Even as Tesla works around the clock to bring the Model 3 entry-luxury sedan up to mass-market production, the company is laying out rose pedals for its next car. The Tesla Model Y will be a small crossover SUV to fill out the cheap(er) end of Tesla's lineup. It will be vehicle number five in the Tesla lineup alongside the Model X mid-sized SUV, Model S full-size luxury sedan, the upcoming redesigned , and the Model 3.
So far, Tesla’s teasers for the Model Y have been vague to the extreme. The company released a cryptic image at a shareholder meeting in June 2018, which you can see at along with the frontal teaser shot released in June 2017. It doesn't reveal much—not even the back half of the vehicle.
The Model Y appears to have a windshield so steeply raked you might call it a skylight. Aside from that, the pictures don’t tell us much other than that the Y has at least one wheel and is presumably made of matter. Musk said in May that Tesla is still flipping through , so the final shape isn't even pinned down yet.
The real Model Y unveiling date remains an open question. In May 2018, after somebody tweeted at Musk asking for the unveiling date, he responded “March 15” (ostensibly in 2019). “I just made that up, because the Ides of March sounded good. But consider it real. We could unveil Model Y anytime from late this year to mid next year, so March 15 is about right.” Keep in mind, however, that Telsa “unveiled” the Model 3 in early 2016 but didn’t reveal a real finished product until much later.
What We Know
Given that the Model Y will be a crossover built on Model 3 architecture, much of what we know about it comes from that car. Assuming Tesla doesn’t stretch the Model 3’s 113.2-inch wheelbase, the Y’s likeliest competitors in price and size will be smaller crossovers like the and . Like those vehicles, the Y will be a car-based SUV that combines the tall seating position and spacious rear cargo area of a truckier SUV with the fuel economy and more docile handling of a passenger car.
Industry pundits the Model Y much more than the Model 3's $35,000 base price. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get a Y for that price right away. Base price doesn’t mean much if you can’t order a car anywhere in that ballpark, and even now, many months into Model 3 production, Tesla is focusing on optioned-out $50,000-60,000 versions of the car, where profit margins are higher. It announced in May a new that'll cost $78,000.
Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has said the company is in to produce base versions of the Model 3. Tesla is prioritizing the luxury market to make enough cash to keep the company afloat before it starts building the high-volume entry-level cars upon which Tesla, its investors, and industry analysts pin the company's chances to . It’s reasonable to expect the same pattern with the Model Y. Whatever its base price is, you might have to wait longer after release to buy one at that price.
The Race Is On
As of May 2018, Tesla said it hadn’t invested any capital in Model Y production aside from commissioning those early designs. No surprise there: Tesla's factory in Fremont, Calif. is “jammed to the gills” to meet production goals, so the Model Y will a brand-new factory. Keep an ear out toward the for news of where Tesla will build it.
Once Tesla nails down harder the details of the Model Y's design, the company will likely unveil it even before the pieces to produce are in place. Musk has said the Model Y should enter . That gives Tesla about two years to settle upon the Model Y's design, build a new factory for it, purchase manufacturing equipment, strike deals with parts suppliers, test prototypes, and bring it to market. It's awfully fast for a company that blows through self-set deadlines like hail through tissue paper.
Musk said he sees Model Y production hitting units per year, “just to give some sort of flavor for optimism.” Take any Tesla time frame with a salt mine. Though Musk says Tesla from the Model 3 delays, and that the Model Y will be a “manufacturing revolution,” neither he nor Tesla have named specifics on what they've learned or how Model Y production will differ. For now and the near future we'll be following breadcrumbs. Keep an eye on this page to be updated throughout 2018 and 2019 as we learn more