Tesla has missed its own self-imposed deadlines on numerous occasions, but that’s not the case with the Model Y — it’s running significantly ahead of schedule. Tesla announced the Model Y crossover electric vehicle last year, targeting fall 2020 for deliveries. It’s not even spring, but Tesla has already started delivering the first Model Ys to buyers.
Tesla saw great success with the Model 3, so much so that it outsold the company’s other vehicles by a wide margin. It sought to build on that success with the Model Y by borrowing as much as possible from the 3. That, apparently, helped Tesla get the car out to customers much faster than expected.
It appears Tesla learned its lesson from the Model X development. The company’s first crossover SUV debuted in 2015 after numerous delays caused by the ambitious addition of features and the quirky “falcon wing” doors. The Model X ended up much more expensive than expected by the time it shipped. Tesla is exercising more restraint with the Model Y.
The Model 3 and Model Y are very similar, but the Y isn’t just a 3 with a tweaked chassis. The Model Y is 2 inches longer, 2.8 inches wider, and 7.1 inches taller than the Model 3. It also has a 1.1-inch higher ground clearance and a 2.2-inch wider wheel track. The Model Y has a hatchback design, which visually differentiates it from the Model 3. It sports 68 cubic feet of cargo space, and the rear seats fold down when needed. All these changes make the Model Y about 350 pounds heavier than the Model 3.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised you’d be able to get a Model Y for under $40,000. However, just like the $35,000 Model 3, that’s easier said than done. The company is focusing on the Long Range and Performance variants of the car, which retail for $52,990 and $60,990, respectively. These are both dual-motor vehicles with 315-316 miles of range. The Performance version can manage 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, but the Long Range can only do that in 4.8 seconds (which is still quick). The cheaper standard range Model Y won’t go into production until early 2021. You can’t order that one yet, but the Long Range and Performance models are shipping as quickly as Tesla can build them.
The sales potential of a crossover SUV in the US is higher than a sedan such as the Tesla Model 3. Last year, sedans fell to just 28 percent of the market, from 43 percent just five years ago — this in a market with 17.1 million total sales per year. The rest is classified as “light trucks,” which comprises both SUVs and pickups. Once production is fully ramped, it could well be the Model Y that is Tesla’s sales leader.
Bill Howard contributed to this article.
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