Tesla’s Model Y Is A Compelling Compact Electric Crossover, But Its Competition Will Be Too

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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In case you missed it, Tesla unveiled its new Model Y compact crossover last week. This just on the heels of its CEO, Elon Musk, announcing it would be closing all its stores then reversing course shortly thereafter. It’s been a busy and turbulent couple of weeks for the all-electric brand to say the least.

Let’s put the firm’s financial drama aside for a moment, however, and look at bit more closely at its latest car. It might be the most compelling Tesla yet.

Model Y

The Model Y is based upon the hot-selling Model 3 sedan but its exterior mimics that of the brand’s large SUV, the Model X.

The compact crossover comes in three trim levels: Real-Wheel Drive Long Range, Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive Long Range, and Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive Performance. For brevity sake, you can consider them: Standard, Long Range, and Performance.

In our coverage of its reveal, we dug into the Model Y details. So we will skip rehashing that. Instead, let’s dig into building one.

Tesla Model Y in Red Multi-Coat. So far it looks as though the styling can best be described as polarizing, like most things Tesla. It seems as though everything about the company has become love-it or hate-it.

 

Jumping on the Tesla online configurator, we selected the Performance model at $55,700. We specified the $2,500 Red Multi-Coat paint (with standard 20-inch performance wheels). We chose the Seven Seat Interior trim with Black and White interior for an additional $4,000 ($1,000 for Black and White; $3,000 for Seven Seat). Then we added Autopilot for $3,000 and ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ for an additional $5,000). Our total came out to $74,500 for our loaded Model Y.

For that money we get a compact seven-seater crossover that can do 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, reach a top speed of 150 mph, and achieve an EPA-estimated 280 miles per charge.

The competition

Although the Model Y starts at a not-insignificant $42,700, our $74,500 build is surprisingly expensive. That said, it’s not wholly out of the realm of reality for a would-be luxury EV crossover.

Perhaps the closest competitor to the Model Y on sale right now is the Jaguar I-PACE, which starts at $69,500. It can do 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and is rated at 234 miles per charge.

While it slightly slower and can’t go as far on a charge, at least on paper, it will be less expensive. That’s because Tesla has no federal tax credits remaining. Jaguar, however, is privy to the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Tesla Model Y Black and White interior. Yes, it’s a bit sparse – but in the same way as those hipster coffee shops that look more like operating rooms than restaurants.

 

As for the interior, the I-PACE certainly can’t seat seven like our Model Y. That said, based upon how diminutive the Model 3 interior is, the Model Y’s rear five passengers might find it a bit cramped. We’ll serve final judgment in that department for when we get our hands on one, though.

Also, and this is up to personal opinion, but the Jag’s interior is, well, a real interior — in the traditional automotive interior sense. The Model Y’s is a couple seats and a screen. Some buyers will prefer the sparse interior motif, though. To each their own.

2021

Complaints on interior design and nonexistent federal tax credits aside, the big shadow looming over the Model Y is its timeline. On the configurator, Tesla repeatedly reminds buyers (in small, grey type) that these cars aren’t slated to be built until 2021. Heck, Tesla insiders say that the company doesn’t yet know where the Model Y will be built, according to reports.

To make matters worse, even when it does have a production facility lined up, Tesla has never once met its own production or delivery timelines. Even if Tesla does build some Model Ys in 2021, large-scale deliveries won’t likely occur until 2022.

By then, Model Y will have some serious competition to deal with.

Later this year, Audi will have its e-tron quattro model in showrooms. It will cost $75,795 (before $7,500 federal tax credit) and be good for around 220 miles. That said, the e-tron quattro is larger than Model Y and more of a competitor to Model X.

The Jaguar I-PACE comes from a car company with nearly of century of history, and it shows. Both inside and out, it is closer to a conventional engine-powered car, we aren’t making any judgement here either way.

 

Next year Mercedes will have its EQC 400 in dealer showrooms. It’ll start around $70,000 (before tax credit) and likely do around 250 miles per charge. Again, it’ll be bigger than Model Y.

That same year, BMW will put the iX3 on sale. It’s estimated to start around $55,000 (before federal tax credit).

And that’s just the luxury competition. Digging into the non-luxury offerings, the field gets much broader. These include the already on sale Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, and Nissan LEAF — all of which are technically compact crossovers and start around $37,000.

So if you’re an aspiring compact electric crossover driver and you’re not necessarily married to Tesla or keen to wait three years for your car to be delivered, you have some options — both now and in the years to come.

Tesla’s Model 3, Model S, and Model X have all done very well for themselves. That was with a comparably empty EV market. With some compelling offerings from traditional automakers coming to showrooms, Tesla has a real battle for EV supremacy on its hands.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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