According to a song by The Eagles, “Things in this life change very slowly, if they ever change at all.” The Model S has been out for 6 years and still the world is waiting on an affordable electric SUV. The wait may soon be over. There are rumors the Tesla Model Y — which will be built on the Model 3 chassis, we are told — will go into production two years from now.
Tesla Model Y Electric SUV
According to Tesla Motors Club, Tesla recently posted this job opening on its website: “The New Programs Engineering, Design Engineer is responsible for designing, developing, and delivering prototype level components and systems for the Tesla Model Y program as well as future Tesla product programs.”
The posting was later removed, but not before automotive journalist Bozi Tatarevic captured it in a screenshot and tweeted about it. The body of the job posting read, “This position requires frequent interaction with the Vehicle Engineering team and Design team using input from Interior, Exterior, BIW, and Closures. This is a mechanical design position where product design expertise and fundamental, first principles approach to engineering are far more important than extensive project engineering or automotive industry-specific experience.”
The posting went on to say the requirements for the successful candidate include “experience in low-volume (10-25k units/year) production.” That last part is a bit puzzling. The Model Y is poised to be the most successful car in history with the possible exception of the Ford Model T and the original Volkswagen Beetle. The entire world is crazy for SUVs. The Tesla Model 3 is a sedan. Nobody is buying sedans today, yet it has over 400,000 reservations. The Model Y could easily double that number. Perhaps the point is just to get the Model Y to low-volume production levels and then go to the next step, but it still seems odd.
Hyundai Kona In Geneva
This past week in Geneva, Hyundai featured its new electric Kona SUV/crossover vehicle. (The Kona also comes with an internal combustion engine in the base model, but no one here cares about that car!) The electric Kona looks to be about the same size as the upcoming Model Y and it features the handsome styling Hyundai has become known for in recent years.
It also offers wireless charging, a nice addition for those who don’t want to be bothered with plugging in charging cables that may get grimy with use. The folks at WiTricity were kind enough to send us some photos of their wireless charging system for the Hyundai Kona as featured in Geneva.
Hyundai says the Kona electric SUV will be available with two batteries — one for those who require less range in their daily travels for less money and another larger battery for drivers who prefer a vehicle with greater range for more money. Prices in the US are expected to start at around $38,000 with availability beginning later this year.
Lynk & Co 01
Lynk & Co is a new division of Geely that may offer an electric SUV called the 01 in the US in the near future. The handsome vehicle is based on the new Volvo XC40 chassis. Geely also owns Volvo Cars and has recently taken a stake in Volvo Trucks. The car is said to have garnered more than 6,000 pre-orders within the first 3 minutes after it was announced in China. The Volvo S90 sedan, built by Geely in China, is on sale now in the US. The 01 is said to offer the highest level of connectivity of any production car. That part remains to be seen.
Byton, another Chinese startup manufacturer, brought its electric SUV to the CES show in Las Vegas this year. Its first offering is larger than the Model Y, Hyundai Kona, or Lynk & Co 01, being closer in size to the Tesla Model X. It also touts its connectivity, but first it will have to build a factory, start production, and actually sell some cars.
Be Careful What You Wish For, Elon
Elon Musk has often said he wants other manufacturers to make compelling electric cars. He is about to get his wish. By the time the Model Y gets here, it will have some serious competitors in the marketplace. Tesla’s biggest challenge will be to get the car into production on time and not monkey around with Elon’s extravagant schemes. The Model X was supposed to be built on the Model S chassis, but by the time it got into production, it shared only 20% of its parts with the sedan.
For those who have long desired an affordable electric SUV, it has been an excessively delayed wait, but it appears that change is finally going to come after all.
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