Tesla Model Y: price, specs and revised launch date for the compact SUV

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

The Tesla Model Y is coming, and it’s going to launch sooner than expected.

The compact SUV is expected to start deliveries in the summer of 2020. That’s according to CEO Elon Musk, who announced during Tesla’s third-quarter earnings call on October 23 that the company had moved the launch date from the original fall 2020 window.

With Tesla aiming to produce around one million Model Ys per year, it’s perhaps little surprise that Tesla may be gearing up to faster produce its mass-market vehicle. Musk explained that the launch window will be dictated by volume production, when the company can expect to produce more than 1,000 cars per week. Musk claimed the company will reach that point “no later than the middle of 2020.”

“I’ve actually recently driven the Model Y release candidate and think it’s going to be an amazing product and be very well received,” Musk said during the earnings call. “I think it’s quite likely to — just my opinion, but I think it will outsell Model S, Model X and Model 3 combined.”

Although the Model Y is designed to reach a broad range of consumers, Tesla isn’t holding back on the premium features. Top speeds are expected to reach 150 mph on the performance edition, with acceleration times to 60 mph from zero in just 3.5 seconds. Although it looks very similar to the Model 3 and only takes up 10 percent more space, the new vehicle will also pack a third row of seats to offer seven seats total.

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.”

The design might pack some unexpected surprises. During an October interview, Tesla’s head designer Franz von Holzhausen said that “I think what you saw in March is really true to the final design … [but] we made improvements on it to make it a better product.”

Here’s what you need to know.

When Will Tesla Model Y Be Released?

That depends on the model, but it seems the current launch window is set for the summer of 2020.

At the March unveiling, Tesla detailed the following rollout schedule:

  • 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

However, rumors in October suggested Tesla could start production sooner than expected. A report from CleanTechnica on October 15 claimed that Tesla is planning to start production as early as the first quarter of 2020. Model Y prototypes were spotted driving around California during the same time window.

Musk confirmed a revised launch window during the earnings call, while also suggesting the firm could revise the timing even further.

How much will Tesla Model Y cost?

Again, it depends on the model.

  • The standard range model will cost $39,000.
  • The long range model will cost $47,000.
  • The dual-motor all-wheel-drive model will cost $51,000.
  • The performance edition will come in at $60,000.

As the Tesla Model X starts at $84,000, the Model Y should offer a noticeable saving.

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.