Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Could electric cars become a familiar sight in the UK? Tesla plans huge expansion

Luxury electric car maker Tesla expects to deliver 100,000 cars in 2015, after heavily investing in production and expanding its assembly plant in California.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 21 Aug 2015

CEO Elon Musk said Tesla had teamed up with Japanese electronics firm Panasonic to build a $5bn new 'gigafactory' in Nevada, US, which will make cheaper and more efficient battery packs for its future electric cars.

Reporting its second quarter results, Tesla said losses had increased to $62m, from $31m a year ago, as the company ramped up its overseas presence. It delivered a record 7,579 cars to customers in the three months to the end of June after a big sales push in China, while also being 'unable to keep pace with increased demand' in North America and Europe.

Tesla has previously said that the UK could become biggest market in Europe for electric cars.

Speaking at the UK launch of the Tesla Model S in June, Musk told MT that UK consumers are more willing to try something new. 'The UK consumer is inclined to make a decision just on the car itself – not on a nationalistic basis. The Germans and French tend to be like that.'

However, Musk added that electric cars have been slow in general to catch on, mainly because other major car firms 'just don't take electric cars seriously' and are unwilling to take the risk of trying something new.

'The world really needs to move to sustainable transport. There's currently such a small number of electric cars made it's ridiculous,' he said. 'It's substantially less than 1% of new cars made. Ninety million new vehicles are made a year and only a few hundred thousand of those are electric. At Tesla we're only going to do 35,000 cars this year.'

Tesla announced last month that it had scrapped its technology patents to 'accelerate the advent of sustainable transport' and help become electric cars more mainstream.

The Model S is currently the only Tesla model on sale in the UK. Costing £50,000, it can run 300 miles on a single charge and is the first electric car that has got the big 3 premium manufacturers - BMW, Mercedes and Audi - worried. However, it has been reported that a more affordable Tesla Model III will go on sale for around £30,000 in 2017.

Tesla Model S

Musk also told MT that Tesla will 'probably' establish an R&D centre in the UK next year as a supplement to its main engineering centre in California, where half of its engineering team is European.

'It seems like a sensible thing to do given the talent in British engineering, some of which we can direct to California and some of which we can't,' Musk said. 'For every one person that we bring to California, there are probably five that we can't because of family reasons or other circumstances.'

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