Tesla launches its first compact SUV, the Model Y

Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated Model Y compact sport-utility vehicle set to release in fall 2020

Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated Model Y compact sport-utility vehicle set to release in fall 2020

This is the Tesla Model Y, the electric carmaker's new compact SUV due out in 2020. "It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports auto", CEO Elon Musk told the audience at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

The Dual-Motor All-Wheel Drive will also offer 280 miles range but with a top speed of 135 mph and a 0-60 of 4.0 seconds. Would the established vehicle makers be as far down the path with their EV plans if it wasn't for Tesla? He correctly predicted the standard version of the Model Y would cost $39,000 and that it may take the company two years to make that version available.

But it's the Model Y's pricing that has Ives and many Tesla supporters excited.

Tesla now has two sedans in its lineup - the high-end Model S and mid-priced Model 3 - plus a costly crossover, the Model X.

Forgo all the extras on the Performance model and you'll start at $55,700, but that still gets you a five-passenger SUV with a 280-mile range and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds. That entry model will follow in the spring of 2021.

Musk has been under fire in recent months for his behavior, his picking fights with the SEC, and the production challenges that have faced Tesla, but taking a step back, it is hard even for the more cynical among us not to be genuinely impressed with what Musk and Tesla have achieved. A more prosaic Standard Range (120mph, 5.9 seconds, 230 miles) will join the other models in 2021. And as you can see by the vehicle's styling, it looks like a Model 3 from almost every angle, only with a taller greenhouse and a hatchback instead of a trunk.

And completing the lineup is the Dual Motor Performance model, also with 450 km of range and also with a release date of next fall, but this time with a trim-topping top speed of 240 km/h and zero-to-100 km/h sprint of 3.5 seconds.

Tesla is now going through hard times, with Musk charged by the SEC with contempt for tweeting "inaccurate and material" information about the company.

In a note to investors on Friday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the new Model Y a "potential game changer".

Based on the success of the Model 3 and the growing popularity of SUVs (which held over 40 per cent of the Australian market at 2018's end according to industry expert V-Facts), it is thought that the Tesla Model Y could sell as many as double that of the Model 3. When Musk unveiled the Model 3 in March 2016, the company was flooded with hundreds of thousands of US$1,000 deposits from customers.

The Model Y is about 10 percent larger than the Model 3. The Standard model of the Model Y will offer the lower number. The long-range model, which starts at $47,000, has a range of up to 300 miles (483 kilometers) on a single charge - less range than the Model 3.

Model Y from the rear.

Latest News