Tesla has officially unveiled its all-electric compact SUV. Called the Model Y, it will act as a direct rival for the Jaguar I-Pace, the Audi e-Tron and the upcoming Mercedes EQC when it reaches the global marketplace in late 2020, with prices starting from $39,000 (around £30,000).
Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed pricing and performance specifications for the Model Y’s pecking-order during its online reveal. The line-up opens with a rear-wheel-drive ‘Standard Range’ version, due for market in Spring 2021, with a top speed of 120mph, a 0–60mph time of 5.9 seconds and a range of 230 miles.
A larger capacity ‘Long Range’ variant will be available from the Model Y’s launch in autumn 2020, priced at $47,000 (roughly £35,000). Musk claims it will have an improved top speed of 130mph, a faster 0–60mph time of 5.5 seconds and a ‘usable’ all-electric range of 300 miles. Like the base-model, it will be rear-wheel-drive.
Musk has previously verified that the Model Y will share around 75 percent of its components will the recently-launched Model 3 saloon, including the platform. To achieve its maximum range of 300 miles, it’s likely that the Model Y will share the same 75kWh battery pack as the Tesla Model 3 Performance.
A Model Y ‘Dual Motor AWD’ version will also be available from launch in autumn 2020, starting from $51,000 (around £39,000). Range is a claimed 280 miles, while the top speed and 0–60mph time stand at 135mph and 4.8 seconds respectively.
Finally, Musk announced the range-topping Model Y ‘Performance’. Priced at $60,000 (about £45,000), it will have a range of 280 miles, a top speed of 150mph and a claimed 0–60mph time of 3.5 seconds. Given Tesla’s parts-sharing strategy, its flagship Model Y will probably use the same powertrain as the Model 3 Performance, providing an output of around 450bhp.
Tesla expects the Model Y to perform well in safety tests, anticipating a five-star safety rating under the American NHTSA crash testing programme. Musk was keen to indicate that the Model 3 is one of the safest cars in the US, promising the Model Y would follow suit.
Tesla Model Y: design and manufacture
Tesla’s latest baby SUV is inspired by its larger sibling, the Model X. It retains the X’s four-door silhouette, blanked-off radiator grille, pair of narrow LED headlights and neat ducktail spoiler. However, the ‘Falcon Wing’ doors have been omitted, likely for reasons of cost and complexity.
Most of the Model Y’s interior is lifted from the Model 3. Features include a minimalist dashboard, a panoramic glass roof, a wireless smartphone charger and an enormous 15-inch, centre-mounted infotainment screen, which controls everything on the car; from its navigation system to its glove box lid.
Like the Model X, the Model Y offers seating for up to seven thanks to a pair of stowable seats behind the second row. However, Musk confirmed the extra seating would only be available as an optional extra.
Musk claims that the Model Y “will have the functionality of an SUV, but the capability of a sports car,” promising neat handling, thanks to its low-mounted battery pack. It also has a drag coefficient of 0.23, making it more streamlined than a Toyota Prius.
Elon has previously hinted that the Model Y will be assembled in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory, at the same facility as the firm’s battery packs and electric motors. He intends for the new car’s batteries and powertrains to roll off their respective production lines, straight onto the Model Y’s assembly line.
This revised manufacturing method will eliminate the clumsy transportation network for Tesla batteries and motors between Nevada and California; an issue which currently plagues the assembly lines for the Model S, Model X and Model 3.
Tesla all-electric minibus could be on the cards
Musk recently revealed further details on the Tesla electric minibus, which he first alluded to at the firm’s “Master Plan” conference. His classically-speculative Twitter feed stated that the the new “high passenger density urban transport” vehicle is on the drawing board, and will be “built on a Model X chassis.”
Musk also claimed that the new model’s “people density potential is surprisingly high” so, if the project ever comes to light, it’s likely to be offered with at least eight seats.
Given the chassis already exists, it’s reasonable to assume that Tesla’s new all-electric minibus could appear by the end of 2020, providing the company doesn’t suffer from any more setbacks. Expect the same electric drivetrains, including both two and four-wheel drive, a tablet-style portrait touchscreen on the dash and the autopilot autonomous driving system.
Tesla timeline: what’s coming and when
Musk used the Model Y’s launch as an opportunity to showcase Tesla’s future plans. As well as unveiling the new compact SUV, he also previewed the firm’s upcoming HGV and Roadster. Here’s a look at what you can expect from Tesla over the next two years.
End of 2019
Model 3 UK deliveries: First UK customer deliveries of the Model 3 saloon are due to be made in 2019.
Tesla HGV: Full-size, electric semi-truck arrives next.
Tesla Pick-up: Brand will bring the world’s first electric pick-up to the market towards the end of the decade.
Tesla Model Y: Tesla’s second all-electric SUV reaches the global market.
Tesla Roadster: Second-generation Roadster has been confirmed.
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