Tesla Model Y: Rumor or Not?

Updated on May 9, 2016

If you are one of Elon Musk's 2.7 million Twitter followers, perhaps you caught a quick glimpse of the Tesla CEO's recent hints about the potential for a Tesla Model Y, which could be Tesla's next crossover vehicle, before the mention vanished.

Last week, Musk tweeted in response to a follower who inquired about the design of the upcoming Model 3 — namely asking if it would be equipped with the falcon wing doors found on the Model X, which went on sale last week. Falcon wing doors harken back to the original gull wing doors first implemented on the 1952 Mercedes-Benz SL; Tesla's updated version is designed to make it easier to get in and out of the car (and it's a look long favored by car enthusiasts).

"There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y. One of the two will," Musk tweeted. The tweet was promptly deleted, but not before Tech Insider captured a screen shot of the mention.

The First Rule of Tesla's Model Y Is: You Don't Talk About Model Y

Relatively speaking, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) has always been pretty forthright about its product roadmap and general direction. It all dates back to Elon Musk's 2006 blog post about the company's top-down approach, which was well before the company had ever even launched a vehicle. Here we are a decade later, and Tesla has now launched three vehicles and is currently building its third vehicle platform. The important Model 3 will be built on this newest platform.

Automotive platforms are designed to produce numerous vehicles on the same platform. Over the years, Tesla has referenced a crossover SUV that would be built on this platform, even directly calling it the "Model Y" at various points in time to complete its S-3-X-Y product lineup. But Tesla doesn't talk about the Model Y anymore.

You'll note that the crossover reference is now gone. It would seem that Tesla has made a concerted effort to not discuss the Model Y going forward.

What gives?
More than likely, this is meant to focus everyone's attention on the Model 3, including internal development resources. It's also possibly an attempt to limit any potential Osborne Effect, where pre-announcing future products too early can hurt demand for current products.

While technically not a "current" product, the Model 3 is easily the most important car to Tesla right now from an investing perspective since Tesla's premium valuation is based on its ability to significantly grow unit volumes over the next four to five years. Tesla is targeting 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020, and that only happens if Model 3 is a success.

At the same time, America loves crossovers and SUVs (as do traditional automakers since it's also a very profitable segment). Bar none, crossovers were the most popular vehicle category in the U.S. in February at over 354,000 units sold. Many consumers are anxiously awaiting an affordable Tesla, but it's safe to say that a large fraction of those prospective buyers would prefer a crossover to a sedan (like the Model 3). Disclosing that the Model Y is on the horizon might keep them on the sidelines.

Tesla also has a reputation for leaking from the top. Musk has never shied away from media attention, and has even acknowledged that he causes trouble for his PR team by sometimes spilling the beans too early on major announcements. Looks like he's now trying to exercise some restraint.

Most important, the Model Y should still be in the pipeline, even if Tesla won't openly acknowledge it anymore, although your guess is as good as mine as to timing. I wonder what the second rule about Model Y is...

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Drifting TESLA Model S

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is famous for tweeting bits of key product and company information.

Looks like he's done it again, referring to a 'Model Y' that may have falcon doors as one of two future products, the other being the Model 3 affordable sedan Tesla plans to put into production late in 2017.

The fact that Musk's tweets have since been deleted makes the whole thing even more mysterious.

The story comes via Tech Insider, which has a screen capture of Musk's deleted 'Model Y' tweet.

A user had asked if "a Model 3 crossover would have those doors" following Musk's tweet with a video of the Model X falcon doors in operation.

"There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y," Musk responded. "One of the two will."

The story comes via Tech Insider, which has a screen capture of Musk's deleted 'Model Y' tweet.

A user had asked if "a Model 3 crossover would have those doors" following Musk's tweet with a video of the Model X falcon doors in operation.

"There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y," Musk responded. "One of the two will."

We would suspect that the Tesla Model Y is simply the model name for the crossover built on the same platform as the Model 3.

Carmakers like to have coherent naming structures, so Model X as the large AWD crossover and Model Y as the small one would make sense.

Tesla may have liked to do the same with its sedan names, but "Model T" is a Ford trademark--and, it turned out, so is "Model E," the company's choice for naming its future smaller, more affordable sedan model.

The ultimate decision was to name it Model 3 (sometimes written Model III), which at least aligns with that car's position as the third generation of Tesla electric cars.

Tesla has said it will unveil a concept of the Model 3 car in the spring of 2016, and hopes to start production late in 2017, though it's not likely to be produced in high volumes immediately.

It could take until 2020 for Tesla Motors to reach a production rate of 500,000 cars a year, Musk has said.

And that assumes that the Model X production ramp-up goes smoothly and that the company can be building as many as 2,000 cars a week by the end of this year.

Thus far, Tesla has not managed to launch any of its vehicles on their originally announced schedules, so the industry will follow the saga of the Model 3 with interest.

Meanwhile, it appears that Musk has said that a future, more affordable electric utility wagon vehicle will be named Model Y--and will have the characteristic falcon doors.

Tesla Model 3: Everything You Want to Know

People lined up to order the Tesla Model 3 before the company even unveiled it. But even after the electric car took the stage March 31, many details were unclear. Now, we have more answers—thanks in part to tweets from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

We have combed the company's press information and Tesla’s social media to create this FAQ, which we will continue to update as more information becomes available.
When Will the Model 3 Be Available?

Tesla says Model 3 production should start in late 2017. But Tesla has a habit of announcing ambitious goals, and the public and press getting overly excited by them. Starting production usually means small batches of "pilot" production that are used for regulatory purposes and are not for public sale. Ramping up to mass production at an annualized rate of 200,000 vehicles will take several months at least—meaning it should be early 2018 before deliveries occur en masse.
How Much Will It Cost?

Tesla has said the base-spec Model 3 will cost around $35,000 before federal and state tax credits (more on that later). As we've found with Teslas, though, the price accelerates quickly when you need more functionality or power.
If I Order One Today, When Would It Arrive?

Within 48 hours of the March 31 unveil, there were at least 276,000 orders and climbing, each order requiring a $1,000 deposit. That means—based on Tesla production forecasts—if you placed an order today, your Model 3 likely won't be ready until well into 2019.

For the typical car buyer, we advise holding off being the first on your block to own an all-new car. There are almost always quality glitches with new models on the assembly line, and the Tesla Model S has been no exception.

But if you ordered now, you would receive yours well into the second year of production. Any initial teething problems should be identified and solved by then. That said, it still takes commitment to reserve a product you don’t know all the details about, including when it will roll into your driveway.
Will the Model 3 Use Front-, Rear-, or All-Wheel-Drive?

Like the Model S, the Model 3 will offer both rear- and all-wheel drive using either a single- or dual-motor setup.
Does the 0-60 MPH Time of Just Under Six Seconds Apply to the Dual-Motor Cars?

The 0-60 mph times for the base-model, single-motor car are said to be less than six seconds. But the dual-motor cars should be significantly quicker. We rode shotgun in a dual-motor Model 3 at the launch event, and our 0-60 estimate was under five seconds. Whether it will have a Ludicrous Mode or go to "Maximum Plaid" remains to be seen.
Is the Front-End Styling Finalized?

Many who have seen the Model 3 have criticized the grille-free, duck-billed monochromatic front end (which no doubt contributes to the car's aerodynamics). Musk has said the front end of the car will receive "some tweaking."
Will the Model 3 Be a Hatchback?

Despite its similarity in shape to the Model S, the Model 3 will be a sedan with a traditional trunk opening. Musk tweeted that, in order to provide the necessary rear seat headroom (under Model 3's massive glass rear roof), the cross-car support beam had to be moved to the base of the rear window, which precludes the use of a hatchback. In response to Twitter comments about the small size of the opening, Musk said it would be enlarged for the production vehicles.


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    • profile image

      Patric 22 months ago

      There are no such things like rumors from Tesla, they are just teasing us because something is going on inside. 100%

    • profile image

      Vance 22 months ago

      Something is plotting inside Tesla headquarters, hope it's new Y model.

    • profile image

      Nicky 22 months ago

      I sincerely hope it will not be just a rumor

    • profile image

      Rip Hunter 22 months ago

      If that last photo is legit, then I like the look of the Tesla Y.

    • profile image

      Olivia 22 months ago

      I'm sure that Elon will make this rumor become reality really soon...We just have to wait for it very patiently!