The first thing that struck me about Tesla's new Model Y when it was presented on stage in Los Angeles on Thursday night was what Model 3 looks like. A few minutes later, when I walked in for a quick ride , The similarities were undeniable.
As we went down and back on Jack Northrop Avenue, just outside the fences that surrounded both the Tesla design studio and the SpaceX headquarters, it was sometimes hard to remember that I was in the front seat of a new car that won & # 39; will go into production until 2020. Aside from a slightly higher handling height and slightly improved visibility, it could also have been in Tesla's first mass-market electric car Model 3.
On the one hand, that it's great. It meant that the Model Y felt close to being ready for production, and not like a prototype in poor condition that was pushed on the stage to generate preorders. On the other hand, it was also a bit … disappointing?
To be fair, Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, had telegraphed both before the presentation of the Model Y. For example, Musk said the new compact SUV would share about 75 percent of the parts with the Model 3 I understood that, in theory, it would be easier and more economical to build the Model Y, but I guess I had not processed the way in which these similarities would literally manifest themselves.
The Model Y shares the giant touch screen, dashboard and even the same center console as the Model 3. And since Model 3 has one of the smallest cockpits on the market, there was not much more to distinguish the Model Y Interior savings for the optional third row seats.
Looking to the future, it seems quite clear that one of the questions that Tesla will face in the many months between now and when the first Model Ys the shipment in "Autumn 2020" will be if it is different enough of the Model 3. The driving height, the more robust profile and the ability to put in two jump seats will distinguish the enough car? Do customers care, especially when the Model 3 is cheaper? There were concerns that Model Y could affect the demand for Model 3, but after Thursday's event, I think it's worth considering the inverse of that problem.
At one point during the development of the Model Y, in May 2017, Musk announced that the company's compact SUV would be built from scratch on a single platform, with a new battery architecture, less electrical wiring (which it would facilitate the construction of the automobile with robots) and the same "Hawk Wing" doors found in the Model X. Apparently it had become rogue; just three months later, he said, "on the advice of my executive team to get me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y, in fact, will use a substantial transfer of the Model 3 to bring it to the market faster." "
Who knows when the Musk version of the Model Y will hit the road? But the one that goes to production now will not go on sale until the end of next year, so it's not clear how much time was finally saved. Tesla by following in the footsteps of many other automakers and designing a compact SUV that is based on a Platform sedan (hence the term "crossover" art).
The version of the Model Y that was presented Thursday night will probably be cheaper and easier to manufacture for Tesla, two things that it could use desperately after the problems the company encountered with Model 3, but it will be difficult not to do what. spend the next year and a half wondering what crazy idea came to Musk in 2017.
Model Y looks great and felt fast. But we've known for years that Tesla can design sleek-looking cars. And last year, the company even demonstrated that it can build them to scale when it pumped around 140,000 models 3 and 100,000 of the S model and the X model.