Tesla held its annual shareholder meeting on June 6th, 2017, at 2:30pm PST. The meeting included a summary of progress to date as well as a look into the future for the company. A key piece of that message focused on Model Y, which was initially planned to be a compact utility vehicle built on the platform for the Model 3. Elon shared that “We made a mistake designing Model X from the Model S platform,” which resulted in it being shoehorned onto a sub-optimized platform that required some concessions.
Based on that statement, it is clear that Model Y will not be built on the Model 3 platform and will require its own unique platform. This is further supported by Tesla’s decision to build Model Y in a completely new factory at a location that is still being determined. If Model 3 and Model Y were to share the same platform, it would make all the sense in the world to build it at the Fremont factory, since the first part of the production lines could be shared, which would make the production lines more efficient. Anyhow, though, the Fremont factory’s production capacity is apparently expected to max out before Model Y hits production.
Model Y will not be built at the Fremont factory, but it will still get its batteries from the Gigafactory. Elon was presumably referring to Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, so a location west of the Rocky Mountains is likely — though, by no means certain. “There is no way we could do Model Y at Fremont, so it will have to be somewhere else. We will have to transfer some of the things we do at Fremont to the Gigafactory just to do Model 3.”
With Model Y getting its own factory, one wonders how far along this new platform development process is and where Tesla will eventually produce it. Elon noted that Tesla should have just built a car from the car platform (Model S) and its first SUV (Model X) from the ground up like an SUV should be built.
Elon shared that Tesla expects demand for Model Y to exceed demand for Model 3. Model Y will arrive 2 years after Model 3, with Tesla “aiming for that to hit the roads in 2019, approximately.” The longer lead time is due to the note above that it will require a new platform and a new plant. Both of those require lead time that wasn’t in the cards when the plan was for Model Y to share a platform with Model 3 — an unfortunate but understandable date change.
Tesla shared a teaser of the car that suspiciously does not have any mirrors on it. With Model Y arriving presumably after Tesla has achieved legal approval for full self-driving vehicles, it is likely that this could mean that the car will not have a steering wheel either.
Elon dropped a massive hint that the Tesla Semi Truck reveal in late September would be more than just a Semi Truck unveiling.
“There are a few other things I haven’t mentioned here. I just really recommend showing up for the Semi Truck unveiling. Maybe there’s a little more than we’re saying here. Maybe. Could be. Who knows?”
This could be any number of things, but given the context around Model Y, it seems logical that the Model Y prototype might make an appearance.
Just as Tesla took the lessons learned from the overly complex Model X into account with the design of Model 3, Tesla is looking to step its game up yet again with Model Y. Tesla will continue to refine the manufacturing process and improve on the highly automated production of the Tesla Model 3. Tesla is also again looking to new territory — be on the lookout for another factory competition as well as more news about factory operational improvements. With Model Y, Tesla will be looking at reducing the complexity of the vehicle parts in its supply chain as well.
Elon noted that the supply chains for Tesla’s current vehicles span the globe. Parts are sourced from numerous countries across the planet. This means that an economic shakeup or natural disaster on the other side of the planet can impact Fremont’s ability to produce cars and adds unnecessary instability to the company. To mitigate this, Tesla is intentionally planning Model Y with that in mind. It will seek to minimize the complexity and geographical distance over which the supply chain is stretched, which may result in the location of the Model Y factory being somewhat of a surprise. Given the high number of automotive suppliers in Michigan, that could be a logical choice — though, it would require Tesla to ship batteries or rolling battery chassis from the Gigafactory in Nevada to Michigan … or perhaps the new Model Y factory could land somewhere in the middle.
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