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Tonight, Elon Musk will take the stage at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, California, to unveil the Model Y, his electric automaker’s latest model. So far, we don’t know much about the Y, beyond the basics. It will be a small SUV. It will of course be all-electric. And it will be Tesla’s fourth model currently on sale, completing what we’ll call the four sexies—that’s the Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Model Y. (Ford owns the copyright to the name Model E, so ‘3’ had to do.)
At the event, Musk will lay out the car’s specs, special features, and design highlights. Tesla will also offer test rides in the car, though past experience says attendees won’t get behind the wheel themselves—these cars are early prototypes, and the events are open bar. As a bonus, given today’s holiday status, Musk told his Twitter followers that the event will come “with pie.”
Adding an SUV to its lineup is a logical next step for Tesla, which is steadily establishing itself as a mass automaker and fending off new battery-powered challenges from its more established competitors. Car buyers, in America especially, are so enamored of SUVs, that both Ford and GM have recently announced they will no longer build cars for the US, focusing instead on SUVs, crossovers, and pickup trucks. As the young automaker looks to bring in new customers, it’s smart to give the people what they want.
This process started more than a decade ago with the Roadster, a two-seat sports car it used to prove that electric cars can offer compelling performance. (It stopped building the car in 2012, but is preparing a revamped model to arrive next year.) The Model S sedan followed, and then the Model X, an SUV with room for seven. Those were luxury vehicles, often selling for $100,000 or more.
That changed with the Model 3, the small sedan that Tesla had promised for years as the car that would bring electric driving to the masses. It took Tesla a couple of years to work its way through “production hell” and get to a point where it can sell the car for the long-promised $35,000 price point, which it reached just last month. And Tesla is coming off two quarters in which it posted profits, a rare feat for the company.
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