Tesla Model Y: Price, Reveals Date and Specs for Mass Market Electric SUV

Tesla's car is part of a three-pronged strategy to enter the mass market.

Tesla’s mass market compact sport utility vehicle is almost here. In March, CEO Elon Musk unveiled the second part of the company’s three-part plan to bring electric cars to the mass market and usher in a new era of sustainable transport. It all sounds rather grandiose, but hit sales figures for the Model 3 sedan suggest there’s high demand for cheaper Tesla vehicles.

The Tesla Model Y, from a distance, looks a lot like its Model 3 cousin. Musk unveiled the car at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 14, 2019. The first models are set to launch in the fall of 2020. Top speed will reach as high as 150 mph, accelerations as low as 3.5 seconds, range as far as 300 miles, and it can fit seven adults with 66 cubic meters of space.

Alongside the surprise additions, the Model Y is expected to otherwise pack the semi-autonomous Autopilot system that has featured on other vehicles. This is expected to one day support full autonomous driving through a software and computer update. That could mean it serves as part of a robo-taxi fleet.

“It has the functionality of an SUV but it rides like a sports car,” Musk said at the unveiling. “We expect it’ll be the safest SUV in the world by far.”

It’s an impressive vehicle, and it’s competitive on the price side, starting at $39,000 — just $4,000 more than the base Model 3.

Specs for the Tesla Model Y lineup
Specs for the Tesla Model Y lineup

Following on from the success of the Model 3, the $35,000 car that launched in July 2017 as a cheaper version of the Model S, Tesla now aims to bring the cheaper sports utility vehicle to complete the lineup with “S-3-X-Y.”

The new Tesla Model Y image.
A second released Tesla Model Y image.

Musk describes the Model Y as part of a broader plan to reach the mass market alongside the Model 3 and pickup truck.

“We’re aiming to unveil the Model Y approximately March next year, and then go into production about two years from now,” Musk said at the company’s June 2018 annual shareholder meeting. “Maybe a little less than two years, but basically first half of 2020 for production of Model Y.”

Here’s what you need to know.

When Will Tesla Model Y Be Released?

That depends on the model!

  • Standard range deliveries are expected to start in the spring of 2021
  • Long range deliveries are expected to start in the fall of 2020
  • Dual-motor all-wheel-drive models are expected to roll out in the fall of 2020
  • Performance models will arrive in the fall of 2020

It could launch around the same time as the second-generation Roadster.

How much will Tesla Model Y cost?

Tesla is unlikely to undercut the Model 3, which currently sells for $46,000 and could reach as low as $35,000 when Tesla rolls out shorter-range versions. The Model X has a starting price of $79,500, and the company is likely to try and undercut that vehicle. That gives us a general estimate of a price somewhere between $79,500 and $35,000.

What Is the Battery Range for Tesla Model Y?

The Model Y will come with the following battery ranges:

  • Standard Range: 230 miles
  • Long Range: 300 miles
  • Dual Motor all-wheel drive: 280 miles
  • Performance: 280 miles

This compares favorably to Tesla’s other vehicles. The Model 3 offers between 220 and 310 miles of range depending on the price, meaning the other entry-level vehicle offers similar distances. The Model S recently set records by becoming the first production electric car to edge toward the 400-mile mark, a milestone it’s expected to cross sometime soon.

What Will Be the Tesla Model Y Seating Capacity?

The Tesla Model Y offers room for “up to seven adults” with an optional third row.

The third row seats folded down.
The third row seats folded down.

Impressively, Tesla has managed to find the space to fit an extra row in a car that only measures around 10 percent larger than a Model 3. It also means that it matches the much larger Model X in terms of the number of adult seats.

Whether those seats will actually be comfortable is for the eventual reviews to decide.

How Will the Tesla Model Y Be Manufactured?

Tesla plans to produce somewhere around one million Model Y vehicles per year, far more than the company’s total all-time deliveries in the United States alone. The company’s Chinese Gigafactory will play a big role in this: the 210-acre site in Lingang, a district in the south east of Shanghai, will produce 250,000 cars per year covering both Model 3 and Model Y. In a thank you message to Tesla fans, Musk suggested that construction of the Shanghai Gigafactory is set to start soon:

The company expects production to start two years after construction begins, placing a start date of somewhere around 2021. From there’ Musk expects it to take a further two to three years before it’s producing 500,000 cars per year.

One major issue that Tesla will be keen to avoid is the “production hell” that plagued the Model 3. A recent report revealed how Musk came to executives at the start of production and described an “alien dreadnought” factory, with robots seamlessly shifting parts at speed to fire out cars. Unfortunately, this highly-automated factory produced just over 200 cars in the last quarter of 2017 despite plans to produce 5,000 per week by December, and in April 2018 the company had radically shifted course to incorporate more humans in the process. Musk would later describe excessive automation as a “mistake” and humans as “underrated.”

What Has Elon Musk Said About Tesla Model Y?

Musk has been gradually hyping up the future vehicle more and more. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting, he described it as “something super special.” During the company’s earnings call in May, he described it as “a manufacturing revolution” compared to the Model 3.

“I’m pretty excited about how we’re designing Model Y, it’s really taking a lot of lessons learned from Model 3 and saying, ‘How do we design this thing to be easy to manufacture instead of difficult?’” he said during a February call.

BONUS: Learn what a Gigafactory is and how it will be instrumental to the production of the Model Y.