Cash, demand concerns overshadow Tesla's SUV launch

One question has been, would Tesla introduce a base version Model Y to match its recently released $US35,000 Model 3 ($A49,800 at today's rates) from the get go, rather than starting the premium Long Range and Performance versions as has been its modus operandi for the Model 3.

It's fair to say the automaker is up against an entirely different set of hurdles than it was on March 31, 2016. However, some are anxious the new vehicle will pressure demand for what was supposed to be Tesla's flagship auto, the Model 3. It starts with the rear-wheel drive, Standard Range model costing $39,000 ($4,000 more than the cheapest 3), with a range of 230 miles, 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 120mph. They'll undoubtedly find buyers, but they're also probably too limited in their audience to deliver the sort of sales that Tesla needs the Model Y to achieve.

The Model Y will have numerous same features as the Model 3 but will be about 10% bigger.

In running the opposite direction from Model X's Fabergé Egg uniqueness and ambition, the Model Y has for the first time put Tesla in the position of facing criticism of a poorly-differentiated design. Therefore prices will kick off at $39,000 in the USA for the Standard Range (when it's available), or $47,000 for the Long Range. Especially when you consider the price difference between the 3 and the Y is as slim as $2,000, the Model 3 seems unnecessary, even obsolete with the launch of the Y crossover.

This blindsided employees and investors alike, and Tesla backtracked 10 days later, saying in a blog post that more stores would remain open but vehicle prices would have to rise by about 3 percent on average worldwide. The slowest Model Y, the Standard, will hit 60 in 5.9 seconds and have a top speed of 120 miles per hour, while Performance buyers can expect to be able to achieve 150 miles per hour.

Tesla Reveals Model Y ‘Baby SUV’ Tonight: How To Watch Live
Tesla officially unveils the Model Y

All Model Ys feature a panoramic glass roof.

The event at Tesla's Design Studio was very quick, with most of Musk's stage time centering around a retrospective of the company's accomplishments since 2008.

Tesla's recurring production and delivery problems have resulted in consumers having to wait longer than they were originally told.

"The biggest surprise was Model Y initial shipments will begin in the fall of 2020, a year later than we had anticipated". The more powerful versions thus offer slightly less range than the small sedan, which is rated for 220 miles with a full charge in the least-expensive Standard Range and 325 in the Long Range version.

In October, Musk said "significant progress" had been made on the Model Y and that he had approved the prototype for production in 2020. That said, let's get down to the details. Tesla has not announced when or if it will be taking deposits on pre-orders, as it has for past vehicles.

  • Eleanor Harrison