Tesla Model Y production starts at Fremont

Published: 17 March 2020

 New Tesla Model Y is a baby SUV
 Completes Tesla S, 3, X, Y range

 Crossover-ish partner to Model 3

Tesla has started building the long-awaited Model Y electric crossover at its Fremont factory in California, which has managed to remain open for now, despite the carnage being wrought by the coronavirus elsewhere in the global car industry.

The news was confirmed in a tweet by the main Tesla Twitter account:

The Model Y is the more upright, SUV-style version of the smaller, cheaper Model 3 - and it could arguably be an even more important car for the pioneering EV company. It's Musk's version of the baby, crossover SUV – a segment that brands such as VW, Audi and well, everyone seems to be all over in 2020. It's also one of the most important sectors in the rapidly growing Chinese market. 

So what do we actually know about the Model Y? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the taller, more practical Model 3. 

Our pick of the best electric cars and EVs on sale today

The new 2020 Tesla Model Y: a crossover version of the Model 3

Tesla has been around for a while now, and in that time the EV brand has carved out its own design language. Cybertruck aside, all Tesla models look roughly the same: sloping rooflines, grille-less front-ends and chrome details are pretty much the norm, now. 

It’s natural, then, that the Model Y doesn’t stray from the family look. And you could argue it just looks like a slightly taller Model 3. The rear half is arguably better proportioned than a Model X, and its shape hides a party trick we’ll come on to later.

Revealed: the new Tesla Cybertruck electric pick-up

Tesla Model Y rear

What platform is the Model Y based on?

It's not just looks the Model Y shares with the Model 3. The Tesla Model Y slots underneath the Model X in terms of size, but CEO Elon Musk said the new crossover will share 75% of its parts with the current Model 3.

This is most evident when it comes to the interior – it’s pretty much exactly the same design as the 3's cabin, complete with a large central touchscreen display providing all of your required information in one place. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on your thoughts on touchscreens... 

Tesla says Autopilot is still a thing, as is remote unlock via an app (a key is so 20th century), the usual summon function and preconditioning.

Future electric cars: the EVs worth waiting for

The Model Y is a seven-seater

So that party trick? The Model Ycan be a seven-seater. The brand says its baby SUV has ‘room for up to seven adults’ with its optional third row. We’ll be the judge of that, given our experiences with our own Model S long-term test car’s boot-mounted pews. The second row also split-folds and total storage space is claimed at more than 1800 litres.

Tesla Model Y interior

We've seen pictures of the third-row seats on a Japanese blog, and attributed to Reddit – and those hoping for seven comfortable passengers are going to be disappointed. Just look at the setup below!

What will the electric range be? How far will the Model Y go on one charge?

Like the Model 3, the Model Y will have four different battery range options: Standard, Long Range, Dual-Motor AWD and Performance.

Tesla says the standard car claims up to 230 miles of range, with the Long Range version capable of around 300 miles. A 3.5sec 0-62mph time is claimed (presumably for the Performance version) and is capable of topping 150mph. Like every Tesla, the 3 can access the Supercharger network including the latest V3 ones for superior fast charging.

Our guide to Tesla Supercharging

Okay… when can I buy a Tesla Model Y and how much will it cost?

Well, Tesla says deliveries are ‘expected’ to start around autumn of 2020 for all versions bar the standard one, with that last model aiming to start appearing on driveways in spring of 2021.

Tesla points to a $39,000 price tag for the standard range one, with the others naturally expected to cost more. At today's conversion rates, that's around £29,000, but we would predict the UK prices will be more likely to match the American price dollar-for-pound.

We’ll wait and see if Tesla’s pricing and delivery plans stick to their original timeline. We’ll update this story when we know more.

Further electric car reading

The best electric cars and EVs on sale today

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

Future electric cars: upcoming EVs to look out for

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches