Elon Musk unveiled Tesla’s new Model Y compact SUV Thursday night, ahead of a fall 2020 release, according to The Verge.
As Tesla’s second mass-market electric vehicle, the Model Y offers specifications similar to the Model 3, which was unveiled three years ago. The long-range model has a 300-mile range and a $47,000-dollar price tag. In 2021, the standard range version will hit the market, with a 230-mile range, for a more affordable $39,000.
The company will also release a dual-motor, all-wheel drive model for $51,000, and a high-performance model for $60,000 next year. The performance version will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds.
The Model Y will eventually seat seven, but models with the third row of seating won’t be available until 2021.
Compact SUVs account for almost half of the new car market in the US, and over half of new vehicles purchased last year for between $30,000 to $50,000 were SUVs. The Model Y is expected to be key to Tesla’s effort to deliver one million cars by 2020.
At the unveiling, Musk praised both the car’s performance and safety ratings, saying the Model Y “will be the safest mid-sized SUV by far,” with 5-star crash ratings expected.
“It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car,” according to Musk.
Musk also said software upgrades will eventually make the Model Y fully self-driving, although experts have argued Tesla’s Autopilot assistance system falls far short of fully autonomous driving.
Musk has said that the push to mass-produce the Model 3 put Tesla within just a few weeks of financial ruin. The Model Y, which draws heavily on the design of the Model 3, should offer Tesla a chance to recover from those efforts. As its first offering in the popular compact SUV market, it could give the company room to grow following speculation that it may have exhausted the US market for the Model 3.
But according to The Verge, the unveiling drew less excitement than that of the Model 3, since so many features were already seen three years earlier. For the most part, the Model Y is a roomier version of the Model 3. And while the SUV market could offer new ground for Tesla in the US, it’s also highly competitive, with some German manufacturers already selling electric SUVs.
Many observers were underwhelmed, and Tesla shares opened down 5 percent on Friday, following Musk’s announcement. It remains to be seen whether customers will be more impressed with the Model Y than insiders and analysts.
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