The Model Y is Tesla's second SUV, after the Model X. The vehicle will have a range of 300 miles per charge, the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and the capacity to seat seven people, CEO Elon Musk said.
Tesla began allowing customers to reserve the vehicle for a R36,000 deposit after Thursday's event. Three trims are available to reserve: a long-range, rear-wheel-drive trim that starts at R679,000; a long-range, all-wheel-drive trim that starts at R737,000; and an all-wheel-drive performance trim that starts at R563,000.
The long-range, rear-wheel-drive trim has the longest projected range of the three, at 300 miles, while the other two trims have projected ranges of 280 miles. The performance trim will be the fastest of the three, with a top speed of 150 mph and the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, Tesla says.
Tesla's Model 3 sedan, which the automaker began delivering in 2017, has a top range of 325 miles and the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds, depending on the trim. The Model 3 starts at R505,000 in the US.
The Model 3 has 15 cubic feet of cargo space, while the Model Y will have 65 cubic feet of cargo space, Tesla says.
Production for the three available Model Y trims is expected to begin at the end of 2020, Tesla says. Musk said during the event that a standard-range trim will arrive in 2021 and start at R563,000.
During the unveiling event, Musk touted the Model Y's performance, functionality, and safety.
"It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car," Musk said.
Musk said he expects the Model Y will become the safest mid-size SUV.
"Of any mid-size SUV, it will be the one you want," he said.
The Model Y's unveiling comes at a time when Tesla is facing mounting financial pressure and, according to some analysts, a demand problem.
In late February, Tesla announced it was closing most of its stores and moving to an online sales model. At the time, the company said the move would enable it to slash the prices for all of its cars by several percent and roll out the long-promised R505,000 Model 3 sooner than expected.
About a week later, though, Tesla backtracked and said that it would actually keep more stores open and increase the price of its vehicles back to their previous amount. These moves signal the company may be facing some significant headwinds, according to Goldman Sachs analysts.
"In the US, we think the amount of information points to declines in demand for Tesla's higher priced vehicle variants following the start of the phase-out of the Federal Tax credit; and we believe moves by the company to continue to improve its cost structure in order to deliver lower priced vehicles and tap remaining consumer demand corroborate this," Goldman Sachs said to clients in a note earlier this week.
What's more, Goldman analysts said there is also the worry that the reveal of the Model Y could put further pressure on the Model 3 sales because people may opt to wait to purchase the SUV instead of opting for the lower-cost sedan.
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