UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that the message sent to Tesla customers in Norway may have been sent by accident. We have contact Tesla for confirmation and will keep you updated as soon as we know more.
Tesla may be preparing to begin deliveries of the Model Y to Europe, judging by messages sent to customers in Norway.
The Model Y electric crossover, which is based on the EV maker’s best-selling Model 3 electric sedan, is the fourth and latest vehicle from Tesla and was first revealed in March, 2019.
Tesla officially commenced deliveries of the Model Y in the US in mid-March – and newTesla customers in Norway are now reporting the Californian car maker has sent messages telling them to prepare for the delivery of their Model Ys.
The message, shared in the form of a smartphone screenshot via social forum Reddit on Wednesday (Australian time), says (translated from Norwegian), “Prepare for the delivery of your Model Y“.
How soon deliveries might begin is not made clear in the shared screenshot, but going on similar messages in the US which we starting seeing reported in social media at the end of February, it could mean Model Y deliveries in Norway are just weeks away.
If so, it also reveals how far Tesla has come in ramping up delivery timeframes and how much it has learned from its experience with its first mass-volume electric vehicle, the Model 3.
Limited production of the Model 3 began in 2017, and its difficult 2018 production ramp up and subsequent delivery to global markets in 2019 is now legendary, as Tesla went from planning to build largely using automated machinery to building a new general assembly line for its workers in a massive tent, drawing considerable criticism from naysayers and shortsellers.
But build it did, going from first deliveries in the domestic US market in mid-2017 to deliveries to Europe and China in early 2019, approximately 18 months after its first release.
It has been a very different story for the Model Y, which is built from about three-quarters of the Model 3 according to statements made in quarterly earnings calls by CEO and co-founder Elon Musk.
First, it is on record that development time for the Model Y has exceeded expectations, with Musk first telling investors that Tesla would bring forward the Model Y release a full three months from the northern hemisphere autumn (fall) to summer. In fact, the Model Y release ended up being brought forward another 3 months to spring.
That limited production of the Model Y had commenced was confirmed by Musk at the company’s 2019 fourth quarter earnings call in January 2020, when Musk told investors that the biggest challenge for Tesla would be keeping up with demand.
But now it appears that either Tesla has made more Model Ys than it needs in the US, or the US demand for the Model Y has markedly dropped off as the rapidly spreading Covid-19 takes its toll not only on health but also economies.
Of course, nobody in January was aware the magnitude of the threat a little-understood novel Coronavirus outbreak that had been reported in the Chinese province of Hubei would present.
Since then, many governments around the world have announced lockdown measures to limit the spread of the virus which is now present in 170 countries, regions and territories and has infected nearly 470,000 people and tragically killed more than 20,000 people.
Car makers around the world have made difficult but necessary decisions to halt production in order to keep staff safe, and Tesla’s Fremont factory in Alameda County has been no exception despite at first claiming “essential service” status.
While it is unlikely that its closure will have any great impact on production for the quarter, it is not unlikely that the plan to reopen on March 30 may be delayed as the number of US Covid-19 infections balloon to more than 60,000 and threaten to overtake Italy and China.
Meanwhile, Tesla is planning to reopen its New York Gigafactory in order to make ventilators, following talks with medical equipment maker Medtronics.
Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2020
Tesla has also sourced some 250,000 N95 masks that it is providing to medical facilities such as UW Medicine in Washington.
How the Covid-19 pandemic crisis will ultimately play out in regards to Model Y production we will only know in time – it is only two weeks since Musk said, on March 11, that Tesla would build another factory on the US east coast at which it would also make the Model Y, and was scouting for a central US location at which to make the new but polarising Cybertruck.
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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.