Opinion: Tesla's most important model yet brings few surprises
The Model Y didn’t debut with any gimmicky features – but it didn’t need them, and is a good sign for things to come from Tesla
The Model Y was the reason journalists and fans descended on Tesla’s LA design studio last night (and I set my alarm clock for 2.45am GMT to tune into the live stream), but the car’s unveiling only took up a small portion of the evening.
Elon Musk spent much of his time on stage focusing on how his company had got to this point, laughing with the crowd of gathered employees and owners over his cheeky model naming conventions (S-3-X-Y, what a giggle) and whether a Tesla would soon be driving on Mars. Unveiling the car itself almost felt like an afterthought.
For a company known for attention-grabbing features like ludicrous performance modes and biohazard defence filters, the Model Y could nearly be described as ordinary. The crossover SUV is very much a jacked-up Model 3, with a near-identical interior, similar performance and equally competitive price – but that’s all it needs to be.
It’s now a given that electric cars are a viable alternative to combustion-engined ones, and Tesla produces some of the fastest, longest-range EVs in the industry. The Model Y looks set to continue that trend, so instead of becoming a poster child for even faster 0-60 times, the metal was allowed to speak for itself.
At a time when the appetite for family SUVs is continuing to skyrocket, that will likely be enough to ensure the Model Y quickly becomes Tesla’s most popular model.
It also gave us a sign of Tesla’s maturity as a car maker. When you consider this is a company that only started making cars 11 years ago, the Model Y looks like quite the achievement. As Musk himself puts it: “The idea of creating a car company was stupid. Making an electric car company was stupidity squared.”
The only limiting factor will likely be whether it can avoid repeating the mistakes it made with the Model 3, and produce the car in large enough numbers to satisfy customer demand.