Innovation

Tesla Model Y: price, specs and battery range for the compact SUV

The Tesla Model Y is here, and it could see record sales figures. The company's compact SUV was originally expected to start shipping toward the end of this year, but Tesla gradually pushed the date up the calendar. Excited fans started receiving their delivery confirmations in February 2020.

With Tesla aiming to produce around one million Model Ys per year, it’s perhaps little surprise that Tesla is pushing to get the Model Y out fast – even amid a coronavirus pandemic that IHS Market predicts will impact the electric vehicle market.

It's also unlikely to be a make-or-break moment for the company in the same way. During the company's April 2020 earnings call, Musk revealed the Model Y was profitable in its first quarter of production, the first time any of Tesla's products have achieved the same feat.

“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,” CEO Elon Musk said during the October 2019 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. The Long Range all-wheel-drive version offers a top speed of 135 mph, acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and a range of 316 miles per charge. The Performance model loses a mile of range, but trades it for a top speed of 145 mph and 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. This increases to 155 mph with the Performance upgrade package, while also dropping the range to just 280 miles.

The Model Y also packs 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 also features a number of under-the-hood changes. This includes a heat pump to more efficiently distribute warmth around the car, reducing the strain on the battery in winter months. During the company's April 2020 earnings call, Musk hinted that the team may even improve the manufacturing process with more changes.

“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. During the March 2019 unveiling, the entry-level version of the car was listed starting at $39,000 — just $4,000 more than the base Model 3.

Specs for the Tesla Model Y lineupTesla

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

Here’s what you need to know.

When will Tesla Model Y be released?

The company started shipping the Performance and Long Range version of the vehicles in March 2020. The Standard Range version of the car is expected to start shipping in 2021 at an as-yet-undetermined date. The Giga Shanghai facility is also expected to start producing Model Ys for the China market in 2021.

How much does Tesla Model Y cost?

Again, it depends on the model.

  • The standard range model is expected to cost $39,000.
  • The dual-motor all-wheel-drive model starts at $52,990.
  • The performance edition starts at $60,990.

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 comes with the following battery ranges:

  • Dual Motor all-wheel drive: 316 miles
  • Performance: 315 miles
  • Performance with upgrades package: 280 miles

This compares favorably to Tesla’s other vehicles. The Model 3 offers between 250 and 322 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. Unfortunately, the third row that adds an extra two seats is not expected to start shipping until 2021, available as a $3,000 optional extra.

The third row seats folded down.Tesla

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. The factory handed over the first vehicles to consumers in January 2020.

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 hyping up the vehicle more and more. During the company’s earnings call in May 2019, 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.

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