Elon Musk Releases Long-Awaited Tesla Model Y, But Is it Coming Too Late?

Photo Credit: Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock
March 15, 2019
Updated 1mo ago

By Chloe Aiello

Elon Musk unveiled his long-awaited Tesla Model Y on Thursday in typical, over-the-top fashion. Spectacle aside, tech analyst Ian Wishingrad told Cheddar that Tesla's mid-sized Model Y crossover is the vehicle the market needs right now ー but by the Tesla gets around to releasing it, it may be too late.

"If [Musk] says a deadline, I think we are going to be six months, 12 months late. Maybe he beats the deadline, but more importantly, they said that's not until the end of 2020. We just started 2019 ー this car is needed now," Wishingrad said.

Tesla ($TSLA) unveiled its Model Y crossover during an event in Los Angeles Thursday evening, three years after the unveiling of the mass market Model 3 sedan. With the debut of the Model Y, Musk said he's bringing sexy back ー literally.

Tesla's fleet of Models S, 3, X and Y, finally complete the word "sexy." To hammer home the joke, Musk drove the Model Y onstage to the tune of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy," Cheddar's Alyssa Julya Smith reported from the unveiling. Musk also took a moment to reflect on how far the brand has come and just how far the brand could go.

"Where will Tesla be in 10 years? Mars," Musk laughed. "We will be driving a Tesla on Mars ー I think we actually could."

Wishingrad, who is also the founder of branding and advertising company BigEyedWish, said the Model Y is "exactly what the market is looking for" ー an all-electric, mass market, midsize SUV at a time when SUVs are harder to come by. The Model Y shares about 75 percent of its components with the Model 3, but is about 10 percent larger and costs about 10 percent more, according to Jalopnik. Like Tesla's other models, pricing is tiered. The most basic model starts at $39,000 and climbs to a more souped up version with a starting price of $60,000.

Wishingrad praised the tier system for providing both a "get in the door" price, as well as a price for a car with higher-end features like its "Ludicrous Mode," but said Tesla's famously austere interiors could dissuade some bigger spenders.

"Tesla goes for this very minimal ... futuristic aesthetic. A lot of people tend to like the plush, nice interiors of the German luxury cars they've had that are in the same price range. So the fit and finish of these is not so tight, and they really have to ramp up on that to compete with these other players," he said.

Deliveries for the higher Model Y tiers are expected to begin in fall 2020, whereas the $39,000 Model Y is expected to deliver in spring 2021. Tesla's infamous production delays aside, the distant release date could impact the company's competitive edge.

"If you saw the Super Bowl, Audi started to promote their electric vehicles, the whole Volkswagen group. Everyone is going to come out with them and they are going to spend advertising dollars. His dominance in the space might dwindle quickly," Wishingrad said.

And as competition from other established brands crowds the market, Wishingrad said the startup should expect the years to come to be even crazier than years past ー and 2018 wasn't exactly easy for Musk.

"They are about to have the craziest couple years of their life," he said ー another reason why the Model Y cannot come out soon enough.