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Tesla charges up for 2016

Charging ahead: In 2016 Tesla will introduce its Model X SUV, reveal its entry level Model 3, build a new Supercharger in Port Macquarie and open a flagship store in Sydney.

Electric vehicle-maker Tesla reveals plans for expansion in 2016 and beyond

12 Feb 2016

TESLA Australia is looking to capitalise on its local growth by opening a new flagship store in Sydney’s central business district (CBD), as well as building a new Supercharger Station in Port Macquarie, pushing its quick-charge network further north towards Brisbane.

The American electric vehicle-maker’s Australian marketing and communications manager Heath Walker said expanding the local Tesla footprint will help Tesla achieve its goal of connecting Australia with EV charging.

“So we’ve now completed the supercharger network from Sydney to Melbourne, allowing for free long-distance travel to all our owners between those two cities,” he said.

“We’ve already started construction on Port Macquarie, which will start the journey from Sydney up to Brisbane and from a store point of view, we’ve got two stores in Melbourne now, one up in Sydney, in addition to being able to buy anywhere in Australia online.

“What we will have in the not too distant future is another store in Sydney, which will be our flagship store in the centre of Sydney.

“Our long-term aim is to have the whole of Australia covered in superchargers, and that’s the long-term aim and allowing for everyone to be able to travel at no cost in electric vehicles.” The Port Macquarie site will be free to use for Tesla owners and is able to charge six Model S vehicles at one time, which can add up to 270km of range in half an hour.

Tesla’s recently released fourth quarter 2015 earnings also reveal plans to grow global sales by 60-80 per cent in 2016 for a full year of profitability on the back of strong worldwide Model S deliveries, a 76 per cent increase in Q4, 2015, compared with the same time last year.

This year, Tesla will introduce its all-electric Model X SUV in Australia, which is being delivered to customers in the United States.

It is also set to unveil its third vehicle, the entry level Model 3, in late March.

While little is known about the Model 3, Tesla has committed to a lower price point and smaller size, possibly putting it in direct competition with luxury sedan stalwarts the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Tesla co-founder, product architect and chief executive officer Elon Musk confirmed via Twitter that pre-orders will begin after the car is revealed on March 31 with a $US1000 deposit.

Mr Walker said next month’s unveiling will not reveal any technical specification or battery options available to the Model 3, but that the new vehicle will be an important model for the tech giant.

“Model 3 will be showcased in March, but only the exterior to begin with,” he said. “It (Model 3) showcases our mass-volume vehicle and will really bring electric vehicle technology to the masses.” Plans are also in place to build a fully autonomous vehicle in the next two years, building on its self-driving Autopilot system introduced in October 2015.

Mr Walker said a self-governing vehicle will likely be a whole new model, as the requirements for full autonomy would be too much for Tesla’s current crop of cars.

“It’s just advancing the hardware,” he said. “I don’t think that the cars as they stand today would advance to fully autonomous based on software alone, so there is additional hardware that is required on the cars.

“Autopilot certainly can provide us with a lot of data through the dynamic mapping that the car has, send it up to the air and then teach the rest of the fleet vehicles around what that car has been doing.” However, changes to the Model S are still on the way, with Tesla planning to release more over-the-air updates to improve the functionality of the all-electric sedan.

Mr Walker said that a feature that allows the Model S to automatically come to owners from a parking spot – already available in other markets – is in the process of being approved for Australia.

“In some markets we’ve already got the Summon feature which enables our cars to be remotely removed, via the app, from a car park,” he said.

“So you can stand outside the car and the car will come to you, and we’re waiting for regulatory approval in this market, we’re hoping that will occur soon.”

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