The Tesla Model Y may be pretty far out for Elon Musk and co, but the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is already making big, big plans for his fifth production vehicle.
During the 2017 shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Musk announced that the Tesla Model Y would be “hit the roads” sometime in 2019, and that the company would need to build an entirely new production plant or Gigafactory of its own. The Tesla Model Y will be a low-cost SUV, the counterpart to the affordable sedan Model 3 as the luxury Model X is to the luxury Model S.
“I’m really excited about Model Y,” Musk said. “We’re aiming for that to hit the roads in 2019 approximately.”
Musk also explained why Tesla is taking a slightly different tack for the Model Y than it did for the Model X.
“I think we really made a mistake in trying to derive the design for the Model X from the Model S platform,” Musk said. “It would have been better just design an SUV the way an SUV should be designed, design a sedan the way a sedan should be designed, otherwise you’re just trying to shoehorn something in that doesn’t make sense.”
The peculiarities of the Model X’s design, like the gull-wing doors, and the company’s own “hubris” led to widespread delivery delays for the company at the end of 2015, which Musk is definitely trying to avoid. In fact, he’s said previously that he wants the Model Y’s factory to be the fastest on earth, an especially Elon-y statement that he might actually need to back up, as he said the company expects demand for the Model Y to actually surpass the massive demand for the upcoming Model 3.
Essentially, the Model 3 is the test run for mass-market Tesla vehicles that Musk hopes to have perfected by the time the Model Y comes around in a few years. He said he hopes he can cut capital expenditures — how much money the company spends developing and making the car — by a “factor of two.”
“There are a number of really major manufacturing improvements that can be done that will allow us to build a car in a way that a car has never been built before,” Musk said.
The key to all of this is the Gigafactory, of course, which Tesla thinks will eventually become more important than the cars and batteries it produces. Right now, Musk said Tesla’s Fremont factory is “bursting at the seams,” and will force the company to branch out significantly to new Gigafactories, one of which will assumedly specialize in the Model Y. “There’s no way we could do Model Y at Fremont, so it’s going to have to be somewhere else,” Musk said.
Musk didn’t give away much more about the mysterious vehicle, but he did drop a hint that there might be some big news at the late-September unveiling of the Tesla Semi Truck.
“There’s a few other things I haven’t mentioned here,” he said, smiling slightly. “I really recommend showing up for the semi truck unveiling, maybe there’s a little more than we’re saying here.”