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Tesla will soon give the world a look at its next major product as billionaire CEO Elon Musk said the company plans to show off the electric Model Y crossover at an event in Los Angeles later this month.
Coming just days after Musk announced plans to sell a $35,000 base version of the Model 3 electric sedan, something he’d been promising ever since that car’s March 2016 debut, Musk took to Twitter on Sunday to say there’d be a “Model Y unveil event on March 14 LA Design Studio.” The facility is adjacent to SpaceX, the rocket company Musk also leads, in Hawthorne, California.
“Model Y, being an SUV, is about 10% bigger than Model 3, so will cost about 10% more & have slightly less range for the same battery,” he tweeted. “Detailed specs & pricing will be provided, as well as test rides in Y.”
Musk has talked up plans for a crossover smaller than Tesla’s Model X SUV, priced from $88,000, for about five years, though has yet to show what it will look like. In response to questions from some of his 25 million followers on Twitter, he confirmed that the new vehicle would have “normal” doors rather than the complex and troublesome “falcon wing” variety used on the X. He also said that Y would closely resemble Model 3, without providing any images.
The addition of a cheaper battery-powered SUV comes as demand for Tesla’s pricier X, which can cost more than $100,000 with premium options, appears to have cooled. During the company’s January 30 earnings results call he described X as a “Fabergé egg of cars.” “It's an incredible vehicle and probably nothing like it will ever be made again, and maybe it shouldn't.”
Instead, the Model Y is to be produced off the easier-to-build Model 3 platform to ensure simpler, cheaper production. While only about 30% of X was common with Tesla’s Model S, Musk said on the call, about 76% of Model Y will be common with Model 3. He also indicated at that time that rather than being built at Tesla’s auto-assembly plant in Fremont, California, the Y will be made on a new line at the Gigafactory battery plant in Sparks, Nevada.
Musk’s Model Y twitter spree comes a day after SpaceX successfully launched and docked an unmanned Crew Dragon capsule at the International Space Station over the weekend, in preparation to soon begin ferrying human astronauts for NASA in addition to cargo. In between that and Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 news, the company also dug into its funds to make a $920 million payment that due on convertible senior notes that were expiring on March 1.
While Twitter is Musk’s preferred means of public communication, his liberal use of the social media platform also landed him in trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission again last week. The agency asked the federal judge overseeing its settlement reach Musk and Tesla to find him in contempt of the deal (arising from his tweets about taking Tesla private in August 2018) as he’d continued to post material comments about Tesla’s operations without having them reviewed in advance by legal staff as required.
The judge gave him until March 11 to show why is complying with terms of the deal.