Tesla plans to launch its first mass-market car, the Model 3, by the end of 2017. But Tesla also has another important vehicle in the works.
In July 2016, Musk confirmed that Tesla plans to bring a new compact SUV to market, dubbed the Model Y. And now we know when to expect the vehicle.
Last Wednesday, Musk said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that the Model Y will arrive by either late 2019 or 2020. It was the first time Musk had shared a timeline for the SUV.
Musk has kept mum on most other details pertaining to the upcoming vehicle, but he has talked generally about features coming to future Tesla vehicles and has talked a lot about the Model Y’s sister vehicle, the Model 3.
Based on his comments, we pulled together a list of some of the features we’ll likely see in Tesla’s Model Y.
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Musk said during company's recent earnings call that the SUV would be built on an entirely new platform.
This was unexpected, as it was widely speculated that the upcoming SUV would be based on the same platform as the Model 3.
Tesla will take it's manufacturing to the next level with the production of the Model Y.
During Tesla's first quarter earnings call, Musk said that the company would make significant automation improvements to its production line with the Model 3, but the Model Y is where the manufacturing process will really become
'With the Model 3, I think we will be roughly comparable with the best high-volume vehicle production lines in the world. Better in some respects, a little worse in others, but roughly comparable,' Musk said.
'Then where things will really be a step change beyond any other auto manufacturer will be the Model Y factory. And this is both a function of designing the product to be easy to manufacture and easy to automate as well as designing the factory itself. So Model Y is where I think it really becomes a step change,' he said.
Tesla has been investing heavily in automating its manufacturing process.
In November, the automaker announced it was acquiring Grohmann Engineering, a German engineering company that specialises in making automated manufacturing systems.
At the time, Musk said Tesla's factories would become increasingly more important as the company grows its production volume.
'As the machine that builds the machine, our factories are so important that we believe they will ultimately deserve an order of magnitude more attention in engineering than what they produce. At very high production volumes, the factory becomes more of a product than the product itself,' Musk said in a statement.
In October 2015, Musk posted a tweet suggesting the Model Y could have falcon-wing doors.
In a response to a Twitter follower asking if the Model 3 crossover will have falcon-wing doors, Musk said that 'there will be a Model 3 and a Model Y. One of the two will.'
Musk later deleted the tweet.
It's worth noting that Musk revealed a prototype of the Model 3 in March and that car did not have falcon-wing doors, so perhaps they will show up on the Model Y, at least as an option.
In November 2016, Musk said via Twitter that Tesla would likely begin to include solar roofs as an option for its cars. Musk didn't share a specific timeline of when to expect the feature, but he did say that it 'would probably be an option' on the Model 3. He also said in a follow-up tweet that it wouldn't be too expensive.
Musk has been hinting at the possibility of Tesla building cars with solar roofs for some time.
After the unveiling of Tesla's solar glass shingles in late October, Musk tweeted that the same glass technology could be used on the roof of a car. Musk said that its solar glass for cars would be net positive, meaning that it would create more energy than it used to power certain vehicle features, like defrosters.
Given that Musk said a solar-roof option will likely be available for the Model 3, it's likely we'll see it either come standard or as an option on the Model Y.
A heads-up display shows the driver vital data, like navigation information and speed limits, directly on the windshield in front of the driver.
While Tesla doesn't offer a heads-up display on any of its vehicles (unlike other premium car makers), it's speculated that the Model 3 may come equipped with one.
Tesla has not yet revealed what the Model 3 dashboard and instrument panel will look like, but in April, Musk said via Twitter that the Model 3 will have a steering system that 'feels like a spaceship.'
While it's not yet clear if this means that the Model 3 will have a heads-up display, it's likely that by the time Tesla launches the Model Y it will at least offer the option of a heads-up display.
Tesla cars are known for their semi-autonomous system called Autopilot. But in October 2016, Musk announced he was taking Tesla's self-driving tech to a whole new level with new hardware that enables its newer cars to be completely autonomous.
This means the Model S and Model X models produced after October, including the Model 3, will be equipped with the hardware to eventually be fully autonomous. The full self-driving system costs $US8,000 at the time of purchase and include all of the Enhanced Autopilot features.
However, it's still not clear yet when Tesla will actually enable full autonomy on its cars for customers. The company states on its website that this will depend on software validation and regulatory approval, which will vary by geographic location.
When the Model Y comes out in 2019 or 2020, we can almost certainly expect it to be equipped with the updated hardware. What's more, Tesla may have done enough software validation by then that customers in some parts of the world may even be able to take advantage of the fully autonomous system.
Tesla's premium SUV, the Model X, has spacious seating, but when it first launched it was a little tight on cargo space. That's because the second row of seats didn't fold down.
In November 2016, though, Tesla began offering a configuration that allows the second-row seats in a five-seat Model X to fold down, providing 88 cubic feet of interior cargo storage.
Musk made sure not to make the same mistake regarding utility with the Model 3. At its reveal, Musk said that drivers will be able to fit a seven-foot surfboard in the vehicle and hinted that the back seats will fold down.
Given the problems Tesla had with cargo space in the Model X at the launch and its focus on cargo in the Model 3, it's likely we'll see lots of interior storage in the Model Y.
In May 2016, Tesla said that it would produce one million vehicles per year by 2020. Previously, the company had aimed to make 500,000 cars by 2020.
During Tesla's recent earnings call, Musk was asked if he still thought that the company could produce one million vehicles by 2020. Musk said that he did still think Tesla could hit that ambitious target, but only with the addition of the Model Y to its lineup.
'I think we need to come out with the Model Y sometime in 2020 or aspirationally late 2019 and then I think a million units is quite likely, maybe more,' Musk said.
To put that into perspective, Tesla produced 83,922 vehicles in 2016.
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