Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has finally added form and the shape of a new model to complete his promised electric vehicle acronym S3XY, with the launch of the all-electric, hopefully mass-market Model Y SUV .
The Model Y was unveiled on a livestream event held by the pioneering EV maker, in the most anticipated unveilings of a vehicle since, well, the “mass-market” Model 3 that was unveiled three years ago and has sold nearly 150,000 models since.
The Model will begin production in 2020 (the northern’s hemisphere’s fall, or autumn), with a base model to be released in 2021.
The long range version will be priced at $US47,000, the Dual Motor AWD at $US51,000 and the Performance version will be $US60,000 ($A66,300, $A72,000 and $A84,600 at today’s rates respectively).
The Standard version will cost $US39,000 ($A55,000 at today’s rates), and will be introduced in the northern hemisphere in spring 2021.
Some have lamented that due to the fact the Model Y shares 3/4 of its architecture with the Model 3, it may not have the roominess most come to expect in an SUV.
While the body at first appears to be about the size of a large premium hatchback, it does in fact have a 7 seater option, plus 1.9 metres cubed of cargo space. In short, it is a smaller, and vastly cheaper version of the Model X.
With the same sleek, minimalist dashboard of the Model 3 that does away with the business of instrument clusters so prevalent in traditional vehicles, replaced with the quintessential 15″ tablet display, it retains the cool futuristic edge that Tesla has over its competitors.
Make no mistake, this is not your usual SUV.
Aside from the fact it has zero tailpipe emissions, the Model Y boasts a slightly higher profile than its cousin the Model 3, by virtue of the fact that it is in the sports utility segment – the auto segment that is fast becoming one of the most popular in many markets.
It has a panoramic glass roof keeping it in common with the Model 3, adding to the feeling of space.
One question has been, would Tesla introduce a base version Model Y to match its recently released $US35,000 Model 3 ($A49,800 at today’s rates) from the get go, rather than starting the premium Long Range and Performance versions as has been its modus operandi for the Model 3.
In the lead up to the unveiling, Musk said that due to the increased amount of materials needed for the Model Y’s SUV body, both weight and price would be approximately 10 per cent more than the Model 3.
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
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2019
The higest spec’d variant – the Performance Model Y – will have an acceleration rate of 0-60mph (96.5km/hr) in 3.5 seconds, a real world range of 280 miles (450km) and a top speed of 150mph (241km.hr).
The base Model Y will have an acceleration rate of 0-60mph (96.5km/hr) in 5.9 seconds, a real world range of 230 miles (370km) and a top speed of 120mph 193km.hr).
The Model Y configurator is now live on the US version of Tesla’s website:
While pricing for neither the Model 3 or Model Y have been set for Australia, one bright spark put together an interactive spreadsheet to allow Australian customers to estimate a price for the Model 3 sedan.
While the carmaker has copped some criticism for delays in initial deliveries of the Model 3, it has been delivering on schedule for Europe and even ahead of schedule in the case of China, with the UK and Australia next in line.
CEO and founder Elon Musk believes that demand for the Model Y could outstrip the Model 3, which has proven itself by a very long yard the most popular EV of 2018 and became the USA’s best-seller in its segment late last year.
Based on the success of the Model 3 and the growing popularity of SUVs (which held over 40 per cent of the Australian market at 2018’s end according to industry expert V-Facts), it is thought that the Tesla Model Y could sell as many as double that of the Model 3.
At tonight’s live stream he reconfirmed this expectation: “I think we will sell more Model Y’s than S, X and 3 combined,” Musk said.
“We are bring sexy back, quite literally,” he said.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.