Now that Tesla’s reported a profitable quarter for the first time in two years, with an earnings report that was so good it even won over the short-sellers, people are awaiting what’s next on the assembly line: the Model Y.
The crossover electric SUV, which has been teased for more than a year, is meant to be slightly smaller than European competitors’ midsize SUVs. It could be unveiled in March 2019 and go into production in 2020.
“So we’ve made significant progress on the Model Y,” Musk said on the earnings call yesterday. “I approved the prototype to [go] into production recently.”
“The Y will be a car-based SUV that combines the tall seating position and spacious rear cargo area of a truckier SUV with the fuel economy and more docile handling of a passenger car,” Popular Mechanics posits. It will be vehicle number five in the Tesla lineup, alongside the Model X mid-sized SUV, Model S full-size luxury sedan, the upcoming redesigned Roadster, and the Model 3.
Tesla (TSLA) still has to smooth out the production of the Model 3 before the focus can shift to the Model Y. Musk has been teasing a production plan release for a year now, Eletrek reports. Model Y is expected to have similar specs to Model 3, but it remains unclear if Tesla will build a new factory for it or use the Gigafactory, which is only at 30% capacity. The Verge reports documents filed in Shanghai show Tesla plans to make two different cars at the planned Gigafactory there. One will surely be the Model 3, but the other could be the Model Y.
Musk has said in the past that the Model Y could go for $5,000 more than the Model 3, which currently starts at $45,000. He has also promised a $35,000 version of Model 3, which could mean that Model Y could be priced as low as $40,000, Eletrek speculates. Musk has said he expects Model Y demand to be even greater than the demand for Model 3, potentially reaching 500,000 to 1 million units per year.
The crossover is supposedly going to be entirely vegan. “Model Y will not have any leather in it, even in the steering wheel… even if it does have a steering wheel,” Musk joked in June, implying the new car might be hands-free.
Musk has repeatedly proven his doubters wrong. Short-sellers had once proclaimed the Model 3 would bankrupt Tesla. Now, not only is the Model 3 the best-selling electric car on the market, it’s the single best-selling car in America by dollar sales, Musk said on Tesla’s Wednesday earnings call.
This week, long-time short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research, declared he was now long Tesla stock. “Plain and simple, Tesla is destroying the competition,” he wrote. “Like a magic trick, while everyone is focused on Elon smoking weed, he is quietly smoking the whole automotive industry.”