Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk revealed that tooling for the Model Y – which was previewed in 2016 - has been ordered, and that it will be the first Tesla built in the company’s so-called Gigafactory in Nevada.
In a first for a western car company, it will also be built in a new $800 million Tesla-owned plant currently being constructed in Shanghai, China. Previously, western car companies were obliged to partner with Chinese firms to build cars for that market.
By the time the Model Y drops, though, it’ll face increasingly tough competition from more traditional car industry players like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Audi. More tellingly, the Model Y will have to compete with a plethora of cheaper rivals like Hyundai’s Kona EV, the Kia Niro and others.
The Model Y will be a mid-sized crossover SUV, and it’ll be based on the same platform as the Model 3. The company says the Model Y will share up to 76 per cent of its parts with the Model 3, but it’s unlikely to have the gullwing doors of the company’s larger Model X. By contrast, the Model S and Model X only share an estimated 30 per cent of their parts.
READ MORE Exclusive first drive of Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model Y specs
Details are scarce, but it’s fair to surmise that the Model Y will share the same five-seat arrangement as the Model 3, and will likely take the form of a five-door coupe-style crossover with greater ride height.
Its powertrains will likely be based on current Model 3 configurations as well, given the short timeline to get the Model Y into production. Expect a similar approach to its power pack rollout, with a Standard version offering around 350km of range from a single rear-mounted electric motor and 50kWh battery kicking off the range, while a Mid Range model with a larger 62kWh battery stretches that claimed range to 499km.
Long Range and Performance variants of the Model 3 currently offer 75kWh battery packs and motors on both axles, and the Model Y will likely follow suit. Loose terrain drive modes may be added to differentiate the Model Y from the 3, but no specs or details have been released.
Model 3 deliveries still unconfirmed beyond ‘2019’
Meanwhile, prospective Model 3 owners may still have some time to wait for their long-awaited cars – and it’s still not even possible to order a Model 3 through the Australian version of Tesla’s website.
A refundable $1500 ‘reservation fee’ can be paid to get onto the queue – but with original reservations dating back to 2016, Elon Musk’s vaguely worded tweet last year that right-hand-drive deliveries would begin "around mid 2019" contrasts with the information on the company’s own site that deliveries will occur ‘in 2019’.
Tesla’s Australian office has been contacted for comment.