Tesla Model Y: Industry Watchers Remain Cynical As Fans Gird Their Loins

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla model y industry watchers remain cynical as fans gird their loins

Perhaps to give journalists a taste of what it’s like to be a Tesla reservation holder, Tesla’s Model Y launch event, scheduled for 11 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, started late. When it did, CEO Elon Musk launched into a rundown of his company’s well-documented history.

There were a few admissions during his speech, including this telling statement:

“I really think the difficulty and value of manufacturing is underappreciated,” Musk said, echoing a sentiment hurled in his direction since the start of Model 3 production. “It’s relatively easy to make a prototype and extremely difficult to mass manufacture a vehicle reliably and at scale.”

Promises uttered by Musk during his preamble included building a million cars next year and taking the company to Mars in a decade.

Then it was time for the main event — one many found lacking. The compact Model Y crossover looks very much like the model on which it based. Sharing a host of kit with the Model 3, the Model Y could be mistaken for its sedan cousin at a distance, despite its dimensions being about 10 percent larger.

It’s very … sedan-like, though the liftback gives it away. There’s a body and ride lift, too (See Bozi Tatarevic’s helpful comparison below). Would you believe this thing can be had in a three-row variant? It’s true. And the third row is forward facing. Adults, and probably kids, will have to slouch.

Not sure if they are to scale but here is what each one looks like on the order screens. pic.twitter.com/5x9gGYfSGB

— Bozi Tatarevic (@hoonable) March 15, 2019

It’s five seats only for the base, rear-drive $39,000 version. Seven-passenger seating will cost you an extra $3,000. Range amounts to 230 miles in base trim, or 300 miles in the rear-drive, $47,000 Long Range version. Both of these prices are sans a $1,200 destination fee. As you probably expected, the pricier model sees the light of day first, with Musk claiming deliveries start in late 2020. The base version should trundle along “sometime” in 2021.

Keep in mind that a production site still isn’t officially locked down, and base Model 3 reservation holders are still waiting for their vehicles three years after the model’s launch.

Joining the Long Range model in the fall of 2020 are two money makers: a Dual Motor AWD model and a Performance variant, each with 280 miles of range. The former model is $51k before destination; the latter, $60k. If the Model 3 saga taught us anything, it’s that the cash inflow from higher-spec trims is required to offset a Standard Range model that may or may not be profitable.

Anyway, there’s numerous ways to add expense to your Model Y purchase. Adding Autopilot to either version is a $3,000 proposition, and Tesla’s “full self driving capability” promise package will warrant another $5,000. Lining up a Model Y requires a $2,500 deposit, meaning Tesla can expect a new cash stream starting last night.

While it’s assumed that Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory will eventually expand to accomodate Model Y production, no confirmation came from Musk at the launch event. The CEO did say the battery assembly facility is only a third of its planned footprint.

[Images: Tesla]

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6 of 73 comments
  • MKizzy MKizzy on Mar 15, 2019

    So its a vertically stretched model 3 with a sharply slanted liftback limiting its utility. Great. I'm looking forward to seeing if and when Tesla has the capital for a major restyle of its vehicle lineup. If they don't, Musk and Co will be stuck with vehicles that will grow familiar and stale in the public eye as competitors continue to introduce fresher and (probably) more reliable electric models.

    • See 2 previous
    • Jatz Jatz on Mar 16, 2019

      @MKizzy I completely agree with your opinions and your desired product.

  • Amca Amca on Mar 16, 2019

    Musk completely blew the introduction. Couldn't get on the company's feed for the intro show. A tech company couldn't live stream a major product introduction. So I wound up watching it on some tech blogger's live-stream. Elon was up there rambling on and on and on, saying whatever popped into his head. The stage was dark and very crowded, so it was impossible to actually see the new Model Y. D minus grade. Made Tesla look amateurish. I kept thinking: too many people in the company have been fired by Musk, or walked out because Musk is nuts. And this is what you get when there are no professionals left in the company.

    • Indi500fan Indi500fan on Mar 17, 2019

      The last two Tesla "galas" (LA tunnel and Model Y) have basically been a joke. Like Musk is just playing with the media.

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.