Tesla Rolls Out Electric SUV

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San Francisco - Tesla pulled the covers off its much-awaited Model Y electric crossover vehicle on Thursday, promising that it will be a formidable rival to the new wave of electric SUVs emanating from Europe.

It's fair to say the automaker is up against an entirely different set of hurdles than it was on March 31, 2016.

The Model Y's immediately-recognizable problem is that it looks like it shares over 90% of its parts with the Model 3, rather than the 75% Tesla claims. The Model Y gives Tesla the opportunity to tap into that growing market. A "standard" version, to be available sometime in 2021, would cost $39 000 (R565 000), with a 370km range.

The Model Y will have numerous same features as the Model 3 but will be about 10% bigger. Model 3 production is understood to remain at the company's Fremont California manufacturing plant.

Price aside, Tesla clearly has high hopes for the Model Y. Musk stated he expects the company to "probably do more Y than S, X, and 3 [sales] combined".

There is a cheaper Standard Range model that's slated for 2021.

Musk has been under fire in recent months for his behavior, his picking fights with the SEC, and the production challenges that have faced Tesla, but taking a step back, it is hard even for the more cynical among us not to be genuinely impressed with what Musk and Tesla have achieved.

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

Moving up you have the rear-drive Long Range model - $47,000, 300 miles of range, 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and 130mph. The lingering question, though, is whether the Model Y is crossover enough.

It has a panoramic glass roof keeping it in common with the Model 3, adding to the feeling of space. Though that translates to just £26,400, it's unlikely that the Model Y would make it to British shores without a significant price increase.

Tesla is now going through hard times, with Musk charged by the SEC with contempt for tweeting "inaccurate and material" information about the company. Musk insisted that Model 3 sales would rise dramatically over the next year, making the sorts of optimistic projections that got him in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission when he put them in a tweet. But they're still a fair ways out, with first deliveries of those first three trim levels not expected until the fall of 2020.

"With the same sleek, minimalist dashboard of the Model 3 that does away with the business of instrument clusters so prevalent in traditional vehicles, replaced with the quintessential 15" tablet display, it retains the cool futuristic edge that Tesla has over its competitors.

In October, Musk said "significant progress" had been made on the Model Y and that he had approved the prototype for production in 2020.

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