March 15, 2019 by Paul Fosse
During the Tesla Model Y trip I focused on two things. First of all, it is not difficult to produce. Second, it has 3 rows of seats.
Easy to manufacture
In order to be easy to manufacture, Tesla did not have to introduce any difficult-to-manufacture elements, such as the type of an X-mas type door. There is little to be said about it. It is obvious that looking at the car and driving a car, it is very, very similar to model 3 (which I have). The battery and motors can be the same, the steering wheel and the 15-inch screen and the software seem to be the same (with minor modifications). Controlling the radio and climate seems to be the same. Autopilot equipment seems to be the same.
During the test drive, I was told that the front 5 seats were the same as the model 3, with different fixing elements for lifting them. Even the clearly distinct parts, such as the front fenders and doors (because the dimensions are different), look the same to an ordinary observer.
During the previous call, it was found that the model Y and model 3 have ~ 76% of their parts. It seems that 24% of the parts unique to the Y model do not differ much. For example, doors have a clearly different size, but they do not differ in style. This significantly reduces the chance that Model Y sends the company to the production of hell. It also means that it is very likely that Tesla can produce 2 cars on the same production line if it decides to do so. This would allow them to react easily to changes in the relative demand between the model 3 and the Y model. They may have separate lines in the US, just because there is probably no place to produce more cars at the Tesla Fremont plant, but in China and in future gigafactors, Tesla may decide to provide part of the production line or the whole production line.
Why Tesla had to take into account 3 rows of seats
Why do I think that having 3 rows of seats is so important for the Y model? Look at all the other vehicle manufacturers Tesla competes with. Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Volkswagen. How many different vehicle models does each produce if you include their US operations, factories in Europe, and operations in Asia and Latin America? I am guessing that larger companies (such as those mentioned above 5) have close to 100 different vehicle models, and the luxury brands of smaller brands, such as Lexus and BMW, produce at least 20 or 30 different cars and SUVs.
Tesla now only produces 4 vehicle models (and of course not yet producing the Y model), and will be adding a pickup truck and Roadster within a few years after the commercial release of Model Y. The company will also add a smaller, cheaper car or crossover a few years later if everything goes according to plan. So for the next 3 or 4 years, Tesla will have around 7 models.
Elon stated on a recent podcast from ARK Invest that he guesses that he will produce about a million cars in 2021 (S, 3, X, Y and Roadster should be in full production) and about 3 million vehicles a year in 2023 (pickup and maybe a cheaper car should be in production). Tesla wants to become one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world, but it is obvious that in the next year or two it will not design another 95 vehicles. So every vehicle that Tesla creates must serve a wide market. It looks like Tesla has decided on the 4 main versions of Model 3 and the Y model.
- Value model with a competitive range
- Long-range model with industry-leading range and better performance
- All-wheel drive model with even better performance
- An efficient model with amazing performance at a reasonable price
Comparison of Tesla Y models for Toyota and Lexus SUV
Value model The Y model will be competitive in relation to the C-HR and RAV4 models. Long range models and AWD will be competitive for Highlander and 4Runner. It is too small to compete with Sequoia or Land Cruiser. Toyota does not have an SUV that is competitive in relation to the Model Y performance, so thanks to the announced versions of the Y model, Tesla competes with all versions of four Toyota vehicles.
Comparing the Y model with the Lexus line, the value model will be compiled with UX and NX. Long range models and AWD will compete with RX and GX. Once again, the Lexus has nothing competitive compared to the Y model.
Thus, this example shows how using 3 versions of a single car (based on an existing model), Tesla has covered various Toyota SUVs and 4 different Lexus SUVs, and has also produced a performance model that is twice as fast as any Toyota or SUV y Lexus, so it will cut heavily in many high performance cars that make up two brands.
You can see how Tesla saves a huge amount of money by designing so many different cars – designing one car to be incredibly good, and then using it to compete with hundreds of other cars.
Why consumers want 3 rows of seats
I have 3 children (my youngest is 19 years old) and I know many other parents with 2 or 3 children. Why do you need seating for 7 people, if a 5-person family can cover the whole family? Two answers are obvious to me.
First, let my children not kill each other. When I carried my three children on a long trip, they would be in a bad mood, so I put one in the front seat, one in the second row, and the other in the third row. With each child in a different row fought much less.
The second reason is the transfer of many children to school or sport, or anything else as part of a joint journey. Most families have two working parents and if one parent can take 6 children to school in their car, this is a really good thing. I helped organize many shared journeys and we loved parents who had cars that could accommodate more children. I did some carpooling on my Nissan Leaf, but sometimes we had to send two cars to pick up all the kids we had to get home. When we used our Honda Odyssey with seats for 8 people, we could always take all the children to the car without sending two cars.
Model Y 3rd Row
They did not let us ride in the third row at the unveiling party, but I quickly looked at it and it is rather small. I would say that it should be competitive compared to other medium SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander, but it can not be as comfortable as large SUVs, such as Sequoia or the third government minivan.
I had the opportunity to talk to Franz von Holzhausen about the third row. I told him that I felt it was an important feature that was crucial to the success of the Y model. I asked him two specific questions about sitting. I asked if the second row is adjustable, so people in the third row may have more space (I wanted to confirm what I heard from the driver of the Y model). I also asked if he designed them so that they could keep child seats. The answer was yes to both questions. Although I would like to get more details, Franz was very busy and I'm grateful he had time for these two questions. He probably also had to watch out for what he said.
I am glad that my two biggest fears were resolved during the disclosure. If the Y model were a radical departure from the model 3, it would be another "company plant" project. I am convinced that it is so simple that Elon can give a little more responsibility and not feel the need to engage in many activities related to the implementation of the car. Although I think that Elon's contribution is valuable, it is very reminiscent of his life and he can not work 120 hours a week without many bad things.
Model Y may be a great success without seats in the third row, but would leave a huge gap for people who needed more seats, but could never afford the X model. Tesla would have left millions of potential sales on the table for many years until they can to design a vehicle between the Y model and the X model. A room that can be created in such a small crossover is a testimony to the wisdom of designing an electric car that will be electric from the first day and will not attempt to lift the electric drive to a vehicle designed for gas or diesel.
A few days ago I checked the best-selling vehicles in the world and it looks like it drives back and forth between Toyota Corolla and Ford F-150 for around a million vehicles a year. Thanks to Tesla's ability to compete with hundreds of other crossovers in all world markets and Tesla plans to expand Gigafactory 1 and 3 to produce about one million cars a year, it looks like Tesla has the chance to make the Y model the best selling car in the world, at least to time, when their cheaper "Model 2", which will deal with an even larger target market, will overtake it.