Late last night Elon Musk revealed the long anticipated Model Y. Essentially a crossover variant of the Model 3, the Y will be the second least expensive Tesla and the longest range utility in the world.
Several days ago Cadillac did precisely the opposite. Instead of introducing a boundary-pushing vehicle that redefines what a luxury car could be, Cadillac debuted new torque-influenced badges that will adorn most of its products starting with the 2020 model year. And those torque numbers will be in metric.
Is there anything revolutionary about the Model Y? Not really. It basically just translates the Model 3 into a crossover. According to Musk it shares about 75 percent of its components with the 3, including the platform it sits on.
For an extra $3,000, buyers will be able to outfit their Y with an optional set of third row seats. Given its relationship with the 3 the announcement that the Y will boast this feature is a bit surprising. And it’s entirely possible that the move will siphon customers away from the Model X, which also has third row seating. As long as the Y sells in sufficient numbers that won’t really be much of a problem.
The powertrain configurations for the Y will be similar to how Tesla builds its other vehicles. There’s the entry level trim that boasts the lowest range, two dual motor variants, and a long range model. Tesla will probably expand its Y offerings once it is able to lower its manufacturing costs.
If you were hoping for something radical with the Y, I’ve got bad news for you: prepare to be disappointed. The Y can be equipped with the exact same paint and wheels as its smaller sibling. That is not a bad thing. There are no outlandish features or claims that come baked into this crossover. A maturing brand needs debuts like this on a regular basis if it wants to be taken seriously. And Tesla has accomplished that with the introduction of the Y. (Editor’s note: The Y is essentially a high-roof Model 3 with a hatchback)
As for the interior…did you expect anything different? It’s standard Tesla Model 3 minimalism. And if you were curious about cargo capacity, the Y has 66 cubic feet of space behind the first row. The closest internal combustion vehicle with a similar volume is the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander, which sits between the compact and midsize crossover segments and is also available as a three row vehicle. The Outlander has 63.3 cubic feet of volume behind the first row. I highly doubt anyone is cross shopping the Outlander with the Y or vice versa, but if they are, I’d like to meet them. That theoretical human is a very interesting person.
The Y will also debut with “Full Self Driving” capability. This technology will soon be available on the 3, and apparently it will enable the driver to let the car pilot itself on highways and city streets. The newer Teslas will also be able to leave a parking spot and scoot over to the driver provided that person is also in the parking lot.
The Model Y will also be able to take advantage of the latest upgrades to the Tesla charging network. With the rollout of the third iteration of the Supercharger, Tesla users will be able to charge their vehicles faster than ever before. The new charger has a peak output of 250 kW and can charge a Model 3 at a rate of 1,000 miles per hour, which means a 3 could be fully charged in a little under a half hour. The new charger also won’t split power to two different cars when each of them are hooked up to one unit – they’ll both get full power.
At the same media event for the Model Y, Musk also took the opportunity to announce more concrete plans for Gigafactory 3. It is currently being built in Shanghai with the goal of producing battery cells and vehicles. Its total output for both items will match the combined output of the Fremont and Nevada factories. The Shanghai factory is being brought online to produce vehicles for the Chinese market only, but obviously that could change in the future. The new factory is expected to match Fremont’s capacity of 500,000 vehicles per year.
By contrast, Cadillac’s lineup is ho-hum and its future models have not impressed critics. Their plans for an all-electric vehicle are “we’ll have one eventually.” And it seems they’re perpetually trying to impress the cooler European luxury brands by imitating them with harebrained gimmicks no one cares about. The latest Cadillac boondoggle will put badges on its future vehicles that denote their torque. But it won’t be in Ib-ft. Instead, the number will be based on the metric figure, and it will be rounded up to the nearest 50. Americans have historically been allergic to the metric system in the past, but China, which is Cadillac’s biggest market, uses the metric system.
Anyway, this development is not a good sign for the brand. The recent leadership change was supposed to bring about more rational decision making, but it unfortunately seems like the division is still focused on chasing the Europeans in the worst way possible. Cadillac might have a competitive all-electric vehicle in its lineup by the time the Model Y goes on sale in late 2020, but I’m not holding my breath.
“Tesla Model Y: This Is It” – Justin T. Westbrook, Jalopnik
“Tesla unveils Model Y with 300 miles range and 7-seats” – Fred Lambert, Electrek
“Cadillac Is Switching to New Torque-Based Engine Badging” – Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver