Tesla has announced that production of its Model Y electric compact SUV has begun, with the first customer deliveries expected in March.
The company’s fourth mainstream model, which was unveiled at its Los Angeles design centre by CEO Elon Musk, was originally expected to start production towards the end of 2020 - a date that was subsequently brought forward to summer 2020 late last year.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk used the company's fourth-quarter financial results to reveal that the all-wheel drive, Long Range version of the electric SUV would have would have an extended range of 315 miles on the EPA test cycle, up from the 280 miles stated at the car's reveal.
The Model Y will be manufactured in the company's Fremont factory in California, not its Gigafactory facility in Reno, Nevada as originally predicted. From 2021, Tesla's Shanghai Gigafactory will also start production for the Chinese market. Production will be gradual, according to Musk, with capacity increased from mid-2020 and an eventual combined target of 500,000 Model 3 and Model Y built per year.
The Model Y takes design cues from both the Model 3 saloon and Model X large SUV, with a glass panoramic roof and optional seven-seat layout. It doesn't feature the gullwing doors found on the more expensive Model X, instead using pillarless doors similar to those of the Model 3 and Model S.
The crossover is around 10% larger than the Model 3 – with which it shares a platform and as many as 75% of its components – putting it close to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC in size. Musk said that the Model Y had “the functionality of an SUV but rides like a sports car”, with a low centre of gravity and a drag coefficient of 0.23Cd.