Tesla plans to follow up the Model 3 with an SUV called the Model Y. Just as the Model 3 is a smaller counterpart to the Model S, the Model Y will be the little sibling to the Model X. Other than that, little has been known about Tesla’s second SUV.
Even though Tesla has now released its first teaser image of the Model Y, that’s still pretty much the case. Unveiled at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, the image depicts something vaguely the shape of a car, with no other discernible details. Expect Tesla to slowly dribble out details over the coming months in order to stoke anticipation for the Model Y.
The Model Y doesn’t appear to have any side-view mirrors, indicating that Tesla is again trying to push for cameras as an alternative. The original Model X concept had cameras instead of exterior mirrors, but Tesla couldn’t convince government regulators to make that setup legal. Eliminating mirrors would reduce aerodynamic drag, improving efficiency, but there is no indication that side-view cameras will be legalized anytime soon.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk originally said the Model Y would be based on an entirely new platform,and that the SUV would arrive in 2019 or 2020. But during Tesla’s quarterly earnings call, Musk said the Model Y would be based on the Model 3 platform, according to InsideEVs. That’s what most people originally expected.
Basing the Model Y on a separate platform would have been a risky move. Using the Model 3 platform will cut costs and increase profits, since Tesla can charge a premium for the Model Y over its sedan counterpart. Tesla needs to find a way to boost profits as it burns through cash on expensive projects like the Model 3 rollout. While the automaker’s stock prices show investors are willing to wait through more profit-less quarters, it’s unclear how long their patience will last.
Musk originally tried to justify using a different platform for the Model Y by saying that basing the Model X on the Model S platform was a mistake. He said using a sedan platform for the SUV led to unnecessary compromises, according to The Verge. Tesla has actually been criticized for making the Model X too different from the Model S, adding features like the famous “Falcon Doors” that made the SUV more complex to design and build. It also caused reliability issues.
One more thing: the Model Y might not actually be called the Model Y. Musk reportedly used the phrase “if it’s called the Model Y” during the earnings call, implying that the decision is still up in the air. Model Y would complete a long-running (and admittedly stale) joke by having the names of Tesla’s cars spell “S3XY.”
Updated: Added confirmation that the Model Y will be based on the Model 3, update on possible name change.
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