Tesla will reveal the much-anticipated Model Y battery-SUV during a March 14 event in Los Angeles, with a “futuristic” all-electric pickup to follow later this year, CEO Elon Musk said in a series of tweets on Sunday.
The Model Y will be smaller than the current Model X, Musk confirmed, but larger – and more expensive – than the Model 3 sedan. But Tesla is betting that it could generate even more demand considering the ongoing market shift from passenger cars to light trucks.
“Model Y, being an SUV, is about 10% bigger than Model 3, so will cost about 10% more & have slightly less range for same battery,” the 47-year-old Musk tweeted.
Exactly what that will mean in terms of pricing is unclear. Tesla only last week announced it is finally ready to start selling the long-promised base version of the Model 3, at $35,000. A fully loaded version of the sedan can top $60,000. His comments would suggest that the electric SUV could nudge up towards $70,000 territory.
(Musk confirms Tesla won’t be profitable in Q1. Click Here for the story.)
The South African-born executive previously said that the compact crossover will not feature the unusual “falcon wing” doors that are such a distinctive part of the bigger Model X – but also a source of significant quality and reliability issues. During a late January earnings call, meanwhile, Musk noted that, “three-quarters of Model Y parts are common with the Model 3 so (investments in the vehicle) are much lower.”
That will be critical for Tesla in its bid to stay consistently in the black. The automaker squeaked out a small profit during the final three months of the year, marking the second profitable quarter in a row. But Musk last week said during a conference call that Tesla will lose money during the January-March quarter of this year.
There are a number of unanswered questions about the Model Y, including production plans. The executive appeared to leave the final decision open during that call, suggesting it was likely the new battery-ute would be assembled at the Gigafactory plant in Reno, Nevada. But the final decision had not yet been made, he cautioned.
The Model 3 became the world’s best-selling battery-electric vehicle in 2018, pushing past the Nissan Leaf. But there have been a number of analyst reports raising questions about the sustainability of that demand, something Tesla appears to be trying to address by finally rolling out the base-priced version of the Model 3. The problem is that the $35,000 price tag strains Tesla’s ability to deliver the car for a profit, a key reason Musk said Tesla plans to close most of its stores and focus on online sales.
Whether there will be an under-$40,000 version of the Model Y is another question yet to be answered, but Musk is confident there will be strong demand for the vehicle, whatever the price.
“We will probably see higher volumes for Model Y than Model 3,” he said in January, perhaps “double.”
(Click Here for details about Musk’s declaration Tesla will have a driverless car by the end of the year.)
That would be in line with the overall surge in sales of SUVs and CUVs in the American market. They now account for more than half of all new vehicle demand, while sedan sales have slid to barely a third of the market, with the shift continuing to accelerate.
The Model Y is just one of several new products Tesla is developing. It is working on an all-new version of its very first vehicle, the Roadster, as well as a heavy-duty Semi for commercial freight haulers.
Meanwhile, Musk also tweeted on Sunday that an all-electric pickup also will debut later this year.
“Personally, I’m most excited by the Tesla Truck,” he wrote in a tweet “Maybe it will be too futuristic for most people, but I love it.”
The exact timing for both the Model Y and the pickup to go on sale has not been announced, but Tesla will be facing a wave of competition in both categories. Jaguar already is selling its own battery-ute, the I-Pace, with all-electric utility vehicles coming from manufacturers as diverse as Aston Martin, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. Jeep is planning four plug-in hybrids and CEO Mike Manley last week said it may also add some battery-electric models, as well.
On the pickup side, meanwhile, Tesla is also facing competition. Start-up Rivian unveiled both a long-range truck and SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November. Last month, online retailer Amazon announced a major investment in the Detroit-based company. Some expect General Motors may also team up with Rivian.
(Tesla now selling $35K Model 3; selling vehicles online only. Click Here for the story.)
Whether or not that happens, TheDetroitBureau.com reported in January that GM is exploring options for a battery-electric pickup. And Ford Motor Co. has publicly announced plans for an electric truck that is expected to be based on its F-150, the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market.