Production of the Tesla Model Y is planned to begin in November 2019 at the American company's plant in Fremont, California, new reports have suggested.
According to unnamed sources quoted by Reuters, production of the Model Y will then begin in China from 2021.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is reportedly evaluating applications from companies bidding for a Model Y parts supply contract. He is likely to be doing this even more carefully than usual, given the recent parts supply issues that caused a backlog for production of the Model 3.
Musk has since said that Tesla is working at full steam to clear the delays, pushing to hit targets for 5000 cars per week, or 260,000 a year. But Tesla will want to be doubly sure the backlogs are clear and production pace picks up well before it introduces the Model Y.
Based on the underpinnings of the Model 3, the Model Y will be a small SUV and, judging by preview images, have a more striking design than its stablemates. A new preview picture released by Tesla (above) shows a car with no door mirrors.
Although current laws require mirrors to be fitted, these could be revised to allow the use of cameras and internally mounted displays as an alternative before the Model Y hits the roads.
The Model Y will come with a significantly more advanced supercomputer than current Tesla models, and this is expected to advance Tesla's current Autopilot technology by some margin. Currently, the system can control the car's steering, accelerator and brakes in certain scenarios.
Following the Model Y, Tesla plans to produce a pick-up truck, a cargo van and a minibus, all based on the platform of the Model X SUV.
Tesla's launching of commercial vehicles will come as part of its Master Plan, Part Deux, a strategy that also outlines ambitions to take the lead with autonomous technology and transform the public transport sector. It was published in 2016, ten years after Tesla's original Master Plan, which previewed the subsequent launches of the Model S, Model X and Model 3, as well as its solar power products.
The Tesla Semi lorry, which was revealed last year and is available for pre-order in the US priced from $150,000 (currently equivalent to around Rs 97 lakh), emphasises the brand's ever-expanding reach into new sectors.
Musk also envisions a car-sharing platform to better utilise passenger-carrying potential in cars that would otherwise be sat outside owners’ homes for the majority of the time. Once self-driving cars are approved by regulators, they could be summoned from anywhere.
“Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not,” said Musk.