The Model X has been Tesla’s flagship SUV for a while now. However, its high-performance specs have not been enough to convince the average consumer to cough up $84,000 to buy one. You see, few people buy an SUV for its impressive 0-60 acceleration time, off-roading capabilities, or top speed. To the average SUV driver, probably in an urban or suburban driving environment, these features, though impressive, aren’t always practical.
The Model 3 sedan, on the other hand, received a very positive welcome from both ordinary metropolitan drivers and car enthusiasts. It has gone ahead to sell over half a million units as of early 2020. Its ability to combine both performance and practicality is very appealing, which has led to it becoming the top-selling mass-production plug-in electric car of all time.
After seeing the results of both cars, Tesla, Inc. probably thought it would be a good idea to combine the best of both models into a new model. A hybrid of the two would therefore be an affordable, practical, yet high-performance SUV. Enter the Tesla Model Y.
Announcement and Release of Tesla Model Y
Tesla founder and CEO, Elon Musk, initially unveiled the Tesla Model Y on March 15th, 2019. The only clear details at that point were that it would be an affordable SUV that maintained some luxury and performance features on its spec-sheet. It was clear to consumers that the Model Y was a fusion of the Tesla Model X and Model 3.
Early deliveries were expected by drivers to ship out in early 2020. Unlike other Tesla models, the delivery dates were not too far from the initially advertised early release delivery dates, and so, as expected, shipping started in March 2020. These early versions of the Model Y were only open to pre-order customers and high-value clients like car and tech reviewers.
Thanks to car and tech reviewers like Marquez Brownlee, the famous YouTube tech vlogger, we were able to catch a glimpse at the early release Model Y. For better or for worse, the mass-produced version is often significantly different from the early release one. This is because Tesla takes note of all the reviews on the early release and makes the necessary adjustments. This genius strategy allows them to delay the public release if there’s a major problem in the car that needs to be addressed.
Our first look at the Model Y proves that it’s a Model 3, Model X hybrid. From the front, the Model Y is almost indistinguishable from the Model 3, despite a small height difference. If you were to look at the car from a significant distance in a parking lot, you’d most definitely mistake it for Model 3. Looking at it from the side, however, you can see how different the silhouette is from that of Model 3. Apart from the longer wheelbase, the shape is definitely that of an SUV, reminiscent of the BMW X6.
The interior is almost identical to the Model 3. On closer inspection, however, you can spot a few differences. For example, it has absolutely no buttons on the dashboard. The driver’s only form of interaction with the car’s interior features includes adjusting the direction of the AC vents and controlling the wipers. Other minute adjustments are all on the 17″ touchscreen control.
Impressive Specs and Price
The Tesla Model Y comes in three different versions to suit the needs of different drivers.
- The long-range AWD version.
- The performance AWD version.
- The long-range RWD version.
The long-range AWD can last up to 316 miles on paper, which is not very different from the 315 miles on the performance version. The battery capacity on the Rear Wheel Drive version is still a mystery, but it is expected to be in the same territory as, or outshine, the other two.
The battery is, of course, not the most impressive feature on the Model Y, considering that the Model X beats it by over 30 miles. The exciting feature, if I may call it so, is the price. The RWD long-range is currently listed at $51,000 and goes up to $60,000 for the performance RWD. All this for a fully-autonomous car. Pretty good, if you ask me.
Self-Drive and Seven Seat Capacity
We are expecting the average Model Y to be a seven-seater with foldable rear seats for more cargo space. This makes it the first Tesla to have such roomy passenger capacity. As a result, it is also longer and wider than the Model X. The official release, expected in early 2021, will also have all the necessary hardware for fully-autonomous driving. So, whether Tesla will release the optimized software a year or a decade from now, the Model Y will only require a software update to actualize full autopilot.
The Tesla Model Y is a breath of fresh air to the automobile industry. It will, nonetheless, need to prove itself against competitors like the ipace from Jaguar. A fusion of performance, luxury, and cost-effectiveness is a huge mass appeal, but only time will tell if the Model Y will live up to its promise.