Elon Musk has revealed that the Tesla Model Y will arrive in early 2020, rescheduling initial plans to bring the next member of the Tesla line-up to market at some stage in 2019.
Revealed during a heated investor's earnings call during which the firm's record £523m loss set the tone, Musk stated that Model Y production would start around 24 months from now, confirming "2020 is a more likely prospect for Model Y."
The Model Y will be a new crossover from the Californian EV brand, sprouting upwards from the Model 3. It will be a crucial step in Tesla’s second ‘Master Plan’, which will see the company expand beyond its current line-up with a second-generation Roadster and commercial vehicle entries, including an all-electric pick-up and a full-sized Tesla Semi truck.
By doubling its SUV portfolio with the smaller, cheaper offering, Tesla is lining itself up to enter a booming marketplace. Alongside the Model 3, the Model Y will be an important step on the road towards the firm becoming a true volume vehicle manufacturer.
Details are still being ironed out, but Tesla is more open than most regarding its future product plans. Chief executive Elon Musk is already talking candidly about the new car, and the firm has also hinted at the Model Y’s design through an official teaser image released last year.
Our exclusive image previews how the car could look when it arrives in 2020. If Tesla adopts a ‘Russian doll’ approach to the Model Y’s design, we expect it to mimic the Model X SUV’s form and function in a smaller package – maybe even down to the ‘Falcon wing’-style doors, which Musk has previously promised. Fresh design cues from the Model 3 such as the flat, grille-free front end could also define the new car.
Although the Model Y will sit underneath the Model X in Tesla’s range as its second and smallest SUV, it would make sense for the manufacturer to market the Model Y as a Model 3 crossover rather than a smaller Model X, especially when the latest news from Musk is taken into account.
Tesla has abandoned plans to develop the Model Y around a new dedicated electric platform, and it will now use the same underpinnings as the Model 3, Musk confirmed. This will allow the firm to bring the Model Y to market much sooner than was originally anticipated, and will also slash R&D costs. Musk has hinted at making tweaks to the platform to help further automate the production process.
Given a platform share with the Model 3 has now been confirmed, it’s extremely likely that drivetrains will be the same, too. Tesla has not officially confirmed battery pack sizes for the 220-mile Standard and 310-mile Long Range launch editions of the Model 3 but has already promised all-wheel-drive and performance variants.
However, the firm likes to shuffle its powertrain offerings around often and without warning, so however the Model 3 line-up looks in 2019, it is likely to be replicated by the first Model Ys.
Tesla electric minibus is also on the cards
Musk also revealed further details on the Tesla electric minibus, first alluded to by Musk at the Master Plan conference. Further Tweets stated that the new "high passenger density urban transport" vehicle is on the drawing board, and will be "built on a Model X chassis. He also claimed "people density potential is surprisingly high", so its likely we'd see something aiming to offer at least eight seats.
Given that the chassis already exists, its reasonable to assume that would appear by the end of next year at the latest. Expect the same electric drivetrains, including both two and four-wheel drive, a tablet-style portrait touchscreen on the dash and the autopilot autonomous driving system.