Tesla will unveil a follow-up to the Model 3 — a crossover called Model Y — during a special event held at its Los Angeles Design Studio on Thursday, March 14. Those who can’t travel to California to watch the unveiling in person will be able to stream it live via Tesla’s official website starting at 8 p.m. local time.
Just as the Model 3 is a smaller counterpart to the Model S, the hotly anticipated Model Y will be the little sibling to the Model X. Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that the new vehicle will be “about 10 percent bigger than Model 3, so will cost about 10 percent more, and have slightly less range for same battery.” That’s because, being a crossover, it will be taller and heavier than its sedan counterpart.
His comments strongly suggest — but don’t confirm — that the Model Y will be offered with several range options. We expect the entry-level model will offer about 200 miles of range, while the top-spec variant will be capable of driving for approximately 300 miles on one charge. The lineup will grow later in the production run with the addition of a mid-level model with a roughly 250-mile range, and a Performance-badged version with a blisteringly quick 0-to-60-mph time. Dual-motor all-wheel drive will most likely be the only configuration offered. Every Model Y will be compatible with the company’s growing network of Supercharger stations.
Dark teaser images released by the firm suggest the Model Y will borrow a handful of styling cues like a tall, angular front end from the Model X, especially when viewed from the front. It’s too early to tell exactly what it will look like, though. One thing is for sure: don’t expect to find the X’s trick falcon rear doors on the Y. Tesla has gone to great lengths to make its smaller cars simpler (and, consequently, cheaper) to build than its bigger models, so the Y will arrive with conventional, front-hinged rear doors.
What’s under the sheet metal is just as mysterious as the design itself. Musk originally said the Model Y would be based on an entirely new platform, but he later conceded it will ride on the platform that underpins the Model 3. That’s what most people originally expected, especially considering the difficulties the company has faced in ramping up Model 3 production. Building two (or more) nameplates on the same platform is common in the automotive industry, and it will allow Tesla to leverage the benefits of economies of scale.
The Model 3’s minimalist interior should carry over to the Model Y with only minor modifications. That means a vast majority of the buttons, dials, and stalks commonly found in cars will be replaced by a 15-inch, television-like touchscreen mounted on top of the dashboard. That’s just the tip of the tech iceberg. Model Y owners will be able to use their smartphone to lock and unlock the car via Bluetooth signal, and buyers will have the option of paying extra for what Tesla calls Enhanced Autopilot. It will add eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a forward radar that will allow the car to change lanes, read speed limit signs, navigate freeway off-ramps, brake if it detects a collision is imminent, and park itself.
We expect the Model Y will arrive with a price tag in the vicinity of $38,500, and it could become Tesla’s best-seller by a long shot because it will compete in one of the most popular segments of the market. Production is tentatively scheduled to start in early 2020, though years of covering Tesla have taught us to take its deadlines with a grain of salt. One of its closest competitors, the production version of the Audi Q4 E-Tron concept, will arrive on the market in late 2020.
What else will Tesla talk about on March 14?
The Model Y will be the uncontested star of the March 14 event, but Tesla will most likely take advantage of the buzz it will create to make additional important announcements. It will likely talk about its other ongoing projects, such as the semi truck it unveiled in 2017 and the long-promised pickup truck, and it could give us an update on its roller coaster-like sales strategy.
Updated on March 13, 2019: Added the latest information about the Tesla Model Y.