A Tesla Model 3 car at a motor show in Beijing, China. Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla unveiled its Model Y electric sports utility vehicle on Thursday evening in California, promising a much-awaited crossover that will face competition from European car makers rolling out their own electric rivals. Chief Executive Elon Musk said the compact SUV, built on the same platform as the Model 3, would first debut in a long-range version with a range of 300 miles (482 km) priced at $47,000.
A standard version, to be available sometime in 2021, would cost $39,000, with a 230-mile range. The vehicles can be configured to include 7 seats for an additional $3,000. After the event, Tesla’s website included a page to “design and order” the more expensive, long-range version of the vehicle with rear-wheel drive, available next year. Ordering the car requires a $2,500 refundable deposit.
Musk unveiled the vehicle at a short 40-minute event at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, outside Los Angeles, that was streamed live online.
Each of Tesla’s vehicles, from the Roadster to the latest Semi, were driven onstage before the blue Model Y appeared. Small SUVs are the fastest-growing segment in the United States and China, the world’s largest auto market, where Tesla is building a factory, making the Model Y well positioned to tap demand. Tesla has enjoyed little competition thus far for its sedans, but competition for electric SUVs is heating up as Tesla tries to master a new set of economics from the luxury line that made its reputation.
On Thursday, ratings company Fitch warned that, despite Tesla’s early lead, “incumbent carmakers have the ability to catch up ... thanks to their capacity to invest and their robust record in product management.”