The fact that the new Tesla Model Y is most often compared to its Model 3 stablemate is hardly surprising. Tesla says that three-quarters of the components of the new Model Y are shared by its predecessor, even if some of the differences are obvious, such as a motorised hatch (or liftgate) at the back, greater boot space, and new seating configurations.
A new review of the Tesla Model Y – described as an SUV “crossover” – from technology and Tesla Youtube reviewer Ryan Shaw highlights some of the less obvious differences.
Shaw’s video – which you can view in full at the bottom of this article – looks at some of these differences, and while you may have heard of some of them, there are some that may surprise you.
Pump it up
Number one is the fact that the Model Y is the first Tesla vehicle to use a heat pump. The benefit of using a heat pump, as we explained in this article, is that has far superior efficiency compared to the resistive heating used in other Tesla vehicles including the Model 3.
Essentially, a heat pump draws heat from the air rather than generating it, and according to the EEC this can be as much as 6kW of heat for every kilowatt of energy used.
According to Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk, the heat pump designed by Tesla’s engineering team is top notch.
“Model Y heat pump is some of the best engineering I’ve seen in a while. Team did next-level work,” said Musk on social media channel Twitter in response to an article about the Model Y heat pump last Monday. “The heat pump and rear body castings are a step beyond.”
The use of a heat pump will be most useful for those living in cold climates, as it should reduce the reduction of driving range often reported when demands on the battery increase due to heating needs, higher drag in cold air, and thermal management of the battery.
Shaw also points out another addition to the Model Y that will be a distinct improvement for those living in cold climates – in-built heating of radars.
As Musk pointed out in 2016, radars have an advantage over LiDar in that they can see in low visibility conditions caused by moisture or smoke in the air.
Good thing about radar is that, unlike lidar (which is visible wavelength), it can see through rain, snow, fog and dust
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2016
But not in crusted on snow, it turns out. In 2018, Musk responded to a Tweep who commented that Autopilot and cruise control were not working in snowy conditions that it would probably be worth adding a radar heater.
Long-term, the car will work purely on vision, with radar just a plus, but maybe worth adding a radar heater anyway
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2018
And it appears that this is now the case, for the Model Y at least, although one might assume that if this change has been made for the Model Y it may also be made for new Model 3 rolling off the line.
Side pillar camera openings
This seems like a small matter, but one Shaw clearly feels worth mentioning. On the Model 3 the opening for the side pillar camera is quite large, increasing the chance it may be obstructed by glare if driving at a certain angle to the sun.
When this happens, Autopilot may have limited functionality or not be able to operate at all, says Shaw.
However, as Show points out, the side pillar camera opening on Model Y is smaller, and therefore less likely to get glare.
We’ve seen in early photos that the Model Y has at least 2 USB-C ports facing the second row seats, but we now know there is also another inside the front console alongside a USB-A port.
Unfortunately, these only run on USB2.0 rather than the faster USB3.0 says Shaw. It is not yet clear if fast charging available in the Model Y.
What has been dropped
Some of the obvious downsides of the Model Y come from its upsides. Most significantly, its larger crossover size means it is about 10% heavier, and slower, than the Model 3.
But there are also some other features that have unfortunately been dropped on the Model Y that are available on the Model 3 (in the US at least).
One is the auto dimming mirrors, which in the Model 3 would dim down rear vision mirrors at night if somebody was shining too-bright headlights when driving close behind.
Homelink (Tesla’s auto garage door opener) is another, according to Shaw. This has been dropped in Australia (we’ve heard of some customers at least following up for an install of Homelink after it was dropped despite being listed at time of order), and now it appears it won’t come standard in the Model Y either.
As a combined software/hardware product it can be fitted retroactively, but for a price.
Another exclusion is Track Mode, at least for the Performance Model Y. Track Mode – a customisation system that allows the driver more control over things like balance and torque – comes standard with the Performance Model 3. Shaw thinks this could be added in the future, which would be done easily enough seeing as it is a pure over-the-air update.
Lastly, the Model Y does not currently come with a pedestrian warning system. This is a low volume noise that has been legislated in Europe for electric vehicles driving at low speeds, to warn pedestrians of an approaching vehicle.
While Tesla has added an AVAS (Acoustic Vehicle Alert System) to the Model 3, it does not come currently with the Model Y. This will need to be rectified by September 2020 when similar legislation comes into force in the US, says Shaw. Australian authorities are considering similar laws.
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Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that it is unclear whether the USB-C ports enable fast charging.
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.