As Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, “We are bringing sexy back quite literally,” with the midsize SUV Y completing the Tesla line of Models S, 3, and X.
Speaking to a crowded room at the Tesla Design Studio in Southern California, Musk confirmed that the car will cost 10 percent more than the Model 3, which has a base price of $35,000. The starting Model Y base price is $39,000 for about 230 miles of range. The original Tesla SUV, 2015’s Model X, starts at $88,000.
The cheapest version is expected in spring 2021. The long-range 300-mile range version will be available for $47,000 fall 2020.
The Y will be what the Tesla Model 3 was to the Tesla Model S: a more affordable, accessible version of a luxury vehicle. The Y will be smaller than the X, and only 10 percent bigger than the Model 3, with a hatchback instead of a sloping backside. It fits up to seven people.
“It feels like the Model 3,” Musk said, noting the similar panoramic glass roof and dashboard design. The car will come with the semi-autonomous driving system, Autopilot, which Musk assured again will be full self-driving capable by the end of the year.
In preview photos the Y had no side mirrors. But using cameras instead of physical mirrors still hasn’t been approved by regulators, so you’ll notice the car shown at the event has side mirrors.
The car is designed to use a lot of the same parts as the Model 3 (Musk put the number at 75 percent in an earnings call earlier this year) so ramping up production shouldn’t be as difficult.
“It has the functionality of an SUV, rides like a sports car,” Musk summed up.
Musk previously said he was planning to build the car at the Nevada Gigafactory, not the Fremont, Calif., plant where the Model 3 was assembled. But he didn’t get into those logistics at the unveiling.
The last time Tesla unveiled a new vehicle was the Model 3 in 2016 — and the company didn’t start shipping the cars until the very end of 2017, with many customers waiting well into 2018 for their cars. Musk said that the Model Y will start production in 2020 with steady deliveries by the end of that year.
Data from J.D. Powers, the consumer insights firm, shows SUVs are very popular right now, making up 49 percent of U.S. car sales. Other compact electric SUVs have already hit the market, including Jaguar’s I-Pace, Audi’s E-tron, the Mercedes EQC and others.
Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds, said the company’s research found that 43 percent of all Teslas were sold in California. Maybe the addition of a more affordable SUV can make Tesla more popular outside of the Golden State.
Musk predicted on stage that the Y will sell more cars than the S and 3 combined. That SUV demand is hot.
As soon as Musk’s speech wrapped up, the Model Y was listed on the official Tesla website. The order page was even available for anyone eager to buy a car and receive it in more than a year.