Tesla CEO Elon Musk reveals Model Y electric SUV: 'It will ride like a sports car'

Nathan Bomey

Tesla unveiled the Model Y SUV late Thursday in the Los Angeles area, marking the debut of a long-awaited electric vehicle that CEO Elon Musk predicted will be the company's best seller.

A two-row version with battery range of 300 miles and a starting price of $47,000 will arrive in fall 2020, he said. It will go 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds.

A performance model starting at $60,000 will also be available in that time frame, Tesla said. A three-row version will also be offered.

A base model with battery range of 230 miles and a starting price of $39,000 will arrive "sometime in 2021," Musk said. It will go 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Tesla later pegged the base version's arrival at spring 2021.

In that price range, the vehicle is more expensive than the Model 3 compact car but less expensive than the ultra-luxury Model X SUV.

"I'm confident of any mid-size SUV it will be the one you want," Musk said.

While Musk called it a mid-size model, industry analysts may classify it as a compact SUV since it shares an architectural platform and about 75 percent of the same parts as the Model 3.

From a design perspective, the Model Y looks like a hatchback version of the Model 3. Like its sibling vehicle, it has no grille, since electric vehicles don't need one.

J.D. Power estimated that the Model Y's optional features, including self-driving capability, will make the price range as much as $85,000.

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Musk pledged that it will be the safest vehicle in its class and will have tremendous driving capability.

"It has the functionality of an SUV but it will ride like a sports car," he said. "This thing will ride really tight around corners."

He predicted that it would outsell the Model 3, Model X and Model S ultra-luxury sedan combined.

Americans purchased 1.4 million SUVs in the range of $40,000 to $90,000 in 2018, according to industry data source J.D. Power.

"This means if Tesla captures only a modest portion of this segment, it will deliver significant sales growth," according to J.D. Power analysts.

"While some have speculated that the Model Y may cannibalize demand for the Model 3, expanding into the SUV segment opens more sales potential with just one model than sales of all three of Tesla’s models offered in 2018 combined."

For now, the Model 3 is the company's best seller. It carries a base price of $35,000 but is often purchased for well over $40,000. The $35,000 version only recently became available to order.

The Model X starts at $88,000 and can cost more than $100,000. The Model S starts at $79,000 and can also cost more than $100,000. 

One key question is can Tesla stick to its predicted timeline for making the Model Y and delivering it to buyers? The company is notorious for missing initial targets.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tesla CEO Elon Musk reveals Model Y electric SUV: 'It will ride like a sports car'