The next addition to Elon Musk’s electric vehicle fleet may have taken a big step closer to going from idea to reality. A new rumor says the Model Y, Tesla’s planned mid-range crossover utility vehicle, is set to begin production on March 1, 2020.
Automotive journalist and Daily Kanban editor E.W. Niedermeyer tweeted Tuesday he had received a tip from a parts supplier that Tesla had begun sending out designs and specifications to get quotes for the Model Y. The 2020 start date for production was part of the information this supplier had reportedly received.
Like most Tesla offerings, a 2020 start would mean the Model Y will come a bit later than Musk’s initial timeline. In a shareholders meeting last June, Musk had indicated the crossover vehicle would hit roads sometime in 2019.
The Model Y fills in the obvious missing piece in Tesla’s offerings: You can think of it either as the mid-range version of the Model X luxury SUV, or the more SUV-like equivalent of the fellow relative budget option, the Model 3. While plans could change, the most recent news indicates the car owes more to the Model 3, as Musk said in an earnings call with investors last July that the Model Y will be built on that car’s architecture.
“I think in a prior call, we publicly had said that Model Y, or our compact SUV – it’s called Model Y — it may or may not be, would be a totally new architecture,” he said. “Upon the council of my executive team – thank you, thanks, guys – who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity, much appreciated – the Model Y will in fact be using a substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring [it to] market faster.”
With the possible exception of Tesla’s Semi truck, the Model Y could represent Musk’s best chance to win his recently revealed 10-year bet on himself, in which he must grow the company’s market cap from $50 billion to $650 billion by 2028 in order to get paid his full salary. An affordably priced crossover is likely the most appealing car Tesla can bring to the market, as Musk observed on the July earnings call.
“People prefer an SUV,” he said. “And in fact, the SUV market is larger. It’s the biggest single product I believe in the world.”
The much-documented production issues with the Model 3 mean we don’t yet really know what appetite the driving public has for Tesla’s mid-range sedan, and the car’s production problems have reportedly affected consumer demand. Whether the Model Y can avoid its sibling’s pitfalls remains to be seen, and it may be in a little more than two years that we will start to get answers. And if March 2020 really is the target start date, we can likely expect a big Model Y reveal sometime in 2019.