Auto industry Tesla Model Y

Published on May 5th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

Tesla Model Y Will Not Be Based On Model 3 Platform

May 5th, 2017 by  
 

The Q&A session following every Tesla quarterly earnings call is the time when Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes to slip in little tidbits of information that no one was expecting. On the Q1 earnings call on May 3, Musk was asked if the Model Y crossover the company plans to build will be based on the Model 3 platform. The question got a terse “No,” from Musk.

Tesla Model Y

How similar will the Tesla Model Y be to the Tesla Model X? Source: Tesla

Wait, what? All this time, people assumed the long-awaited electric CUV from Tesla would be a Model 3 with a higher roofline and falcon-wing doors. Apparently, that is not meant to be, however.

The Model 3 will probably be an awesome car, but it is a sedan. Demand for sedans is cratering in the US and around the world as buyers clamor for more crossovers and SUVs. Sales of those vehicles is exploding so fast, even Toyota is wondering out loud if there is still a business case to be made for sedans.

Musk says boldly that Tesla will be building 1 million vehicles by 2020 and the Model Y is considered a critical part of making that prediction come true. “I think we need to come up with the Model Y sometime in 2020 or, aspirationally, late 2019. And then I think that 1 million units is quite likely — combined, yes. Maybe more,” Musk has said.

Why would Tesla spend the money and take the time to engineer a third vehicle platform when every other manufacturer is shrinking the number of platforms in use? It’s all about advances in manufacturing, apparently. Musk has spoken often about reinventing manufacturing, of building a better “machine that makes the machine,” one that can put things together faster and more efficiently using lots more robots.

“Then where things will really be a step change, I think, 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.”

Musk now says the Model Y will do away with the conventional 12 volt electrical system. Higher voltages require thinner wires. The Model 3 is said to use far less wiring than other cars. One of the reasons it will have only one visual display is to make manufacturing easier and further reduce the amount of wiring used in the car. Musk hasn’t said what the new electrical system will be, but 48 volt systems are being promoted by a number of automotive suppliers.

Some analysts worry that the public, which is known for being exceedingly fickle, may not be as enamored of the actual Model 3 once it arrives as they are of the thought of the Model 3. It is believed the company has as many as 500,000 reservations for the Model 3. The question is how many of those reservations will turn into actual orders.

The other factor is that by the time the Model Y gets here, electric SUVs/CUVs from other manufacturers like Jaguar, Audi, Volkswagen, and Kia will also be competing for attention in the marketplace. Some think the Tesla logo is all Musk will need to sell his 1 million cars a year, and those people could be right. “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

Source: Motley Fool





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About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.



  • airchompers

    “Demand for sedans is cratering in the US and around the world as buyers clamor for more crossovers and SUVs”

    Is cratering the right way to describe it? America leads the world in its taste for large vehicles; a top 10 chart of the best selling vehicles in America 2017 YTD has

    3 trucks
    4 CUVs
    3 Sedans

    Now, it’s a far cry from the days when sedans were 6-7 of the top 10 best sellers but it’s not a dead market. And for all the histrionics around the death of the midsize sedan, a lot of the ground is lost to compact-in-name-only sedans. Now, we have Accord sales going to the Civic and Camry buyers purchasing the Corolla.

    The mid size sedan is dead. If 2001 Camrys were ‘good enough’ for most families, the Corolla would be even more ‘good enough’ and it has better monthly payment terms. Long live the midsize sedan.

    But people say ‘I like to sit up high or I’m too lazy to lift my carcass into/out of a sedan’ and then buy CUVs – which is more a sign of who’s buying new cars (skewing older with enough money to buy things that work for them rather than making cheap things work). how many of them would be interested in a Tesla anyways? If you’d rather spend an extra 4k to sit higher and get AWD for the snow rather than learning how to look around in traffic and anticipating consequences to the extent that you can successfully 2wd through snow, I’d wager you’re not going to figure out how to adjust your routine / driving for an electric car. 200 mile range? ‘X is 250 miles away and I’m not going to put up with the inconvenience of driving slightly out of my way and waiting for a charge.’

    My mom refuses to consider a leaf (which would be the perfect commuter for her) because she doesn’t want to find a way to charge it on the way to her friend’s cabin (that she goes to every few years) nor the burden of talking with my father and coordinating a car swap so she can drive a gasser on her semi-annual trips outside a 20 mile radius of the house. A Tesla solves the leaf’s problems – not my mom’s problem. She would never consider a Tesla anyway regardless of whether or not it’s a 3 or a SUV.

    My hunch is that a lot of these SUVs are purchased by idiots who can’t responsibly afford the thing they’re buying. Look at the loan terms (most are >60 months now) and low interest rates and dealers/banks who are willing to roll negative equity into a new car loan. If the loans reflected the risk, people would have to buy something that costs less and that’s a sedan.

    If Tesla needs to find idiots to sell Model 3s, they better set up camp outside a Jeep dealership that works with credit challenged customers. My hunch is that the Model 3 will be tough to get through 2018 and that’s not because of cheap credit or idiots. But a sale is a sale and we’ll see how many Tesla earns.

  • joewilder

    I’m sure that like most thingsTesla does, the Model 3 will be much better than we thought.

  • James Rowland

    48v systems have been a topic of note for well over a decade in the automotive industry, though there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement yet; 12v is still the standard. It’ll be another sign of the incumbents’ stagnation if Tesla is the one who pushes it – or some equivalent – forward.

    The CAN bus standard is also long overdue for replacement; its anaemic bandwidth has been holding back everything from vision systems to firmware deployment, and its lack of any security model sure bit FCA hard with the Uconnect remote exploit debacle. A wiring loom that’s simpler, cheaper and more capable has been possible for a while. Looks like it’ll be Tesla that makes it happen.

    It seems this culture of pushing technology forward despite the pain of self-cannibalisation is anathema to the incumbents, but they’ll have to adopt it anyway if they want to keep up.

    • Steve Hanley

      48 volt makes sense for a number of reasons. For one thing, it provides enough oomph to power electric superchargers like the one Volvo is using in its latest offerings. The supercharger overcomes the dreaded turbo lag at low vehicle speeds. It also permits better stop/start systems. The extra juice can power AC compressors, electric steering and braking systems, power windows, heated seats, and infotainment systems when the engine is off.

      • James Rowland

        Weak hybrid systems are another potential application of 48v. It all seems like too little, too late for ICE though; I’d have welcomed it 20 years ago and I’m still fascinated by the technology, but now it seems like good money thrown after bad.

        Note how different the value of 48v is to Tesla though: where incumbents see it as a way to make ICEs slightly better without spending too much money, for Tesla it is only a cost saving; they can have an order of magnitude less copper in the wiring loom.

        No doubt other manufacturers will benefit once the automotive supply chain has been persuaded (by Tesla) to make 48v-compatible parts in volume, but once again they will have to credit the new guy for making it happen.

  • Marc P

    Even though they are completely different beasts, as far as the actual people buying vehicles, I think the slew of more affordable PHEV SUV’s coming in the next few years will be real competition for the Model Y.

    That being said, there might still be enough demand for pure EV’s to make Mr Musk’s predictions come true… with maybe a year or two of delay… as is usually the case !

  • PeteDisqus321

    “Demand for sedans is cratering in the US and around the world as buyers clamor for more crossovers and SUVs.”

    I don’t think it’s certain that this will hold for EVs going forwards, especially as people see that an electric sedan has considerably better range than an electric SUV with an equivalent battery/price point.

    • Steve Hanley

      Good points. A current comparison exists. The Kia Niro hybrid SUV gets 52 mpg (in base configuration). It mechanical twin, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is rated 59 mpg — a significant difference. The money is about the same. Yet the Niro is outselling the Ioniq 3 to 1. People are crazy for SUVs. Or maybe people are just crazy?

  • Raphael Sturm

    “The Model 3 is said to use far less wiring than other cars.”

    Sorry to say, but those 1.5km wiring really isn’t too much of an improvement over other cars. The new VW golf also has 1.5km wiring.

    It is a good improvement over the 3km in the Model S, though.

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