All eyes were on the Model Y after Tesla’s latest earnings call. The compact electric SUV based on the “budget-friendly” Model 3 sedan is apparently arriving sooner than expected.
During the Wednesday call, Tesla went over production plans for its newest vehicle and they were surprisingly ahead of schedule. No, we’re not talking about the Cybertruck, as that’s still a ways off before production, although Tesla CEO Elon Musk did rattle off some high praise for the sci-fi-inspired electric pickup. He was recently spotted in the Los Angeles area showing off the truck to former late-night host Jay Leno.
But back to the Model Y. Instead of blaming “production hell,” or why car orders had been backing up, Musk and other executives seemed optimistic that the three-row SUV was starting production at the Fremont factory and that it should get here on time, perhaps even early for some owners.
The first Model Y vehicles will be delivered by the end of this quarter, sometime in the spring. That is — wait for it — a full season ahead of the expected first deliveries. Last year when the Model Y was officially unveiled, Tesla claimed its long-range version would be here by fall 2020. In the past few months, eagle-eyed Tesla fans have spotted production Model Ys out in the wild in parts of the U.S. and Canada.
The cheapest model isn’t expected until 2021, so the price-conscious shouldn’t get too excited about the company getting its act together and performing that efficiently. Remember, this is still Tesla, the company that took what felt like forever to start delivering the Model 3 in 2018. And the promise of a lower-cost Model 3 didn’t arrive until February 2019, just barely.
The Model Y is very similar in design to the Model 3, which has been flying off the factory floor. In the last three months of 2019, more than 92,600 Model 3s were delivered. That’s to Tesla’s advantage since it’ll be easier to get the new SUV up and out to owners since it’s following a similar factory production plan. It’s just a matter of doing that at volume. As Musk said during the call, “We’re not too worried about demand, we’re worried about production.”
To help with that, 2021 is when Model Y production will start at the new Tesla Shanghai factory. Eventually, the Model Y will also be made at the soon-to-be-built Berlin-area factory. So much Model Y coming up.
Another pleasant surprise, the expected 280-mile range battery for the Model Y was officially bumped to 315 miles. Crushing it. Musk also noted that “we’re rapidly approaching 400-mile range for the Model S,” so look out for that.
“The Model Y’s design might not have broken the internet like the Cybertruck did during its unveil, but with its competitive pricing and range, it has the potential to be Tesla’s best-selling vehicle,” wrote Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at automotive analysis firm Edmunds, wrote in an email.
Despite all the excitement over Tesla as a functional car company, it still dropped more than 25 percent in earnings, down to $105 million in profit from $140 million the previous year.
Still, Musk was gung-ho about the upcoming car.
“We’ll go as fast as we can with Model Y and make sure it’s a great product.”
There’s a lot riding on the Model Y.