Right now, the Tesla Model Y is an enigma. We know it will be a compact SUV based on the Model 3’s chassis, but the company’s enigmatic CEO Elon Musk has kept many details about the vehicle under wraps. So far, it looks like the Model Y will do for the Model X what the Model 3 did for the Model S: provide a more affordable version of a highly popular vehicle, with a price tag more suited to the mass market (in a bit more compact package).
Musk first outlined the Model Y in the company’s second master plan alongside a pick-up truck. From here on out, the Model Y’s future all revolves around the Model 3, which it will use as a base for the car. The upcoming $35,000 Model 3 features many of the enhancements current Tesla owners have come to expect, like Autopilot driving, but lacks some of the more luxurious features like dual computer screens. Essentially, Musk is so sure about the Model 3’s positive reception that he’s building the company’s roadmap around the vehicle’s base.
Because of this, we can make a certain number of assumptions about the Model Y. It will support full self-driving mode, the cornerstone of the company’s current efforts. That means it will contain the same high-powered computer systems found in the Model 3, alongside the array of in-house sensors used for navigation. It’s also likely to have a price tag not too far from its Model 3 cousin.
Tesla is thinking big with the Model Y. The company’s total car production is expected to hit 500,000 per year by the end of 2018, but Musk is aiming bigger with the Y. In the August 2016 shareholder meeting, Musk said that the company is planning for demand around the Y to reach between 500,000 to one million cars per year. Considering the effort to finish the Gigafactory and increase production, it’s fair to say the Y represents Tesla’s next big challenge.
We’re not even sure what the car will look like, although several design firms have put out some pretty spot-on guesses. Check out this rendering from RMCarDesign.
Autocar gave us perhaps the best rendering of the Model Y yet.
It’s also going to mean the Tesla lineup will spell out something rather cheeky. Musk had to settle for the model lineup spelling out “S3X,” after Ford sued the company for trying to trademark the name “Model E.” With the Model Y, the names will spell out “S3XY.”
When will the Model Y launch? “In a few years” is the official word from Musk, but new Model Y news may arrive sooner rather than later. Ars Technica claims it direct messaged Elon Musk on Twitter, asking when we can expect to hear more about the Model Y. “Next week,” was the tantalizing reply from Tesla’s CEO.