Tesla CEO Elon Musk finished spelling out an all-electric acronym by lifting the veil on the Model Y, a crossover SUV that’s due to hit the market in the fall of 2020.
“We are bringing ‘sexy’ back, quite literally,” he told hundreds of Tesla fans who gathered for the Hollywood-style unveiling at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.
Musk didn’t quite literally lift a veil to reveal the new model. Instead, he built up the suspense by giving an “extended history lesson” about Tesla’s decade-long history of vehicle production, starting with the Tesla Roadster and moving on to the Model S, Model X, Model 3, the Semi truck and the remade Roadster.
Along the way, Musk explained the ins and outs of his naming convention, including the fact that he couldn’t use the name “Model E” because Ford had it trademarked.
“Ford killed SEX,” Musk joked.
As he described the vehicles, each model was driven into the spotlight. Finally it was the Model Y’s turn. Cheers and whoops went up from the crowd as a shiny blue car pulled into its place alongside the Model S, 3, X. Y completed the acronym.
The car looks as much like the Model 3 as Tesla’s Model X SUV looks like the Model S sedan. The similarities between the designs are intentional, because that commonality is expected to speed development — thus avoiding the “production hell” that marked the Model 3’s birth.
Musk laid out the basic statistics for four variants of the Model Y: The Standard Range model will be the cheapest, carrying a price tag of $39,000 and offering a maximum range of 230 miles and top speed of 120 mph. The $60,000 Performance model will be the most expensive variant, with a 280-mile range and a 150 mph top speed. The $47,000 Long Range model is projected to go 300 miles on a charge, while the Dual Motor AWD version prices out at $51,000.
Tesla says the three more expensive versions will be ready for delivery in the fall of 2020, while the Standard Range model will go on the market in the spring of 2021. Orders are already being taken online.
All four variants will have a panoramic glass roof, 66 cubic feet of interior space and can seat up to seven, Musk said.
“It has the functionality of an SUV but it will ride like a sports car,” he said.
Some analysts wonder whether the promise of the Model Y will hurt sales of the Model 3, as buyers decide to wait for the newer model. Musk insisted that Model 3 sales would rise dramatically over the next year, making the sorts of optimistic projections that got him in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission when he put them in a tweet.
“We’ve made 550,000 vehicles, something like that,” he said. “Twelve months from now, we will have made about a million vehicles.”
Musk was even more optimistic about Model Y sales.
“I’m confident that of any midsize SUV, it’ll be the one you want,” he said. “I think it’ll probably sell … I think we’ll probably do more Model Y’s than S, X and 3 combined, most likely. So there you have the S3XY presentation.”
On other topics:
- Musk said ramping up production of the Model 3 and dealing with controversies ranging from a securities fraud case to a marijuana brouhaha made for a rough year. “2018 felt like aging five years in one,” he said.
- He indicated that battery production for the Model 3 has stabilized to the point that Tesla can start ramping up production of electricity-generating solar roof tiles and Powerwall home-battery installations. “This is definitely going to be the year of the solar roof and the Powerwall,” Musk said.
- Referring to one of his other day jobs as CEO at SpaceX, Musk half-jokingly said “we will be driving a Tesla on Mars” in 10 years. “I think we actually could.”