What We Know About the Tesla Model Y

Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics Editors
Photo credit: Tesla

From Popular Mechanics

Feast your eyes on the Model Y. At an event at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles on March 14, Elon Musk finally revealed the Tesla Model Y, a small crossover based on the Model 3 that marks Tesla's newest production vehicle. Musk had joked last May that he'd reveal the car on the Ides of March. With this Pi Day reveal, he was one day early.

The Basics

The Tesla Model Y is a small crossover SUV to fill out the cheap(er) end of Tesla's lineup. It will be vehicle number five in the Tesla lineup alongside the Model X mid-sized SUV, Model S full-size luxury sedan, the upcoming redesigned Roadster, and the Model 3.

Just as the X is a crossover built upon the Model S platform, the Y will be a crossover built upon the Model 3 platform. Model Y will share about three-quarters of its parts with the Model 3.

The Price

The Y is slightly larger and more expensive than the 3, with slightly less range. The base Model Y begins at $39,000 and delivers 0 to 60 acceleration in 5.9 seconds and an electric range of 230 miles. As was the case with the Model 3, the cheapest model will be the last one available coming in 2021.

A Long Range edition bumps up the range to 300 miles, but increases the price to $47,000. Get the Dual Motor AWD model and you'll pay $51,000 and get 280 miles of range. The Performance model begin at $60,000 with 280 miles of range and 0-to-60 in 3.5 seconds. Those models are coming in fall 2020.

What It Looks Like

Alongside the version it showed off in real life, Tesla has released a series of images of the Model Y:


Why the Y?

Because crossovers sell. JD Power says that about half of new car sales are SUVs and crossovers, and automakers are chasing that market share like mad.

As far as the name goes: Musk let it be known that he wanted to call his first three models the S, E, and X because of what they spelled out, but had to settle for calling his smaller sedan the Model 3 because the name Model E was already owned. Add the Model Y to the mix and Musk's cars spell out S3XY.


Where It Fits

Given that the Model Y will be a crossover built on Model 3 architecture, much of what we know about it comes from that car. Assuming Tesla doesn’t stretch the Model 3’s 113.2-inch wheelbase too much, the Y’s likeliest competitors in price and size will be smaller crossovers like the BMW X3 and Acura MDX. Like those vehicles, the Y will be a car-based SUV that combines the tall seating position and spacious rear cargo area of a truckier SUV with the fuel economy and more docile handling of a passenger car.

Photo credit: Tesla

Industry pundits suppose the Model Y won't cost much more than the Model 3's $35,000 base price. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get a Y for that price right away. The Verge says Tesla will build the Y at the Gigafactory outside Reno, Nevada, but that it won't begin volume production until 2020.

Photo credit: Tesla/Electrek

Musk said he sees Model Y production hitting one million units per year, “just to give some sort of flavor for optimism.” Take any Tesla time frame with a salt mine. Though Musk says Tesla has learned from the Model 3 delays, and that the Model Y will be a “manufacturing revolution,” neither he nor Tesla have named specifics on what they've learned or how Model Y production will differ. For now and the near future we'll be following breadcrumbs. Keep an eye on this page to be updated throughout 2018 and 2019 as we learn more

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