting recession (yes they are very much linked) would not be happening if the US market had this option. Both our economy and the environment would benefit.

    Jim K

  • Hal Howell

    OR you could just go buy a Prius which has an expected range of over 600 miles and costs about half the Whitestar”s expected price tag of $50,000 and less than half of the $60,000 price tag. I like the Tesla and think its a beautiful car and concept but it is still just a rich man’s toy. A nice toy to be sure but still just a toy.

  • jt

    the reev idea is the hybirds best shot, it is used today. and is the most cost effective form of moving large loads!
    wish i had the money to patent.

  • Dunk Dun

    I am currently working for the com. producing the electric componets for the moter and I would like to say that it is a awesom concept.I think it will go very far toward getting things green. (It is very dependable!!)

  • srekov

    new battery technology is the holy grail of the ev’s future. Please, someone, post the science [ breaking news] that may give hope to long range light-weight batteries.