The only car that can beat the Model 3, is the Model Y

Tesla’s latest vehicle to enter volume production is the Model Y and the first deliveries will begin in March. The Model Y is an interesting vehicle, offering everything we know and love about Tesla products, but it lands in the most popular vehicle segment, mid-sized SUVs.

Sharing somewhere between 70 and 75% of the same parts as the Model 3, the Model Y offers more space for passengers a larger boot and frunk for more storage, while offering similar levels of amazing performance and only incrementally more expensive.

Tesla believes the Model Y could outsell the Model 3, S and X combined and when we consider the addressable market, it’s easy to see why. According to Statista, 48.9% of the US car sales were in the Crossover/SUV market segments. In Australia, SUV’s were also the highest-selling passenger vehicle type in 2019.

At the Model Y launch event in March 2019, Musk predicted that Tesla would reach the 1 Million vehicle milestone, a majority of which are Model 3s. Having taken what they learned about the production ramp last time, the Model Y ramp should be slightly easy.

As good as the Model 3 is, some people are simply not looking for a sedan. Families with kids, often need 1 or 2 car seats which consume loads of the back seat. There’s also the topic of boot space and part of the reason we love our SUVs, is the extra storage available, making them a great vehicle for a weekend away, or even a week-long holiday.

The Model Y addresses these concerns in a way the Model 3 simply can’t. With seriously impressive safety and performance figures, the Model Y will have no problem ticking the right boxes for family buyers, or just those who prefer a higher driving position.

As we approach customer deliveries, we’ve there’s been plenty of sightings of the Model Y out in the world, testing in real-world conditions. This week we have also seen a Model Y with roof racks and even a bike rack on the back, although it’s unclear if these will be offered as official accessories.

If we take a look at the vehicle configurator (not yet available in Australia), we can see just how similar the car options are to the Model 3. The car comes in Long Range and Performance, with the cheaper SR+ to come later.

The Exterior choices are exactly the same paint colour options, but there are 2 new wheel options, 19″ Gemini and 20″ Induction wheels. The interior is available in black or white and standard familiar things like 1 year included premium connectivity also features with the Model Y.

The main differences are the Chrome delete, replaced by matt black door handles and window lining. There’s also a powered liftgate and optional 7-seat configuration (7 seats not available until 2021). The powered liftgate feels like a response to feedback, but it does make sense, given the requirement for easier access for prams, strollers etc. The additional few inches of ride height would also allow easy entry and exit of the vehicle and for those game enough, to have some mild off-roading.

Autopilot still comes standard and the Full Self-Driving Capability remains an option on the Model Y. If somehow you end up with both a Model 3 and Model Y in the garage, applying FSD to the Model Y probably makes the most sense, given your weekend road trips or holidays with the family are likely to include many more km than your daily commute. Given this, it likely that we’ll see higher attachment rates of FSD with the Model Y.

While some potential Model 3 owners will now buy a Model Y instead, essentially Tesla’s getting the sale regardless. In 2020, the EV competition was expected to be here by now, but Model Y deliveries start next month, while Ford’s Mach-E isn’t due till sometime next year.

The massive touchscreen, the over-the-air update, the Supercharger network, the stunning sound system and potential for this car to drive itself one day are seriously compelling reasons to find a way to overcome that purchase price. We EV’s half the battle is accounting mentally for the dramatic reduction in ongoing maintenance costs.

Expect the Tesla Model Y Long Range edition to start around A$90k, while the same car can be had for US$52,990. A bad exchange rate and that ridiculous luxury car tax are contributing to the high price tag.

Despite being much larger than the Model 3, the performance numbers don’t really suffer that much. The Model Y Performance can shoot from 0-60mph in just 3.5s, just 0.3 slower than the smaller 3. The car is also great with range, with the Long Range version offering an estimated 315 miles (or around 506km).

There’s a really long list of inviting features on the Model Y and there’ll be quite a few families that will be keen to have an all-EV garage, making the Model Y nice and cosey, next to what is likely a Model 3 already in there.

As we’ve seen in the premium sedan market, Tesla is likely to carve out a nice percentage of the SUV segment, but just how much of that massive market, remains to be seen.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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