Over the past decade, we’ve seen state-of-the-art electric cars, trucks, SUVs, and even a semi truck hit Tesla’s design department and queue up for production. Some of the consumer models, like the Model Y or Model X, already boast a ton of cargo space and plenty of room for families.
But what if you need a larger vehicle, either to transport a family with 8 or more members or to accommodate special mobility needs? How about an electric project van to allow your construction business to “go green?”
In Tesla’s Secret Plan, Part Deux, Elon Musk said that “high density urban transport” was needed to help round out the future of electric cars. Whether he was thinking about the robotaxi that day or possibly a higher capacity vehicle based off of the chassis of the Cybertruck, we do know Elon has been throwing around ideas for a Tesla Van for years.
In today’s article, we’ll walk you through the rumors, facts, possible specs, and potential production times of the long-awaited Tesla Van.
So Does Tesla Make a Van?
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but Tesla does not currently manufacture an electric van, nor have they released solid info on whether a design is currently in the works. While taking over for ICE high-capacity transportation is certainly an end goal for the company, the new Tesla Van project (if it exists) is currently taking a backseat to the production of the Cybertruck and Semi.
However, Elon has discussed Tesla sprinter vans, robovans, and high-capacity vehicles publicly on Twitter:
Maybe Tesla should make a highly configurable Robovan for people & cargo?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2022
Additionally, in response to a question during Tesla’s Q1 earnings call of 2021, Elon stated that “I think Tesla is definitely going to make an electric van at some point.” The Tesla Van is certainly somewhere in Elon’s mental wheelhouse; it may simply be a matter of time.
What is the Tesla Van Called?
Some of the more commonly suggested model names for Tesla’s van project include Tesla Van (obviously), Tesla Minibus, Tesla Model V, Tesla Model B, Tesla Cybervan, and Tesla Minivan.
That last name, Tesla Mini van, is highly unlikely for two reasons. First, a minivan is technically defined as a vehicle with a maximum of 8 seats; the van design is likely to have more than 8. Second, even if it does only have 8 seats, we highly doubt that Tesla’s marketing department will accept the name “Tesla Minivan” because…well, have minivans ever been trendy?
We’re going to stick with the name Tesla Van for the rest of the article to keep things simple. However, we do like the term Tesla Minibus; it has some old-school, feel-good VW Bus vibes.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about some possible design specs for the Tesla Van:
Tesla Van’s Range, Cargo Capacity, and Battery
First, what kind of a range can we expect out of an electric, high-capacity people mover like the Tesla Van? With competitors putting out vehicles with estimated ranges around the 125-200 mile mark, Tesla may shoot for the higher range of about 200-250 miles or more.
However, a longer range means a bigger battery, and that is where current shortages may put a limiting factor on Tesla innovation and competition with the Tesla Van.
If some of the original estimates for the Cybertruck’s battery size are correct (and if the Tesla Van is built on the Cybertruck chassis and not the Model X chassis), the Tesla Van may have up to a 200 kWh battery pack (possibly down to 100 kWh for a base model). That’s a lot of extra battery production in an industry already scrambling to secure battery materials.
Speaking of battery materials, Tesla currently targets the use of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries as the most cost-effective, energy-efficient design for its vehicles. However, a Tesla Van might need to rely on battery technology that uses some amount of cobalt.
Why might Tesla go back to a battery design that includes cobalt? Well, if the Van is being designed as a load carrier (a Tesla cargo van) instead of a people mover (a Tesla minibus), then a lighter battery with a higher energy density is preferable.
In fact, competitor GM makes its Ultium battery packs from a Nickel Cobalt Manganese Aluminum (NCMA) design in order to create vehicles with similar capacity needs as the potential Tesla Van.
Regardless of the component materials, the limited battery supply remains the biggest roadblock to the Tesla Van ever moving from design to reality. Incidentally, the battery problem is also why there’s been such a big stall in the production and delivery of Cybertruck and Semi.
What About a Tesla Camper or Lifestyle Van?
We’ve seen a lot of questions about whether Tesla will build a van for those who want to live out the dream of a fully electric lifestyle on the move. While a Tesla Van with solar panels and living space accessories and additions sounds fabulous, the reality is that some kind of nomad lifestyle EV line is lower on the priority list than every other project Tesla has in motion or might announce that we can think of.
Even a Tesla Motorcycle would be more important to the agenda of electrifying the transportation sector than a camper-style Tesla would be (and Elon says he won’t make a motorcycle).
However, the possibility of a Tesla work van or high-capacity passenger van is strong, and there would certainly be a place for people to modify the van themselves. The question is whether or not the price of a Tesla Van would deter people from remodeling one as a tiny home.
Speaking of prices, let’s talk about how much a potential Tesla Van cost might be:
How Much Is a Tesla Van?
The price of a Tesla Van would likely be in the $55,000 to $80,000 range (a conservative estimate). If the Van is more of a work van design, as it is likely to be if Tesla decides to start using an in-house design for their Mobile Service fleet, it would need to face current competition.
For example, Ford’s 2023 E-Transit Cargo Van currently has a starting MSRP of $53,790, while the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter goes for about $45,000-$50,000. For a Tesla repair van or Tesla work van to make financial sense, Tesla will need to produce the van at a production cost lower than the MSRP of competitors. This would allow them to both save by using their own vans and to make a profit from selling those vans at a decent margin.
What’s Inside the Tesla Van?
Barring innovations from Tesla (which, let’s be real, could happen), we expect the interior of the Tesla Van to be similar to other electric vans currently in production. The Tesla Van could have a seating capacity of up to 15 people, or a cargo capacity of around 400 ft³. Max payload could be about 5,000 lbs or higher, but that greatly depends on which battery Tesla ultimately chooses for this model.
When Will Tesla Van be Produced?
Currently, with Tesla Cybertruck and Semi still taking up Tesla’s time and attention, assembly and production of a Tesla Van likely would not begin until after 2025. However, as 2025 is the target year for both Chevrolet and GMC to release their versions of an electric van, we wouldn’t be particularly surprised to see Tesla announce one sooner.
That is, of course, assuming any of these manufacturers manage to get enough battery material to begin producing an electric van at scale.
Does Tesla have an SUV or Minivan? Is there a 7-seater Tesla?
If what you are hoping for from a Tesla is just slightly higher passenger capacity than traditional Sedans, you’re already in luck. Tesla makes two SUVs that can seat more than 5 people. The Model Y comes in a 7-seater configuration, and the Model X can be configured for either 6 or 7 seats.
Even the Model S has had its 7-seater moments (and will have them again, if reports are true), though the two extra jump seats in the old Model S were more like child-sized backward facing jump seats than regular passenger seating.
The extra seating does come at a cost, though: the 7-seater Model X costs an additional $3,500 on top of the MSRP, while the 6-seater costs a whopping $6,500 more. The 7-seater configuration for the Model Y costs an additional $4,000, though you may be eligible for the Federal Tax EV Credit to help offset costs.
But the most affordable way to get your hands on a higher capacity Tesla today is to buy them used. Unfortunately, most sites make finding the 6- or 7-seater Teslas hard to find. Having to click through each possible listing to check the number of seats is a pain.
We like to make it easy for you. Check out our current used Tesla listings and filter by “Number of Seats” to see what’s available right now. It’s that simple.
For those of us still waiting on announcements for the Tesla Van (or the $25,000 Tesla, or any new projects, really), we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open for the unveiling of the Tesla Master Plan, Part 3 that Elon has promised for Investor’s Day on March 1, 2023.