Tesla unveils Model Y
At the Tesla Los Angeles Design Studio on March 15th in Hawthorne CA, CEO Elon Musk unveiled his electric car company’s latest model, the Model Y. The company has high hopes for its latest offering, based on Model 3 underpinnings, which will enter the fast-growing crossover segment in late 2020.
“I'm a confident that, of any midsize SUV, it'll be the one you want,” said Musk at the unveiling. “I think we'll probably do more Model Ys than S, X, and 3 combined, most likely.”
Earlier in March on Twitter he previewed the car: “Model Y, being an SUV, is about 10% bigger than Model 3, so will cost about 10% more, & have slightly less range for same battery.”
In the January 2019 fourth quarter and full year 2018 update for investors, Tesla revealed that Model Y will be built on the Model 3 platform and is designed to share about 75% of its components with that model. So, the cost of the Model Y production line should be substantially lower than that for the Model 3 line in Fremont, and the production ramp should also be faster. In 2019 the company will start tooling for Model Y, for volume production by the end of 2020, most likely in the U.S. at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. The new Gigafactory in Shanghai will also produce the Model Y for China.
Teslas are known for their performance, but at the unveiling Musk emphasized safety: “At Tesla, we actually always design with safety as the number one goal.” Like the Model 3, which Musk emphasized has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the U.S. government, he expects Model Y will have a similar result—five stars in every category. “We expect it will be the safest midsize SUV in the world, by far,” he added. Being built from the ground up as an electric vehicle helps that cause, the low center of gravity, a rigid body structure, and large crumple zones help to provide that protection.
That body has been carefully designed for aerodynamics, “testing out at a 0.23 drag coefficient, which is extremely good for an SUV,” said Musk. Combined with a high-efficiency powertrain, with responsive motors and leading battery technology, it makes for a crossover that is highly efficient in terms of energy usage, meaning a driver can achieve better range with less energy than other EVs on the market.
The Model Y will start at $39,000 for the standard range version hitting the market in Spring 2021, but in the Fall of 2020 it will be preceded by the $47,000 long range, $51,000 dual-motor all-wheel drive, and $60,000 performance variants. The standard range can go 230 mi (370 km) on a charge, do 120 mph (193 km/h), and reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from rest in 5.9 s. The long range version logically goes the furthest on a charge at 300 mi (482 km), and the performance has the best top speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) and 0-60 mph time of 3.5 s. When charging is required away from home, the Model Y is compatible with the current network of more than 12,000 Superchargers in 36 countries, including the new V3 Superchargers coming online with charging at rates up to 1000 mi of charge per hour.
As with all recent Teslas, the battery pack mounted low in the floor enables that very low center of gravity, and “the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car. So this thing will be really tight in corners,” said Musk.
The all-electric crossover is designed to carry seven adults and their gear with an optional third row of seats. Inside, Model Y's panoramic glass roof and high seating creates a feeling of spaciousness and offers an expansive view from every seat. The front trunk and split-folding second-row seats provide a total of 66 ft³ (1870 L) of cargo volume.
Like the Model 3, the crossover requires no keys, but instead connects to your smartphone for easy entry and exit. Inside is a single 15-in touchscreen interface for most secondary car controls. And the Tesla mobile app for unique, easy-to-access features like remote unlock, Summon, remote pre-conditioning, location tracking, and speed-limit mode.
Another Tesla hallmark, over the air updates, will enable continued improvements to the Model Y’s Autopilot ADAS and semi-autonomous functions.
“As I've said publicly, we expect to be feature-complete with self driving some time later this year,” said Muck. “As we prove out the safety with billions of miles/kilometers, we will, from our standpoint, feel it is safe enough [for drivers] to not pay attention, and then get the regulatory approval sometime thereafter. It'll be able to do basically anything, by the end of this year just with software upgrades, which is pretty cool.”