Tesla Model Y debuts in California with $39,000 base price

Tesla Model Y debuts in California with $39,000 base price

Troy Powers
March 16, 2019

Mercedes hopes to lure Tesla customers with its EQC, which launches this year with a range about the same as the Audi e-tron's.

Tesla revealed the Model Y small crossover at its Southern California offices late Thursday night.

It's fair to say the automaker is up against an entirely different set of hurdles than it was on March 31, 2016. Would the established auto makers be as far down the path with their EV plans if it wasn't for Tesla?

Three years later, affordable long-range electric vehicles no longer have such a pent-up demand. Technically speaking, the Model 3-based machine might be better classified as a crossover, and that's a very big deal since crossovers and SUVs are figuratively and literally killing saloons not just in North America, but around the world.

It also features a panoramic glass roof, seating for seven people and will come feature complete with autopilot some time later this year. And with Tesla being Tesla, an all-wheel drive dual-motor version will be available for $51,000 while a performance version will be available for $60,000. However, the Standard Range won't make an appearance until Spring 2021.

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.

Still, the Model Y, like all Tesla's models, has already seen pre-production delays. At this stage it has yet to be fully confirmed whether SA will get the Tesla brand, although late past year Musk did state, in reply to a Tweet, that a Tesla store might open in the country during 2019. He apparently wanted to go with the Model E name instead of Model 3 but Ford (who also applied to trademark the Model E name) didn't like that idea.

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The front trunk and split-folding second-row seats provide a total of 66 cubic feet (1.9 cubic meters) of storage space.

The Y comes with a suite of 12 ultrasonic sensors and a 160-meter forward radar system.

The all-electric, mid-size SUV will start at $39,000 for the standard range version, which the company said can go 230 miles (370 kilometers) on a single charge. The Model Y's main competition in this still-nascent market is likely to be the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and to a lesser extent, the Jaguar I-Pace, according to the research firm LMC Automotive.

Tesla further highlights that "Standard Range production is expected to begin in early 2021", and yes, the Model Y will be manufactured in China too.

Pre-orders for the Model Y are now open. Musk ushered in the entire range of Tesla vehicles by way of introduction, before giving an update on factories, supercharger stations, solar panels and more.

It's important to Tesla's future that it eventually delivers the Y at volume. We'll show you the differences between both the Model Y's closest alternative in price, the Model 3, and utility, the Model X.

Model Y from the rear.