Tesla Inc has unveiled its Model Y electric sports utility vehicle 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.
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.
Tesla's targeted volume production date of late 2020 for the Model Y would put it behind electric SUV offerings from Volkswagen AG's Audi, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and BMW. "Twelve months from now we will have made about 1 million vehicles," Musk said at the event, without specifying the breakdown of models.
Tesla would "most likely" build the Model Y at Tesla's battery factory in Nevada, he said at the time. Musk gave no new details about where the Model Y would be produced at Thursday's event. Still, the Model Y, like all Tesla models, has already seen pre-production delays. Suppliers were originally told production would start in November 2019, sources told Reuters last year.
In October, Musk said "significant progress" had been made on the Model Y and that he had approved the prototype for production in 2020. In January, he said Tesla had ordered the tooling needed to build the car.