Sat, Mar 16, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Musk reveals Tesla Model Y to start at US$39,000


The Tesla Inc Model Y crossover electric vehicle is displayed at an unveiling event in Hawthorne, California, yesterday.

The Tesla Inc Model Y crossover electric vehicle is displayed at an unveiling event in Hawthorne, California, yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg

Tesla Inc chief executive officer Elon Musk on Thursday night unveiled a cheaper electric crossover sports utility vehicle (SUV), the Model Y, in a bid to regain momentum after a rough start to the year.

Taking the stage at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California, Musk showed off a blue prototype of the mid-sized SUV, which is about 10 percent roomier than its best-selling sedan. Three higher-end versions of the new vehicle are to start delivery in fall next year, with a standard one available in spring 2021, priced at US$39,000 and equipped with a 370km battery, the company said.

Getting the new vehicle into production quickly would be key for Tesla to build on the momentum of its Model 3, a less expensive sedan that has catapulted the automaker up the sales charts and helped Musk post back-to-back quarterly profits for the first time.

The new Model Y might also help Tesla shift its lineup toward the tastes of US consumers, who are increasingly ditching sedans for bigger crossovers and SUVs.

Only one of the new models was driven onto the stage, where it shared the limelight with other, older vehicles. At the 2016 unveiling of the Model 3, by contrast, Musk showed off three cars and flashed the rising number of customer deposits on screen as they rolled in from people eager to be among the first in line to reserve them.

At the Model Y’s unveiling, Musk said nothing about taking orders or deposits, although Tesla’s Web site allows people to make “fully refundable” pre-order payments of US$2,500.

The Model Y is making its official debut after a rough patch for Tesla and Musk.

Late last month, the company announced it would finally offer a US$35,000 version of the Model 3, although it linked the ability to do so with a plan to close almost all of its stores and pivot to online-only ordering.

This blindsided employees and investors alike, and Tesla backtracked 10 days later, saying in a blog post that more stores would remain open, but vehicle prices would have to rise by about 3 percent on average worldwide.

Meanwhile, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reignited its battle with Musk over his use of Twitter early this year, after the billionaire tweeted about the company’s annual production outlook without clearing the post in advance with a designated in-house lawyer.

The SEC’s next filing in the ongoing saga is due with a federal judge in New York by Tuesday.

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