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Can’t afford a Model S? Tesla’s next electric sedan will be cheaper

Tesla is preparing its third-generation electric car, and this time (relative) affordability will be as important as performance and technology.

The car will have very little in common with the Model S and upcoming Model X crossover Chris Poritt, the company’s vice president of engineering, told Autocar. It’s all about keeping the cost down.

The car formerly known as Model E (Tesla dropped that trademark a few months back) will compete with the BMW 3 Series, and that means it has to be more than a shortened Model S. Or rather, less.

It will do without the Model S’ aluminum chassis, likely going with steel instead. Tesla will also try to keep costs down with its massive battery “Gigafactory”, which will build lithium-ion cells on a large enough scale to keep prices down.

Tesla previously quoted a target price of around $40,000 for this latest model, with a range of around 200 miles per charge. It should also significantly increase Tesla’s sales volume, just as the small luxury sedans from U.S., German, and Japanese carmakers form a broad base for their respective brands.

However, unlike the predominant trend of familial styling seen among those other cars, the Tesla probably won’t look like a shrunken Model S. Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen previously said Tesla won’t do a “unit face” for all of its cars.

Considering how different the entry-level Tesla may be under the skin from the Model S and Model X, that would be fitting.

Whatever it ends up looking like, this model likely won’t appear before 2016. In the meantime, Tesla is expected to launch the Model X next year.