1st Picture Of A Tesla Model Y (Under Cover)?

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

First of all, if you are Tesla obsessed, I think you’ll immediately recognize that the image below is not brand new. It is a screenshot of an Australian 60 Minutes segment on Tesla that was recorded about 2½ months ago. I’m not sure who circled the car under wraps in that screenshot, but I searched for this image on Google and this is what I found. Incidentally, the car circled in red is precisely the car I want to focus on.

As I shared the other day, Elon recently dropped several nuggets of Tesla intel on us while going on a bit of a tweetstorm. One of the most interesting tweets — actually, the most interesting one, in my opinion — has since been deleted. In it, Elon stated, “there will be a Model 3 and a Model Y. One of the two will.” That was in response to a tweet from AwesomelyOZ that said, “Not gonna lie, I’d sell my soul to for one. Please tell me the Model III crossover will have these doors!”

In case you didn’t follow that, to summarize, Elon said that either the Model 3 or the Model Y would have falcon-wing doors like the Model X has.

Before that tweet, we didn’t really know anything about a Tesla Model Y, except that Tesla originally trademarked the name so that its product lineup would eventually read: S-E-X-Y.

However, Elon had stated that the next-gen, more-affordable Tesla would come in two shapes: as a sedan ~20% shorter than the Model S and as a crossover. Presumably, the Model Y would be that crossover. This is the same as how the Model X is basically the crossover/SUV version of the Model S.

Getting back to that image at the top, there are two cars under wraps. They both look smaller than the Model S and Model X. One seems to have some kind of strange door opening (falcon-wing door?) on one side. You getting the picture?…

Tim Urban of Wait But Why was not long ago invited to visit Tesla headquarters and interview Elon Musk in order to tell the Tesla and SpaceX story to more people. In one of his (super long) articles about the visit, he wrote, “Von Holzhausen¹ showed me a full-size clay car that was simultaneously testing two different possible designs for the upcoming Model 3 by making the two halves of the model different.” Things are looking pretty clear at this point, are they not?

It seems pretty likely to me that the image at the top of this article is either that half-and-half model or at least a full model of one of those options. Whether it’s a clay model with wheels stuck on it or an actual model or prototype made of metal and plastic, who knows? Whatever it is, though, it seems like it is an early version of the Model 3 or the Model Y. I lean towards thinking it’s an early version of the Model Y for a few reasons:

  1. The Model 3 is supposed to be quite a simplistic design, according to Elon, to ensure that they don’t run into trouble ramping up production on a car that is supposed to sell at volumes approximately 10 times larger than the Model S. (Surely, conventional doors are simpler and a more cautious/sensible choice for the Model 3, right?)
  2. If the Model Y is to the Model 3 what the Model X is to the Model S, it seems that the Model Y would be the crossover getting falcon-wing doors, no?
  3. The front of that hidden car circled in the pic at the top seems to have a nose very similar to the nose of the Model X, while the other covered car in the pic seems to have a nose more similar to the Model S. (Granted, I think this is the least important clue of all of these, but it may be relevant.)

I think that’s all the sleuthing I’ve got in me on this one. Your thoughts?

Oh yeah, and now I wonder why Elon deleted that Model Y tweet….

¹Franz von Holzhausen is in charge of design at Tesla Motors.

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70 thoughts on “1st Picture Of A Tesla Model Y (Under Cover)?

  • they look tiny, almost the size of a roadster

    • Here is how it is possible to earn eighty-five bucks hour… After searching for a job that suits me for six months , I started freelancing over this website and today I can not be happier. 3 months have passed since being on my new job and my income is around $5000/a month -Check site Learn more by visiting my profile

    • Yeah, what I was thinking 😀 But I’m not good with scale in pics like that.

  • Any ideas what the white car is in the top right of the picture? Not the one behind screens, but the other one.

  • Funny how the James Bond Octopussy car – bought by Elon Musk if I remember correctly – is on the top right.

    So let’s speculate about an amphibious model U(nderwater)!

      • In the scene where James Bond drives into the ocean, you can almost ‘experience/ feel’ the switch from combustion to electric, as the combustion engine is sealed and the silent electric propulsion takes over. Has that appealed, almost at an unconsious level, to Elon Musk? Is that why he bought the car?

        • From this former Navy submariner, the movie captured the very real visceral electric propulsion sensation quite admirably.

        • Hmm, wow, great catch. 😀 I wouldn’t be surprised. He was apparently starting dates in college with the line, “Do you ever think about electric cars?” 😀

      • By the way – love your site – being a long time reader – I check once or twice everyday – great source of information!

        • I check it more often than that.

        • Me too.
          Many thanx for the fine work.
          –can hardly stand the wait for a real photo of Model III.

          How can I get an invite to the March unveiling? I would have cash in hand for the deposit.

          • Thanks! My understanding on invites is that they go out to previous Signature series buyers… no idea, though, what will be the story with the Model 3 unveiling.

    • Exactly..even more newsworthy than the Model S, X and gigafactory put together 🙂

  • why not the other (the black covered and whitish ones?

    • The white one is the Lotus Esprit James Bond Octopussy car Elon bought for $1 million.

  • The question is whether or not the Model Y is the new Roadster or the crossover version of the Model 3. Not sure that they would need another “model” to make the crossover version of the 3, they’ll undoubtedly use the same skateboard.

    The interesting thing to me is that the gullwing doors could work on either a crossover version of the 3 OR on a new roadster as well. What the order of any of these cars to launch turns out to be is up in the air, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the new roadster was released slightly before the model 3, IF the model 3 gets delayed because of waiting on the full scale of the gigafactory. Model 3 also requires a more thorough, more dense version of the Supercharger network in order to not annoy customers.

    Will be interesting times coming around 2017 for sure, trying to figure out which of these things happens first and what the specs of all these cars are!

  • Now there is the Model Y, another alibi that Musk will use as to why the Model III will be delayed. I have predicted that he will use many alibis to delay the Model III. And you know what else? The “mass-affordable” Model III has now become “more-affordable” Model III. The price has already jumped as I long predicted. Musk is indeed a big disappointment. I’ve been rooting for him to deliver the Model III in 2015, and at an affordable price of $35K before tax credits. But like all the other Tesla cars, the Model III will be delayed because of Model Y, and its price has been raised from Mass-affordable to more affordable! Well, they will be left behind in the mass – affordable long range EV markest that they might abandon it or simply target the mid-scale luxury markets like where the BMW i3 is at the moment. For the rich Tesla Fans, all is well, what do they care if no one else can afford a Tesla.

    • Elon never said the Model 3 will be released in 2015. The Bolt also will not be released this year. The only disappointing thing to me are your lies and made up stuff.

      • Wanna bet? He tweeted about it 3 years before that and that the projected release would be in 2015! There are plenty of cache pages amassed by Google.

    • Oh for goodness’ sake, generating a fever pitch of interest like this is the oldest trick in the book. I wonder if ‘mass’ started out as’mas’, ‘more’ in Spanish?

    • Different models won’t affect the roll out of others.
      Did the Model X delay affect the roll out of the Model S “D” ? Nope.
      And since the doors aren’t new for the Y, no reason to suspect a huge problem.

    • You’re quite the seer! Do you read palms, too? Sorry that Musk isn’t appointing enough for you.

    • “…what do they care if no one else can afford a Tesla.”

      Kinda like Porsche?
      Not Musk.
      His vision is to overturn the entire ICE industry!
      Model III is the key component to the entire car line of the company.

  • “There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y,” Musk responded. “One of the two will.”

    Producing the Model Y means that model 3 won’t be the one or will be delayed. the price of the Model Y hasn’t been announced and it means that Musk can price that one a lot higher, and out of the two, the pricier model Y will be the preferred vehicle, at the sacrifice of the model 3.

  • Falcon doors make no sense on a roadster, but a coupe version could be interesting. Shades of the M-B 300 SL!

  • “the image at the top of this article is either that half-and-half model” or someone forgot to take his toolbox off the roof before they tossed the cover on.

  • Model Y is likely a two passenger sports car. The model 3 comes in two versions, both model 3s and not model 3 and model Y.

    • Huh? That makes zero sense. Tesla has the Roaster… And already has future plans for it… And won’t change the name..

      • SEXY and SEXYR.

        It’s perfect.

      • Well, let’s not be too hasty. The Model 3 sedan won’t have falcon doors, so what did Elon mean by “one of the two will”? This might indeed suggest that the Model 3 will come in two versions, with the CUV version possibly having falcon doors. Then what is Model Y? A sportscar with falcon doors that can be priced to absorb the extra cost might make some sense. In fact, if the X is successful, I think the sportscar falcon doors become likely.

        • If both the sedan and CUV will share a single modle letter… then the Model Y is more likely a pickup truck or electric sports bike… than a 2 seat sports car.
          They’ve got the Roadster already, and they will preserve their legacy namesake. The Model Y will be something new.

          • “The Model Y will be something new”. I agree, but a pickup truck or sports bike won’t have falcon doors. I’m going to guess that the Model 3 CUV variant is un-named as yet, the sports car is the Model Y and it will end up with falcon wing doors. There is a faction within Tesla that really wants to make a sportscar and with the sub-3 second times for the Model S, the sportscar should be really amazing. Per the company mission, “average Joe” electric sedan gets the priority.

          • I’m not convinced that the Model 3 will bear two distinct types, sedan and CUV… the Model S didn’t… and the X is based on the same platform as the S.
            It seems much more likely that the Y will just be the CUV that is based on the 3. This seems much more likely than the Y replacing the Roadster.
            The future Roadster upgrades could easily achieve those performance goals, without creating a new model designation.

          • I could accept your explanation except that Elon said the Model 3 or Y would have the doors. If the Y is the Model 3 CUV variant, then the Model 3 must be the sedan, which can’t have falcon doors. Is it possible that Elon simply misspoke?

          • So a sedan can’t have falcon doors, but a two seater can?
            The smaller sedan can have falcon wing doors, but it makes more sense on the crossover.

          • “…it makes more sense on the crossover.” Agreed.

          • Two versions of Model III = sedan and cuv.
            Model Y = truck.
            Musk specifically said a truck is in the works.

          • I’ve never heard him say that, have only heard the opposite.

    • Where’d you hear “two versions?”
      My sense is with Zach, that like Models S and X, two versions of Model III means it will have a crossover sibling.

      However, I would love a 2-passenger CRX-type version of the Model III for my 200 mile daily commute!

  • Huh? That makes zero sense. Tesla has the Roaster… And already has future plans for it… And won’t change the name.

  • I think the Model 3 is supposed to be 20% smaller than the Model S, not 20% shorter (length?). I went on a wild goose chase trying to figure out how short it would be, and that would make the Model 3 shorter than a Scion FR-S.

    • I hope it’s 20% smaller width-wise at least… It would be impossible to fit a Model S in my super-narrow garage, but I would love to get the 3 if I knew it would fit!

  • falcon wing doors less risky as they’re already engineered and by 3/Y time they’ll have been produced in mass quantities.

    • There are extra costs for falcon wing doors but are they all that expensive?

      The sensors used are likely part of the collision avoidance system (distance to near objects). Other companies are building in self-opening/closing doors and trunks, the price of motors must not be too expensive. Extra hinges and weather stripping – minor cost.

        • Then prove it.

          Quit stealing the covers at night….

          • Haha. Genuine lol, and it gave my wife a genuine lol, too 😀

            (Btw, she’s the one who steals the covers.)

          • Women have inadequate installed insulation. They aren’t LEED ready.

            I’m a one blanket person. My wife uses three on a cool night. On a cold night it’s layers of clothes and hot water bottles.

            (SE Asian imported into a place where it snows.)

          • lol. I started reading this out of context and was thoroughly confused. 😀

            Before reading the last line I typed, “She also comes from a warm climate, right?” 😀

            At least she’s not in Poland.

  • The shape of that door kind of implies to me a compact four or five seater, but with a single falcon wing door that opens to expose both seat rows at once.

    I’m not really a fan of the falcon wing doors, but a single door that opens the whole side would be kind of cool.

    It might not be practical though. It would be harder to contain the dogs and the kids while getting out yourself, and from a woman-alone-at-night-in-a-dark-parking-garage standpoint, seems like a security problem: intruder ingress wide open if you are trying to hurredly jump in the car and lock it against an attacker.

    • Carry a gun and use it if necessary.

      • Or poison gas, and use the biodefense mode.

  • I don’t believe that Model Y is related to Model 3 at all. Y was supposed to be Tesla’s F-150 Pickup Truck Killer, built on it’s own platform…

    • I thought the model Y would be a smaller SUV built on the model 3 platform. Even the model S platform isn’t big enough to replace a full size American pickup.

      • Yeah, I’ve never heard Elon say Tesla would do a pickup truck. Gave a “maybe someday” sort of answer once, iirc. Y = smaller crossover.

  • The circled vehicle in the picture seems to sport falcon wing doors, one door seems to be raised. It’s similar un-circled companion to its immediate left would appear to have conventional doors.

  • Perhaps the design is a single door on each side, but with an opening size between a traditional two door and four door.
    Tesla’s best looking car would be a two door, IMO. Perhaps they’re investigating combining good looks and good rear seat access.
    The safest Model 3 design may not a four door. The safest design may a highly differentiated car that pleases a large number of people. It may be acceptable to build a design that doesn’t work for people needing to contain pets in the back. Tesla will have success with the model 3 gaining just a small part of the total market.
    Perhaps the article image explains Musks apparent rear falcon wing door obsession. His emphasis seems unbalanced if this door technology only applies to the model X.

  • it looks half regular / half convertible

    • “Von Holzhausen¹ showed me a full-size clay car that was simultaneously testing two different possible designs for the upcoming Model 3 by making the two halves of the model different.”

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