2021 Tesla Model Y: prices, specs and release date

The forthcoming Tesla Model Y will have a range of up to 314 miles

  • First deliveries of the Model Y are expected later this year
  • Dual Motor AWD model has range of up to 314 miles
  • Prices expected to start from £45,000

The new Tesla Model Y will be capable of up to 314 miles on a single charge in Dual Motor AWD specification. The range was revealed as more specs were published online; they also show that the new car is larger than the Model 3 on which it's based, resulting in more interior space.

Production of the Model Y started at the firm’s factory in Fremont, California last year, and customer deliveries are already underway in North America. 

According to Tesla, buyers from the UK and Europe will have to wait until later in 2021 before the Model Y arrives. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but we expect the car to start at around £45,000 in the UK.

A Tesla financial report previously suggested that the Dual Motor models of the Model Y would be capable of up to 314 miles on a charge. While this range figure is listed as ‘WLTP estimated’ on Tesla’s UK website, it still puts the Model Y comfortably ahead of its closest rivals, including the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric, which are capable of 282 and 278 miles respectively.

Plans to build a combined total of 400,000 examples of the Model 3 and Model Y per year were also confirmed in the report. Tesla predicts that upgrades to production lines at the Fremont facility will allow an eventual increase to 500,000 cars a year.

This number will grow further still when production of the Model Y starts at Tesla’s plant in Shanghai, China. The firm’s European facility, located in Berlin-Brandenberg, Germany, is predicted to start producing cars in 2021.

2021 Tesla Model Y: performance, range and pricing

Tesla is offering Standard Range, Long Range and Performance versions of the Model Y with the option of rear-wheel drive or Dual Motor four-wheel drive on the Long Range cars. The Standard Range models will arrive a little later than the rest in 2021 with a 230-mile range, a 0-60mph time of 5.9s and US pricing at $39,000 (£30,000).

The Long Range and Performance models will arrive first in spring with a $48,000 (£36,000) asking price. The rear-wheel drive version offers a range of 300 miles and can accelerate to 60mph in 5.5 seconds. The more powerful Dual Motor all-wheel drive variant ($52,000) is capable of an estimated range of up to 314 miles with 0-60mph taking only 4.8 seconds.

None of these Model Y variants could be called slow but the Performance derivative has the potential to put some supercars in the shade. Range is quoted at an estimated 298 miles but 0-60mph is all over in 3.5 seconds and prices start from $61,000 (£46,000).

Design, interior and technology

The Tesla Model Y was revealed by Elon Musk at an event in Los Angeles, California, in early 2019. The mid-size SUV joins the Tesla range to sit below the larger Model X SUV and shares its underpinnings with the Model 3 saloon.

As was widely predicted, the Model Y follows the design themes of the rest of the Tesla model range, incorporating elements seen on the Model 3 and Model S executive cars as well as the Model X. The familiar Tesla blanked-off grille and the long curving roofline of the Model X are in evidence, helping deliver a slippery 0.23 drag coefficient and optimum aerodynamic efficiency. There are no party-piece gull-wing doors like the ones on the Model X, though.

The Model Y and Model 3 are said to share around 70% of their parts. The Model Y has a 15mm longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and 56mm wider track (the distance between the left and right wheels).

The Model Y measures in at 4.75m long, 1.92m wide and 1.62m tall, making it 60mm longer, 70mm wider and 183mm taller than the Model 3. It also gets an additional 28mm of ride height, with a total ground clearance of 168mm. Inside, it offers increased space with the second row of seats getting an extra 135mm of legroom and 43mm more headroom.

Tesla has fitted a glass roof to deliver maximum light levels in the cabin. Inside, there’s the option of a seven-seat layout with each seat able to fold flat to boost luggage capacity. The design within the model Y is directly out of the usual Tesla minimalist playbook with many parts lifted directly from the Model 3. That means you get a steering wheel and pedals but virtually everything else is controlled via the large central display screen.

In terms of equipment, even the standard Model Y models come reasonably well-appointed but buyers get the option of upgrading to the Premium Interior that adds 12-way electric front seats, a premium audio system, upgraded satellite navigation with live traffic info and full internet connectivity with in-car music streaming.

All models get automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and a collision warning system, then there’s Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance suite based on a system of external cameras, sensors and radar arrays. It will also be possible to upgrade the Model Y to what Tesla calls Full Self-Driving capability, theoretically allowing the car to drive itself in urban areas and on motorways, although the law currently prevents owners from using the system to its full extent both in the US and the UK.

What does it mean for car buyers?

The Model Y completes Tesla’s planned ‘S3XY’ model line-up joining the existing Models S, 3 and X. It arrives at a time when the rest of the world’s manufacturers are rushing to join Tesla in the electric vehicle market and there’s growing belief that mainstream car buyers could be starting to take electric cars seriously.

Sales of electric cars remain small in Europe and the UK but limited supply is restricting availability with many of the more popular electric models having long waiting lists. As production is ramped-up and more electric car options arrive over the next 18 months, it’s likely that more and more UK buyers will be looking at the option of going electric. In every case, it’s important to look at your car usage and work out if an electric car can fit with your lifestyle.

The Model Y enters the mid-size SUV segment and could be priced close to £36,000 when it arrives in the UK next year with top-spec Performance models closer to £50,000. Existing electric SUV options include the Hyundai Kona and Kia e-Niro at the lower end of that pricing scale while the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron sit above as rivals for the larger Model X.

The announcement that the Dual Motor all-wheel-drive powertrain will be capable of an estimated range of up to 314 miles is significant, as it gives the Model Y a higher range than any of its nearest rivals. Range is likely to be a key consideration for buyers, particularly those considering switching to an electric car from a conventional petrol or diesel car.

If you can't wait, you can get your hands on the Tesla Model 3 right now. Or, if your budget can stretch far enough, the ever-evolving Tesla Model S saloon and Model X SUV are also available.

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