Tesla's compact SUV Model Y will start at $39,000

Tesla's compact SUV Model Y will start at $39,000

Tesla's compact SUV Model Y will start at $39,000

"It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports vehicle", Musk said. He knew there'd be a crossover, which would have to be the X, and with S and X he was two-thirds of the way to spelling out "SEX", which to his schoolboy sense of humor was hilarious. He apparently wanted to go with the Model E name instead of Model 3 but Ford (who also applied to trademark the Model E name) didn't like that idea. Musk also said he expects demand to exceed that of the Model 3 sedan, and given the strong market appetite for SUVs, it will likely be its best-selling model.

Really, this was Musk's thinking.

Not only has Tesla given no indication that it would produce the Model Y in Fremont (saying, on the contrary, that the crossover will probably be produced in Gigafactory 1 in the US), but the news from last night is that the Model Y won't be produced until late next year. Most people have no idea you can now get a Tesla for $35,000.

Last night, at the grand unveiling of what's set to be the fourth auto in the automaker's electric line-up, Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to the Model Y as a "midsize SUV"; others, meanwhile, have argued that it's actually a compact SUV.

The vehicle also eschews keys, like the Model 3, and will connect to the driver's smartphone for entry and exit.

At a launch party in Los Angeles last night, Tesla revealed what could be its most important vehicle yet. These investments mean that Model Y will require roughly a billion more dollars for capital expenditures there, which won't offer any further efficiencies unless Tesla decides to shift Model 3 production there or build yet another variant of its underpinnings in Nevada.

The all-electric, mid-size SUV will start at $39,000 for the standard range version, which the company said can go 230 miles (370 kilometers) on a single charge.

The metric there is "Cd" or coefficient of drag. It has now reneged and will keep its brick and mortar stores open, with the price of all its models except the Model 3 increasing by around 3 percent. Unfortunately, the Model-Y does not feature Tesla's trademark Falcon doors, as the system is too expensive and complex to integrate into a vehicle expected to increase the company's market share.

The second Model-Y variant is the Long Range Rear Wheel Drive, which has a $49,000 price tag.

There will be all-wheel drive and extended range options, topping out with a Performance model offering 298 miles and a 0-60mph time of 3.5 seconds, with a dual motor arrangement driving the front and rear wheels.

It has seven seats and features a panoramic glass roof and a 15-inch (38-centimeter) touchscreen interface for accessing all the car's controls. Look for the Performance trim to launch in the fall of 2020.

Chief Executive Elon Musk said the compact SUV, built on the same platform as the Model 3, would first debut in a long-range version with a range of 300 miles (482 km) priced at $47,000. It'll sticker for $52,200.

Like every new Tesla, the Model Y does at least come equipped with a full suite of sensors and cameras that Tesla says will eventually be capable of autonomous driving.

Finally, the 0-60 miles per hour times - something Tesla is always particularly proud of - are similar on the two cars, with the smaller and lighter Model 3 accelerating slightly more quickly. It'll sticker for $40,200 including destination and delivery charges. Even when the Tesla pickup arrives, it may well focus more on consumer-friendly features than a vision of off-road ruggedness inspired by decades of internal-combustion trucks.

The more affordable Model Y will be produced some months later, hopefully not echoing the lag and drama over the $35k Model 3 Standard Range.

Tesla has a mission: "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy". I was just too cool to scream.

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