2020 Tesla Model Y: Latest price, range, specs for new crossover SUV

Teaser for Tesla Model Y electric SUV due for reveal in 2019

The 2020 Tesla Model Y has the potential to amount to an even greater sales success than the Model 3, as it borrows some of the same underpinnings of that sedan and marries it to what so many American families today want: a crossover utility vehicle shape.

The California carmaker may have been prescient in seeing a sweet spot for electric vehicles, but the Model Y corrects a mistake made by Tesla (along with some full-line automakers) years ago: It chose to prioritize sedans.

A meandering development trail

The Model Y, which has been teased in various ways since 2012, hasn’t been entirely the same project all along. Although the Model 3 (or Model E) was originally to be have a complementary crossover in the Model Y, the Model 3 was given the push to production.

Then in 2015, CEO Elon Musk hinted that the Model Y project was gaining complexity—that would have the same double-jointed “falcon wing” doors as the Model X. Musk deleted that tweet and later confirmed that the complex door arrangement won’t be used in the Model Y.

Over a couple of quarterly calls in 2017, Musk revealed that the executive team had brought him “back from the cliffs of insanity,” and that a new philosophy was being followed. It would have “maximum carryover,” from Model 3, he said, but the Model Y will migrate to a next-generation electrical architecture that will reduce the amount (and weight) of wiring and at last purge 12-volt systems, which Musk said were “wrong for everything.”

Production specs

After some level of apparent compromise, the Model 3 and Model Y end up sharing a lot—about 75 percent of their parts, as opposed to around 30 percent for Model S and Model X.

Expect the Model 3 to have about the same footprint as the Model 3, which is about 185 inches long and 76 inches wide, on a 113-inch wheelbase. But as a crossover SUV, the Model Y will add several inches of overall height, with some combination of a higher roof and greater ground clearance likely.

Musk recently tweeted that the Model Y would be ten percent bigger. There have been conflicting reports from credible sources about whether or not the Model Y will include a third row, so that may be reserved for some market versions, or for a later rollout.

Teaser for Tesla Model Y electric SUV due for reveal in 2019

Design teases have suggested that the Model Y will have the same very low/steep front hoodline, so we’re eager to see how that makes the translation to the crossover realm.

We’re still not sure if the Model Y gets that completely different electrical backbone. Like the Model 3, the Model Y will be built on Tesla’s third vehicle architecture, which isn’t as aluminum-intensive as the Model S and Model X underpinnings. It’s expected to use the same motors as the Model 3 (permanent-magnet in back, induction in front), and the same Panasonic 2170-format cells, produced at the Nevada Gigafactory.

Battery and range

The Model Y is expected to have the same battery packs and power systems as the Model 3—which would place its three battery levels at about 50 kwh for the Standard Range, about 62 kwh for the Mid Range, and about 75 kwh for the Long Range. It should be noted that Tesla does not release official battery capacity numbers.

Using today’s rated range for the Model 3 of 220 miles to 325 miles and Musk’s comment about a 10-percent drop for the Y (it’s likely heavier and has more aerodynamic drag), we might guess that the Model 3 might offer around 200 miles in base Standard Range form, up to around 300 miles in top Dual Motor Long Range models.

Production

Tesla hasn’t yet made any declaration about where Model Y will be made for the U.S., although in financial updates the company was due to have made that decision by the end of 2018. The Nevada Gigafactory facility is the most likely possibility,

Tesla has also been a little bit clever about keeping some possibilities open, in saying that production of higher-cost versions of Model 3 and Model Y will remain in the U.S. The only place Tesla has firmly ruled out for Model Y production (as recently as last year) is the carmakers overstretched Fremont, California, plant where

Pricing

A recent tweet suggests that the Model Y will cost about 10 percent more, with slightly less range from the same battery. From that, with today’s Model 3 prices, we can expect that the Model Y might land in a place that some might see as a better value on a crossover. The Model Y to start at $39,700 (including today’s $1,200 destination and documents fee) up to well over $70,000 for top versions. Musk has promised “detailed specs & pricing” at the March 14 event, so expect more than just a base-price tease.

Due date, and a changing market

Musk has given several indications that the Model Y remains on a trajectory for first deliveries in mid-2020, so that’s when we expect it at this point and we’ll update this as soon as Tesla provides a timeline.

If Tesla can’t keep to that timeline—in its initial launch, or its production ramp—it could have a harder time measuring up to Model 3 due to increased competition via anticipated vehicles from Ford, Volvo, and Nissan, among others, that will fit into this same size and price category.

The Model Y will also be the first all-new model from Tesla to be sold under its newly adopted online-only sales strategy. Since the stores have been hubs for showing how its Supercharger network, home energy, and the whole “ecosystem” fits together, expect marketing—and the way in which you reserve and buy—to change extensively between now and then.

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