At a launch party in Los Angeles last night, Tesla revealed what could be its most important vehicle yet.
While Tesla is accepting $2,500 reservation payments today (fully refundable), the first deliveries of the Model Y won't begin for well over a year - the autumn of 2020 is projected availability.
Expectations from the Model Y were, therefore, fairly low in terms of just how SUV-inspired its design might be.
Three years later, affordable long-range electric vehicles no longer have such a pent-up demand.
The Model X - the Y's more expensive sibling - has a starting price of $79,500. The point of a auto like this is to build it on the same line as its sister model, reduce tooling investments and supply chain variation to a minimum and get it to market rapidly so it can start boosting profit margins. According to documents leaked by Business Insider, it should be August, but as the Model 3 and its shanty tent production line showed, Tesla is still only half way through the book on how to build a auto.
At the risk of sounding cynical, I couldn't help but wonder how many early adopters of the Model 3 are going to go out and buy the Model Y as a replacement.
The SR can go from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, tops out at 120 mph, has an effective range of 230 miles, and will start at $39,000. There was no verification from the company that battery packs will be the same as Model 3, but with range and performance down slightly from the equivalent sedan, that's likely. Standard Range model acceleration is 5.9s for the 0-60, plus a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Top speed is listed as 120 miles per hour for the Standard Range, up to 150 miles per hour for the Performance.
Elon Musk unveiled the brand new vehicle from the event live from the Hawethorne design studio, where parts unveilings have been made before. There are only so many buyers who can fork over $145,000 or so for a nicely loaded Model X. There are hundreds of thousands of buyers who can order a crossover that costs $40,200.
Tesla is now going through hard times, with Musk charged by the SEC with contempt for tweeting "inaccurate and material" information about the company. The SUV comes in a variety of versions, depending on the customer's choice of battery range and other features, like all-wheel drive. The lingering question, though, is whether the Model Y is crossover enough. Suppliers were originally told production would start in November 2019, sources told Reuters a year ago. Musk said the cheaper electric crossover sports utility vehicle (SUV) will be available from the spring of 2021. If the Model Y does away with Tesla's trademark consumer-pleasing uniqueness without improving its efficiency with investor capital, the Model Y could signal the beginning of the end of an automaker that will make a fascinating case study for generations. not with a bang, but with a whimper.