This is the Tesla Model Y, the electric carmaker’s new compact SUV due out in 2020. The long range version will travel 300 miles on single charge, and will sell for $47,000, while the $60,000 performance version will be capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It’s Elon Musk’s fifth car ever to hit the road, and the company’s second attempt at a mass-market electric vehicle.
“It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car,” Musk said. “So this thing will be really tight on corners.”
The $47,000 long range Model Y will come first in the fall of 2020, and will have a range of 300 miles, Musk said. Tesla will also sell an all-wheel-drive dual motor version for $51,000, and a performance version for $60,000— both of which will also be available in fall 2020. The cheaper, standard range version with a range of 230 miles won’t be available until 2021, Musk said, and will sell for $39,000.
Roomier than a Model 3 but not as imposing as a Model X, the Model Y can seat seven, as demonstrated during the event Thursday evening at Tesla’s design studio outside Los Angeles.
Musk said he anticipates 5-star crash ratings and high safety marks across the board. “This will be the safest mid-sized SUV by far,” he boasted. (The Model 3 recently lost its coveted “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports for reliability issues.)
The interior of the vehicle will look similar to the Model 3, only more so. A brief glimpse of the interior design revealed the same stark look, with a 15-inch touchscreen perched on an otherwise vacant dashboard. The Model Y will have a panoramic sunroof and 66 cubic feet of cargo space. A third row of seating to fit a total of seven passengers won’t be available until 2021, though.
“The cool thing is, it’s ‘feature complete,’” Musk said, after ticking through some of the Model Y’s future self-driving features. “It will be able to do basically anything just with software upgrades.”
The Model Y was revealed at a crucial time for Tesla. In its first full year of production, the Model 3 sedan became the best-selling EV in the world in 2018 — and that’s just in North America. But Tesla’s drive to make that many Model 3s nearly killed the company, according to Musk. And there has been speculation that Tesla may have exhausted demand for the car in the US, which is why the company turned its attention to Europe and China. Even there, early sales of the Model 3 have been slow.
Tesla recently introduced the long-promised $35,000 “standard range” Model 3 as a way to reach more customers, but the release was overshadowed by the company’s decision to close most of its stores and shift to online sales in order to cut operating costs. The move also allowed Tesla to lower prices on its other cars, but after backlash from customers, employees, and even landlords, Tesla decided to halt the store closings (which, in turn, forced the company to raise prices again).
Because the Model Y shares so much in common with the Model 3, it should theoretically be less of a drain on the company’s resources. It also represents a huge growth opportunity, as SUV sales are through the roof in the US.
Tesla will have to execute well in order to take advantage of that opportunity, according to Jessica Caldwell, the executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. Competition in the SUV space is fierce, and essentially all the German automakers are already shipping (or about to ship) their own electric SUVs.
“If Tesla truly wants to be a mainstream brand, it’s going to have to figure out how to sell cars to people besides young men in California,” Caldwell said in a statement. “Tesla has the right foundation for the Model Y to be a turning point: Tesla has the youngest buyer base of any luxury brand, and the Model X has more female buyers than any other vehicle in the brand’s lineup. If the Model Y is priced right, offers a roomy interior, and delivers flawless safety and quality, it has the potential to be the ‘it’ vehicle for young families.”