The Tesla Model Y Will Be a Model 3-Based Crossover

Posted on Aug 8 2017 - 5:36am by Lisa Chan

Tesla’s next passenger vehicle under development, the Model Y compact crossover, will be built on the platform and underpinnings of the California automaker’s much hyped Model 3 sedan, CEO Elon Musk has confirmed.

Tesla Model Y

“Upon the council of my executive team . . . who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity—much appreciated—the Model Y will in fact be using substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster,” said Musk in yesterday’s quarterly financial call. Musk also acknowledged that the SUV market is larger than the sedan market and that there are customers who would prefer such a vehicle.

It’s quite an about-face from three months ago, when Musk said that the Model Y crossover would be built on an entirely new architecture rather than with existing underpinnings from the brand’s other models. And prior to that he’d alluded to something grander: that the Model Y also would have the Model X’s Falcon Wing doors.

Adhering to the Model 3 underpinnings as much as possible would mean that the Model Y (which still might be called something else in production) will most likely inherit the sedan’s 113.2-inch wheelbase as well as its 184.8-inch length and 72.8-inch width, give or take a couple of inches. It would have both a taller body and a higher ride height than the Model 3. With those exterior dimensions, the Y would be sized very close to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, and Mercedes-Benz GLC, along with top mainstream models such as the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.
You Ready for a Lifted, Rugged Model 3?

“We’re going to aim for maximum carryover,” Musk later reiterated about the Model Y and the Model 3, but he added that Tesla is still looking to incorporate more advanced electrical architecture for a future product update. That would do away with the old 12-volt accessory circuit and move to a new-generation high-speed data bus, reducing the amount of wiring to just 100 meters total, from about three kilometers in the Model S and 1.5 kilometers in the Model 3.

Musk has been known to set his sights so high that it complicates vehicle launches. The Falcon Wing doors on the Model X (shown below) are one such example—and a debacle for which Musk himself takes the blame. Likewise, moving the Model Y to a completely different electrical architecture likely would require working closely with suppliers to get countless new components functioning together under a new communication standard and higher voltage.

Some of Tesla’s previous issues may have been partly due to not being taken seriously enough by suppliers, as Musk had hinted in the past. “What’s great about the Model 3 is we have the A supplier and the A team at the A supplier. I can’t tell you how important this is—it makes a massive difference,” he said of the process of bringing the Model 3 to market.

If the launch of the Model 3 is as smooth as Musk hopes, having shared components between the Model Y and the Model 3 could do more than just speed up the development process for the crossover. It could justify a second assembly plant, perhaps, or bring more cashflow for the automaker, which could be used for some of the future projects featured in Musk’s Master Plan, Part Deux. Roadsters, pickups, and semis, perhaps?