Tesla Model Y SUV Debuts March 14: Here’s What We Know So Far

Tesla Model Y SUV Debuts March 14: Here’s What We Know So Far

The Tesla family is about to grow to a foursome. The Tesla Model Y SUV will be unveiled Thursday, March 14, at Tesla’s Design Studio in Los Angeles. This gives Tesla a high-sedan and SUV, a mid-priced sedan, and as of next week, a mid-priced SUV as well. Rather than issue a press release, Tesla CEO Elon Musk just fired off an 11-word tweet Sunday and let the word spread.

A little bigger than the Model 3 sedan, the Model Y SUV will likely sell for about $40,000 and up, with the emphasis as always on the “and up” part.

Model Y unveil event on March 14 at LA Design Studio

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2019

Musk also gave the barest of specifics: that everything will be about 10 percent more — size and price — or about 10 percent less — such as economy.

The Model 3 sedan is 185 inches long, 11 inches less than the Model S and 13 inches less than the Model X SUV. Passenger room in the Model 3 is 97 cubic feet, plus 15 for the trunk. It may be that the 10 percent size increase is a combination of a slightly longer vehicle and more cargo space that comes from an SUV versus a sedan. But if it ships with the smallest Model 3 battery pack, 50 kWh, it’s probably going to have a range under 200 miles. Tesla probably won’t want something that, ah, local. On the Model 3, it’s rated for 220 miles.

Either way, a vehicle in the 180s in length is considered a compact SUV, on the lines of a Toyota RAV4 or a BMW X3 Series. If the price starts in the high thirties and if the interior treatment is on par with the Model 3 sedan — Spartan once you’ve been in the Model S — the Model Y could end up looking more like a RAV4 LE or XLE than a Limited or Platinum, yet priced more along the lines of a BMW X3, which starts at $41,995.

Model Y, being an SUV, is about 10% bigger than Model 3, so will cost about 10% more & have slightly less range for same battery

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2019

Any new Tesla draws conjecture in advance of the announcement about the basic specs, the price, and also the options. We expect Tesla will continue to offer lots of options:

  • At least three battery configurations, some of which may be the same battery with a software unlock for more range.
  • A rear-drive system with one motor, or an all-wheel-drive system with motors front and rear.
  • Multiple cockpit configurations, the higher level trims being something that makes the vehicle play in the Audi-BMW-Lexus arena.
  • For sure the center stack LCD will be bigger than on most cars, but will it be portrait as on the Model S and Model X? Since Tesla came out with the monster Model S portrait display, the likes of Volvo and Ram pickup have gone portrait, and now it’s reaching the mainstream in the upcoming Subaru Legacy sedan. Possibly the display is bigger on the top trim lines.
  • If the Model 3 is a guide, there will be basic driver assists on the entry cars and Tesla AutoPilot on higher trim lines, with more features that can be unlocked.
Tesla Model Y SUV Debuts March 14: Here’s What We Know So Far

Since it’s an SUV, there may be modest trailer-tow capabilities, possibly 1,500 pounds or 2,000 pounds (Class 1), maybe 3,500 pounds (Class 3). A handful of compact SUVs can tow 3,500 or even 4,000 pounds.

In addition, keep an eye out for whether Tesla plays mainstream-automaker games with desirable but low-cost features that are tiered to make you think you need to get higher-end. For example, on the Model 3, three are three interior trim levels: Standard, Partial Premium (a weird descriptor) and Premium. It makes sense that higher trims have nicer audio. More speakers and more watts costs more. Every Tesla has onboard telematics. But only with the Premium interior does Tesla add a Wi-Fi repeater. And Tesla’s very cool location-aware automatic garage door opener, which appears on-screen only when you close to home, and that’s only a couple more lines of code and a simple RF transmitter? That, too, is limited to Premium Tesla Model 3s.

Tesla intenders are also going to wonder: Will reliability be on par with Tesla Model 3? Meaning, not good.

Meanwhile, more than a few people keep wondering about Tesla naming conventions: Model S, Model 3, Model X, not Model Y. And more than a few have noted, it spells S-3-X-Y.

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