Tesla reveals seven-seat Model Y with 480km range

by Tom Morgan, Autocar UK 16 Mar 2019


Tesla has officially revealed its Model Y compact SUV, which is set to arrive in 2020.

The company’s fourth mainstream model was unveiled at its Los Angeles design centre by CEO Elon Musk, who confirmed the electric SUV would have a range of around 300 miles / 480 kilometres in its highest specification.

The Model Y takes design cues from both the Model 3 saloon and Model X large SUV, with a glass panoramic roof and optional seven-seat layout. It doesn't retain the gullwing doors found on the more expensive Model X, instead using pillarless doors like the Model 3 and Model S.

The crossover is around 10% larger than the Model 3, with which it shares a plactform and as much as 75% of components, making it close to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC in size. Musk said the Model Y had “the functionality of an SUV but rides like a sports car”, with a low centre of gravity and drag coefficient of 0.23Cd.

The first versions to arrive will be the Long Range, Dual Motor and Performance models, due in the autumn of 2020. The car is likely to arrive in the UK by 2022, based on previous Tesla model roll-outs globally.

The Long Range model will get 300 miles / 480 kilometres of range, a 130mph/208kph top speed and 5.5sec 0-100kph time, and it will be priced from $47,000 (around £35,500). The Dual Motor will start from $51,000 (£38,500) and have a slightly lower range of 280 miles/448km, a higher top speed, of 135mph/216kph, and a 4.8sec 0-100kph time.

The Performance model also gets 280 miles/448km of range but increases top speed to 150mph/240kph and drops the 0-100kph sprint time to 3.5sec. It will go on sale for $60,000 around (£45,000).

A Standard Range version will follow later in Spring 2021 for $39,000 (roughly £26,000) with a 230-mile range, a 120mph/192kph top speed and a 5.9sec 0-100kph time.

The Model Y is compatible with Tesla’s third-generation Superchargers, which are capable of 250kW charging. Cars will be able to recover 75 miles/120 kilometres of range in five minutes. Tesla now has more than 12,000 Superchargers globally across 36 countries.

Inside, the Model Y has a similar interior layout to the Model 3, with a single 15.0-inch touchscreen interface containing all of the car’s controls and no traditional instrument cluster. It also includes the same self-driving hardware, including Autopilot, which can be unlocked for a fee and upgraded wirelessly as new features get approval from regulatory bodies.

Split-folding second-row seats and a front boot provide a maximum storage space of 1869 litres. A rear hatchback should prove more convenient for loading than the Model 3's tailgate.

Tesla has yet to confirm where the Model Y will be produced, with latest reports suggesting it could be built at the company’s Gigafactory facility in Reno, Nevada, US. Model 3 production is understood to remain at the company’s Fremont, California manufacturing plant. Chinese cars are expected to be built in Tesla’s Shanghai factory, which is under construction and projected to be completed by the end of 2019.

The Model Y will likely prove pivotal to Tesla, because the worldwide demand for SUVs is significantly higher than it is for saloons. Musk predicted Tesla would go on to sell more Model Ys than its other three models combined. The company opened pre-orders after revealing the car, with customers asked for a $2500 deposit. Model Ys with seven seats won't be available until 2021.

The company also faces new challenges from European car makers including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which are gearing up to launch their own premium SUVs. Similarly priced rivals such as the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric offer less range. It recently announced a move to online-only sales and plans to close all its physical stores but changed its decision following customer and employee backlash.

The announcement of the Model Y arrives soon after the entry-level Model 3 went on sale in the US at $35,000 (£26,000) and the first left-hand-drive versions of the more expensive Model 3 Performance arrived in Europe.

Tesla will be hoping to avoid the manufacturing issues that plagued the Model 3, which bottlenecked production for months following the car’s North American launch. Tesla has since recovered from these early setbacks and is on course to achieve its factory target of 10,000 cars per week. It's now the world’s top-selling electric car, having sold more than 120,000 examples in the last year. Tesla aims to produce 2000 Model Ys per week by September 2020.

With the Model Y now revealed, Tesla’s remaining projects include the Semi lorry, a pick-up truck and the new Roadster, which is due to arrive on roads in 2020.