Tesla's Model Y, the automaker's forthcoming smaller SUV, will use a new vehicle platform and will require a new Tesla assembly plant, CEO Elon Musk confirmed at the company's annual shareholder meeting this week in Mountain View, Calif.
While facing some criticism for not going the cost-effective route of basing the new SUV on the coming Model 3, Musk said "we made a mistake" in trying to build the Model X SUV on the platform shared with the Model S sedan. He also said that the Model Y would be designed specifically as an SUV and added that it would incorporate major improvements to allow for new and cheaper manufacturing methods, cutting the capital expenditures required for the new model.
As part of the presentation, the company showed a shadowy teaser image of the Model Y, which seemed, in the little that could be seen, to share some of the Model 3's contours.
Musk said he expects the Model Y SUV, predicted to be smaller and cheaper than the Model X, to be more popular than the $35,000-to-start Model 3 sedan coming this year, thus requiring a new plant. That demand could not be handled at Tesla's sole assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., given the several-hundred-thousand reservations already made for the Model 3 and continued production of the Model S and Model X.
At the meeting, Musk also said the Autopilot features for the cars with second-generation hardware will match the original Autopilot "as early as next week." Tesla had been criticized for a cutback in safety features and recently restored limited automatic emergency braking.