Reflections on the Tesla Model Y announcement

Today the Tesla Model Y was revealed to the world. A few hours on from the event, I’ve thought a lot about the car, the event and the response...

Today the Tesla Model Y was revealed to the world. A few hours on from the event, I’ve thought a lot about the car, the event and the response from the world and it’s time to talk about it.

The car itself essentially holds no surprises, it is what we expected, a mid-sized Crossover or SUV. The Model Y delivers all the latest in Tesla technology and the same model lineup of the Model 3 – Standard, Long Range, Dual-motor and Performance.

The car is available in configurations of 5 or 7 (no 6 seat option) seats depending on your preference. There’s a familiar selection of colours (Black, Silver, Blue, White and Multi-coat red).

When it comes to wheels, there’s the same Model 3 options right now, so the wheels shown off during the event are currently not available through the configurator. When it comes to the interior, you get a single option, interior.

Design

When it comes to what’s new, the biggest difference is the chrome delete option, something many Model 3 owners are doing post-purchase and sharing on Tesla forums and Facebook groups. To have that available from the factory is a nice touch.

The event showed a couple of shots of interior of the car. When inside you’ll have a panoramic glass roof to give the effect of a larger cabin, while the familiar 15″ horizontally mounted touchscreen is also borrowed from the Model 3. This display is used to control all aspects of the Model Y.

The taller car means the front had to change and uses a taller version of the Model 3 front. This front is something that makes you love or hate the car as its completely unique to Tesla. Personally I’ve never been blown away by it, but it doesn’t offend me like it does to others.

The rear end of the Model Y definitely looks like a copy, paste from the Model X and that has a lot to do with the rear hatch to help with storage.

The Model Y uses the same thumb-first door handles of the Model 3, so Tesla are clearly all in on them, regardless of what you think. Personally I loved the elegance of the solution found on the Model S and X, but price does mean some things (like air suspension) don’t make it to the Y.

Just in case you’re wondering, there are no fance falcon-wing doors on the Model Y, that’s a complexity and expense that just isn’t on offer here.

Performance

It wouldn’t be a Tesla without offering some serious performance and the Model Y is no exception. Tesla says it’ll do 0-100km/hr in just 3.7 seconds (Performance model) and a more conservative 6.3s for the standard model.

With the Performance model, it’s only slightly down on the Model 3’s 3.2 seconds. I’m not sure many people will buy the Model Y for the drag strip, but it is great to know that when you need it, spirited driving is available under your right foot.

Acceleration is one measure of performance, but so is top speed. The Model Y is good for 241km/hr (Performance) or 193km/hr (standard).. if you find yourself on a track and unconcerned about the lack of insurance cover there. While the weight of the car isn’t currently detailed, that is impressive, as was the Model X with it’s slightly higher top speed of 249km/hr.

Wheel sizes range from 18 to 20″ depending on the model you select. The 20″ are exclusive to the Performance model, as is the brake calipers and carbon fibre spoiler like with the Model 3. What we don’t yet know is if the Model Y will feature the same ‘Track mode’.

Size and Storage

When it comes to the size of the car, a key decision maker will be the amount of things you (and your family) can fit in the vehicle. Tesla says the Modle Y features 66 cubic feet of storage space, down from 77 in the Model X and up from 63.3 in the Model S. When compared to the storage capacity of the Model 3 of just 15 cubic feet, you can see the elevated rear end of the Model Y, pays dividends in terms of storage.

Tesla seem to have taken feedback from the community regarding the issue of a powered tailgate. The Model Y will likely see you with a hands-full of luggage, so powered makes sense (like the Model X).

Charging and range

The Model Y battery size was never provided, but the range was. Tesla says the standard edition will get you up to 370km (230 miles), while the long range version will achieve a very healthy 482km (300 miles).

These range numbers are a little down from the 354km and 523km figures of the Model 3 which suggests one of two things. Either the Model Y is carrying more weight (expected given its a larger car) or Tesla are loading it with a slightly smaller battery to achieve their aggressive EV price points.

Naturally the Model Y will be fully compatible with Tesla’s recently announced Gen3 Superchargers. This means recharging will be minutes not hours and with their investment in the supercharger network throughout the east-coast of Australia, travelling most places in a Tesla is practical.

There was no talk of free supercharging, so looks like Model Y owners will pay from day 1 of Supercharger use.

Price and Availability

In terms of availability, the timeframe was always going to be a little awkward given the Model 3 is not yet available in Australia and many have pre-orders. Watching a new model of Tesla be unveiled was interesting, as it determined if you’d fall in love with the Model Y and cancel your pre-order for the 3, or confirm you do want a sedan and be happy you don’t have to extend your waiting period.

Tesla will start production of the Model Y later this year for deliveries in 2020. That’ll certainly mean shipments to the US and maybe Europe, but many other countries, especially right-hand drive markets are expected to have delays like we faced with the Model 3 (some years after the US launch).

The cheapest US$37K standard edition is the hardest price point for Tesla to hit, so they’ve pushed that out till 2021 (again, likely 2022+ for Australia). Still for just over $50K, that should make a lot of mid-sized SUV maker’s very uncomfortable.

Musk said during the event that the Model Y would handle ‘like a sedan’. While the weight will be placed low in the car, thanks to the battery, it’s hard to imagine it’s got the same feel as the Model S or 3 in terms of handling, if nothing else, due to the elevated seating position.

Final thoughts

Today’s event was mostly a lesson in history, I think to hide the fact the unveiling of the Model Y, was actually a really short process. The event lacked any serious surprises, something we’ve come to expect from new Tesla vehicle launches these days.

I’m not disappointed by the Model Y, it fills an important gap in the Tesla product portfolio. Given there’s a lot of the market skewing towards mid-sized SUVs, it makes lots of sense Tesla would go there.

I wasn’t completely sure how people would react to the announcement of the Model Y as an option, so I asked Twitter. After 62 Votes, 26% or just over a quarter of people with Model 3 pre-orders have seen enough from the Model Y that they will (or already have) cancelled, while almost 3/4 of people (74%) are keen to stay with the Model 3.

Some of that would certainly relate to the additional wait time for the Model Y, so only once we have both in the market (say 2022) will we really know which Aussie prefer. By then, there’s likely to be plenty of other automakers with competitive offerings.

It is strange the press event stage was so dimly lit, given you want the product to be seen. Thankfully since the event the press photos have been released which show off the vehicles design much better. It’s not for everyone, but there’s no mistaking it’s a Tesla.

More information at https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/modely

One last thing..

I think this is a website error rather than a new feature, but the Australian Tesla site lists ‘Internet browser’ under the Premium Interior features. To-date, the browser has not been enabled in Australia, so this would be a welcome addition if it arrives.

During the event, Musk did again repeat his timeline for full self-driving which they expect to be done by the end of 2019. The caveat is when regulators agree that it’s safe enough for people to go to sleep, or even use their mobile phones. If that major level 4/5 autonomous driving can be achieved before the Model Y releases in Australia, then yes, internet browser, should definitely be included.

Premium Interior 

  • 12-way power adjustable front and rear heated seats
  • Three independently folding 2nd row seats
  • Premium audio – 14 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps, and immersive sound
  • Satellite-view maps with live traffic visualization and navigation
  • In-car internet streaming music & media
  • Internet browser
  • Location aware automatic garage door opener
  • LED fog lamps
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • Music and media over Bluetooth® 
  • Custom driver profiles 
  • Center console with storage, 4 USB ports and docking for 2 smartphones

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Creator of LSpotify, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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