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Is Tesla Model Y an SUV – and doesn't matter?



No one can completely agree on what Tesla Model Y is. Last night, at the great disclosure of what should be the fourth car in the automaker's electric line-up, Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to model Y as a "mid-range SUV"; others have meanwhile claimed that it is actually a compact SUV.

Then there is the "crossover" name, which first became really popular when the launch of Toyota RAV4 back in 1996. Being a crossover is not so much a matter of size, just to mud the definition waters a little more. Instead, it is about having styling cues by an SUV, but based on a passenger car platform from below.

It is certainly possible to describe model Y. After all, it is clearly related to model 3, which is Tesla's compact passenger car. The long-term question, however, is whether model Y is crossover enough .

Expectations of Reality

What Tesla calls an SUV is not necessarily what everyone else is referring to in this way. Model X – which was revealed in the prototype form back in 2012, and in production from 2015 – is called the company as an SUV. But there have been long-standing arguments that it is a dissatisfaction.

Model X, so some would insist, is more like a smoother minivan. The curvy body – just as much a model S sedan enlargement, as model Y is an extension of model 3 – has borrowed the SUV nomenclature, critics simply say that the SUV sells better than the minivans do. A minivan is the old-fashioned car you remember that your parents take you to school. An SUV, however, is the dynamic promise of an active lifestyle (even if you are the furthest along the edge of the Costco parking lot).

Expectations from model Y were therefore quite low in terms of how SUV-inspired its design could be. Sure enough, it looks much closer to model 3 that we usually see now than what may have been hoped for. It's longer, and it has more cargo space, and even the choice of seven places instead of the usual five, but is it an "SUV"?

When aero is your king

Elon Musk clarified Tesla's priorities at the model Y disclosure: aerodynamics are important. When you do an electric car you do not want to compete with air resistance. It requires a smooth body, especially when handling a larger vehicle such as model X or model Y.

The metric there is "Cd" or the drag coefficient. In short, it is the measure of drag resistance of an object in a liquid environment, such as air. Vehicles with low Cd allow air to flow more smoothly over them: they require less energy to move forward than a blocked car or truck.

One of the title figures for model Y is its 0.23 Cd. It is actually lower than the model S & # 39; 0.24, and matches the model 3 where the new crossover is based. That's the key, says Tesla, to model Y, which achieves its figure figures, which clock in as much as 300 miles on a charge from the Long Range model, or 230 miles – still impressive – from the Standard Range version that will follow in 2,021th

The problem is that cars that are slippery through the air do not tend to have the same aesthetic signals as traditional SUVs: the earlier ones are curvy, the latter squared and bulky. Tesla had to make a decision, and it chose engineering science.

Subtle but subtle carefully

True electric offroaders are their own niche. The Rivian works on an entire electric car, for example, while Bollinger goes even further with his Defender-inspired EV. They will undoubtedly find buyers, but they are probably too limited in their audience to deliver the type of sales that Tesla needs model Y to achieve. Even when the Tesla pickup arrives, it may focus more on consumer-friendly features than a vision of off-road robustness inspired by decades of combustion vehicles.

MORE Tesla Model Y first ride

Much has been made of Tesla tackling a huge potential market with model Y. Crossovers and small SUVs are big business right now and Elon Musk & Co. is fully aware that the demand for a cheaper car than the model X – but with similar SUV-esque styling signals – is significant. The question then is whether model Y is enough crossover in its design to win over these buyers.

I suspect the answer is yes. Although purists can claim that the new EV does not exactly match what the official definition is up to that day, the reality is that consumers have different priorities. Model Y is a crossover because Tesla says it is, and because – side by side with model 3 – it's bigger. The differences can be relatively subtle compared to what some car manufacturers do, but not so much that they discourage too much sales.


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