Electric-car manufacturer Tesla might be dreaming up an alternative world in which we all drive electric cars, but its next model will be very much based on the world we’re currently living in.

Tesla’s next car model, called the Tesla Model III, is directly aimed at taking on the new electric BMW 3 Series, the company confirmed today to trade publication AutoExpress. This new car will be smaller, likely by 20 percent, than its sedan model, the Model S.

Tesla will unveil the Model III in 2016, and the car will go on sale by 2017. The new car will also most likely be reengineered by Tesla’s British engineering head Chris Porritt, formerly of Aston Martin. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk confirmed that he expects the new car to have a range of 200 miles, just like the Model S.

Moreover, the car is expected to have a price tag of about $35,000, a price made possible by cheaper battery technology Tesla will manufacture at its upcoming Gigafactory. The factory will likely be located in Nevada, Arizona, California, New Mexico, or Texas, and will produce batteries for outside customers as well (rumored are Mercedes and Nissan).

Also important from today’s announcement:

Musk plans on setting up a research and development unit in the U.K.

He also plans on upgrading Tesla’s original model, the roadster, with a new battery that should give it a 400 mile range (from Los Angeles to San Francisco without stopping), as compared to its current 245-mile range.

And if this announcement isn’t exciting enough, Musk’s explanation for the new car’s change of name (it was first rumored to be called the Model E) is sure to make you glad you read about it. Here it is, reprinted:

“We had the model S for sedan and X for crossover SUV, then a friend asked what we were going to call the third car,” Musk told us. “So I said we had the model S and X, we might as well have the E.

“We were going to call it model E for a while and then Ford sued us saying it wanted to use the Model E – I thought this is crazy, Ford’s trying to kill sex! So we’ll have to think of another name.

“The new model is going to be called Model III, we’ll have three bars to represent it and it’ll be S III X!”


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