Tesla fans have been looking forward to the Model Y for years, but after a number of delays, it still isn’t entering production. The automaker now says on its website that production for North America is slated to begin in late 2020, while production for Europe and China.
News and plans around the Tesla Model Y have changed quite a bit over the years, but we’ve been tracking it, including the delays. This article will cover changes in the release date, along with updated information on price, specs and features from the company’s March 2019 revealing.
Features and specs
After months of rumors and speculations, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk officially unveiled the much-hyped Tesla Model Y electric SUV crossover at the company’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, Calif in March 2019. Unlike other Tesla product launches, the Model Y unveiling was a relatively subdued affair. In terms of appearance, the Model Y looks more like a hatchback than an SUV.
Its interior looks similar to that of the Model 3, and it has enough room for seven people. You can control almost all aspects of the car via controls on the steering wheel, the giant 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, and the stalks on the steering wheel column. It also features a sunroof and 66 cubic feet of cargo space, thanks to the split-folding back seats.
The Tesla Model Y doesn’t bring any revolutionary new features; certainly, there are no falcon-wing doors. Instead, it focuses on what customers expect from their electric cars. It is built on the Model 3 platform, which allowed Tesla to develop a new vehicle without burning a lot of cash. It also means Tesla could simplify the production process and bring the SUV crossover to the market at the earliest possible time.
At the unveiling event in March 2019, Musk showed off a blue Model Y that looks similar to the Model 3, but it was roomier in the back and has a higher roofline. The Tesla CEO spent relatively little time talking about the new SUV crossover. He told the audience that manufacturing automobile is far more complex than you think.
Musk said during the unveiling, “It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car. So this thing will be really tight on corners.” He claimed that it’s going to be the “safest mid-sized SUV by far.” Musk expects the vehicle to receive 5-star crash ratings and high safety marks. The SUV crossover is “feature complete” and will be able to “do basically anything just with software upgrades.
We are gradually learning more and more about the Model Y. A number of job postings for the Model Y project have been spotted in the past. And the teaser images are shadowy, suggesting that there will be no side mirrors. Early rumors suggested that the Model Y would be based on an entirely new platform. But Tesla later decided not to develop a new platform from scratch for the Model Y. Instead, the vehicle will be based on the Model 3 platform to speed up development, boost profitability and bring it to the market faster.
Model Y release date timeline
Musk told investors in May 2018 that he had “recently approved the prototype to go into production.” The fact that the final prototype was approved for production suggested the vehicle was far along in the development process already then. Musk said, “We’ve made significant progress on the Model Y.”
Tesla announced the Model 3 prototype back in 2016, but it wasn’t released to the public until after undergoing additional modifications. In May 2018, Elon Musk teased that the Model Y could be unveiled “anytime from late this year to mid next year.” He mentioned March 15, 2019 as a possible Model Y unveiling date.
Volume production won’t begin until 2020, which Tesla has been targeting for a while. Musk has promised that the Model Y would bring about a “manufacturing revolution.” The EV maker faces a big challenge when it comes to Model Y production. The Fremont, Calif. facility is running to overcapacity. The company had to set up a giant tent in the parking lot of the Fremont factory to meet the demand for Model 3.
So where will Tesla manufacture the Model Y? The Gigafactory is one option. The company currently occupies only about a third of the Gigafactory to make batteries and Model 3 drivetrains. There is plenty of room to set up tools for Model Y assembly there. Another possibility is the upcoming Gigafactory in China. The China factory will start Model 3 production towards the end of 2019. Tesla could also produce Model Y in China, but setting up tools for two different vehicles will be a challenging task.
Elon Musk stated in May 2018 that the upcoming car will represent a “manufacturing revolution.” This news came despite the fact that the company was still struggling to get the mass-market Model 3 out of the door and to customers who have pre-ordered.
This news came in an earnings call in early May 2018 where Musk stated that Tesla up to that point had yet to spend any capital expenditures on the Model Y, but that it was spending cash on early product designs – suggesting that this “revolutionary” Tesla Model Y is set to begin production sooner rather than later.
Must has stated that he wants to avoid the pain he’s experiencing with Model 3 production, and will be taking a different approach to the Tesla Model Y when it comes time to produce the vehicles. Musk has long been a proponent of automation when it comes to manufacturing, but has since stated that he may have underestimated the importance of the human element when it comes to manufacturing. Whether this manufacturing revolution means adding in more human influence remains to be seen.
Musk has stated that the majority of the Tesla Y manufacturing process will still be automated, however, which reaffirms the company’s commitment to being a step ahead of the game in more ways than one. The car industry might not be where it needs to be for full automation, however, so it’s possible that some changes may need to be made to the process in order to make sure the Model Y production goes a little more smoothly than what we’ve seen with the Model 3.
The manufacturing changes may be more from a battery design standpoint, however, with news that Musk plans to ditch the 12-volt battery architecture that has been in used in Tesla vehicles thus far. This would dramatically simplify the process of manufacturing the vehicles, and might make it easier for the company to get the Tesla Y out of the factory and into the driveway of eager buyers
Although Musk has stated that Tesla Model Y production would begin this year in the past, he has since revised his prediction – saying that production won’t start until “early 2020” at the earliest. One of the main problems the company is facing is a lack of space to actually produce the vehicles, with the Tesla Fremon factory being “crazy packed.” Where exactly Musk plans to expand the facilities to remains to be seen, but the Tesla Model Y would certainly have to be produced elsewhere.
Price: four models, from $39,000 to $60,000
We now know there will be four different variants of the Tesla Model Y. The Standard Range will have a range of 230 miles and the top speed of 120mph. It can go from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds. It will arrive in the spring of 2021 at a price tag of $39,000. This is the cheapest of the lot. Considering Tesla’s struggle with pricing and production, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Standard Range Model Y gets delayed or carries a higher price than announced.
The other three variants — Long Range, Dual-motor AWD, and Performance — were slated to launch in the fall of 2020, although it’s unclear whether that timeline remains. The Long Range version will have a range of 300 miles and the top speed of 130mph. It can go from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and is going to cost you $47,000. The Dual-motor AWD variant is going to set you back by $51,000. It will take just 4.8 seconds to go from 0-60mph. With a range of 280 miles, it will have a top speed of 135mph.
The Performance version is going to be the most expensive of the lot at $60,000. Elon Musk claimed it would go from 0-60mph in just 3.5 seconds. However, its range is going to be less than the Long Range model at 280 miles on single charge. The Performance Model Y will have a top speed of 150 mph.
You can reserve your Model Y by putting down a refundable deposit of $2,500. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said the $39,000 and $47,000 price points for the Standard Range and Long Range variants will help in the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Tesla already sells an SUV in the form of the Model X, but it costs close to $90,000 and caters to the luxury segment.
While the Tesla Model Y will benefit from the growing sales of SUVs, it will not be an easy ride for Tesla. By the time Tesla starts Model Y deliveries, the market will be flooded with electric vehicles — including SUVs — from established players such as Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Ford, General Motors, and others. German and Japanese automakers are going to give Tesla some fierce competition in the electric SUV space.
On top of that, the Elon Musk-led company is not in the best of financial shape. Tesla recently laid off about 7% of its workforce to cut costs. Earlier this month, the EV maker had to make a $920 million payment to retire convertible bonds, and another $183 million debt is due next month.