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Tesla Model Y prototype spotted testing in the California mountains

The eYe of the Storm

Amateur video footage of Tesla testing the upcoming Model Y has surfaced online. The hotly anticipated electric crossover made its debut in 2019, and it’s tentatively due out during the first half of 2020.

Christopher Radoff sighted the Model Y traveling over the Sierra Nevada’s Donner Summit on I-80. It looks like it’s making good progress in a blizzard, which suggests it’s a variant with dual-motor all-wheel drive, as it fittingly passes a tanker truck. The short video confirms the Model Y has changed little since its unveiling. There’s no word on who is driving, or precisely what’s being tested, but automakers routinely put new models through their paces.

Launching the Model Y should be far easier than bringing the Model 3 to the market, because the two models are closely related. Tesla explained the crossover shares about 75% of its parts with its lower sibling, including powertrain components and nearly everything inside. It’s essentially a bigger, more spacious 3.

Tesla has a lot riding on the Model Y. It’s not unrealistic to predict it will become the company’s bestselling model, because it will compete in a segment of the market experiencing healthy growth. This is a double-edged sword; while Tesla’s previous cars have enjoyed relatively little competition, its rivals are quickly catching up.

The Model Y’s fiercest competition will come from Ford, somewhat surprisingly. The Mustang Mach-E unveiled in late 2019 will land in the same segment and it will sell at a similar price point. The production variant of Audi’s Q4 E-Tron concept will offer buyers with about $40,000 to spend on an electric crossover a German-flavored alternative, while the Fisker Ocean introduced during CES 2020 will try to lure commuters with a cool California Mode that mimics the convertible experience.

Tesla looks set to beat its rivals to the punch. It started taking reservations in 2019, and it expects to begin deliveries in summer 2020, though some analysts speculate the car will be ready earlier. Sold exclusively online, like all of the company’s models, the Model Y carries a base price of $39,000, but buyers waiting for the entry-level model will need to wait until 2021. The long-range, all-wheel drive, and Performance versions priced at $47,000, $51,000, and $60,000, respectively, will enter production first, a strategy Tesla has successfully used in the past.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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