Fresh Look

Tesla Model Y redesign: price, release date, specs, and battery range for the 2021 model

Tesla's compact SUV, aimed at the budget market, is getting some changes. Here's what's in store.

The Tesla Model Y is getting a new release, and it could bring the car to more buyers than ever before.

During last month’s second-quarter 2021 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that a “new design” of the compact SUV would reach consumers later this year. The release is the biggest change to the Model Y since it first hit roads in March 2020.

The car represents part of Tesla’s strategy to bring electric vehicles to the mass market. This three-part plan, first outlined in 2016, started with the Model 3 compact sedan in 2017. It continued with the Model Y, and it’s set to conclude with the Cybertruck likely in 2022. All three vehicles are much cheaper than their Model S and Model X predecessors, and Tesla is producing them faster.

Want to know more about Musk’s plans for the Cybertruck, the state of battery production at Tesla, and what comes next? Read the full transcript for Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call, only in MUSK READS+.

In 2018, Musk explained that demand for the Model Y could be “maybe 50 percent higher than Model 3, could be even double,” as the midsize SUV is the world’s best-selling class of vehicle. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the new Tesla Model Y, from release date and price to new features and upgraded specs.

Tesla Model Y redesign new features

There are two major changes to the Model Y with this new release:

1. A cast front and rear body — This means that the Model Y’s front and rear will both be made out of a single component each.

Current Model Y vehicles produced at the firm’s California facility are built with a cast rear body. This process is done using what’s called a “Giga Press,” a giant machine built by Italy-based Idra Group that provides a force of between 5,500 tons and 6,200 tons. The process reduces 70 components of the rear end down to just one.

The firm now plans to use this same technique for the front of the vehicle. That process will take place at currently under-construction factories in Texas and Berlin.

2. New 4680 battery cells — These cells were unveiled at the September 2020 Battery Day. They contain several improvements that result in a 56 percent reduction in price per kilowatt-hour and a 54 percent increase in battery range between charges.

The new cell packs can form part of the car’s structure, referred to as a “structural pack.” This means 370 fewer components per car and a 10 percent lighter mass.

Tesla has never used these cells in a production car. Musk explained during the call that it has a “backup plan” to use more traditional cells if it doesn’t work.

Big changes afoot: the Tesla Model Y.Tesla

What’s the Tesla Model Y redesign battery range?

The new Model Y is expected to replace the older 2170 cells with 4680 cells. Tesla claims these new cells offer a 54 percent increase in battery range.

Tesla has yet to reveal the battery range for the new vehicles. The current Model Y Long Range offers an EPA-estimated range of 326 miles between charges. A 54 percent increase would result in a range of 502 miles.

There are many reasons why the range of the final vehicle could differ. Tesla may use smaller batteries to reduce costs, offer larger batteries to boost range further, or it could find that the “54 percent” figure doesn’t quite map perfectly onto the new Model Y.

What’s the Tesla Model Y redesign release date?

During the company’s second-quarter 2021 earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the new design of the Model Y would be in “limited production” at both Giga Texas and Giga Berlin “later this year.”

Musk went on to explain the difficulty of producing lots of cars at speed:

“It's hard to sort of explain to people who have not been through the agony of a manufacturing ramp. Like, why can't you just turn it on and make, you know, 5,000 a week? It is so hard to do manufacturing, it is so hard to do production. First approximation, there are 10,000 unique parts and processes that have to work. And the rate of growth of production goes as fast as the least lucky and dumbest of those 10,000 things. And a bunch of them are not even in our control. So it's insanely difficult. I'm fond of saying that prototypes are easy, and production is hard.”

That means, while some buyers will receive their cars this year, it could take a while for the new model to reach the majority.

This reiterates Musk’s post in April 2021, where he claimed that mass production would begin in 2022:

For comparison, Tesla’s Model 3 compact sedan first entered production in July 2017 with plans to reach 5,000 cars per week by December 2017. It instead reached this goal in the summer of 2018, following what Musk described as “production hell.”

What’s the Tesla Model Y redesign price?

Pricing is unconfirmed at this time.

The current pricing shows how Tesla is targeting a lower end of the market than its Model X SUV — but still costs a pretty penny.

  • At the moment, the Tesla Model Y Long Range is available for $53,990 before savings. This offers an EPA-estimated 326 miles of range, a top speed of 135 mph, and a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 4.8 seconds.
  • The Tesla Model Y Performance is available for $60,990 before savings. This has an EPA-estimated range of 303 miles, a top speed of 155 mph, and a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 3.5 seconds.

Could European buyers see a further price drop once the Giga Berlin factory opens? While Tesla operates an assembly plant in the Netherlands, this will be the first time that Tesla has manufactured cars in Europe itself.

A price drop for Europe is possible, especially as Tesla is opening the factory to reduce complexity in production. Musk’s stated goal is to make cars closer to buyers to make them easier to build and deliver.

Days before Tesla handed over the first China-made Model 3 vehicles at its new Shanghai facility in January 2020, it reduced the starting price of China-made Model 3 cars by nine percent. The pre-subsidy price dropped from 355,800 yuan ($55,040) to 323,800 yuan ($50,090).

Whether Tesla makes a similar move for Europe remains to be seen.

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