In Depth

Tesla Model Y 2020: budget electric SUV spied in near-production form

Elon Musk’s next EV completes the ‘S3XY’ line-up. Here’s what we know

Tesla’s next budget electric car, the Model Y, is still a year away from release, but eagled-eyed fans have spotted a development version of the car testing in the wild.

Filmed near Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, the Model Y test vehicle was in near-production form, with no sign of any camouflage whatsoever. 

The video suggests that the production model will be almost indistinguishable from the car shown at the Model Y unveiling in March, as the test vehicle “doesn’t show significant changes”, says Electrek.

It’s the second time the Model Y has been spotted since its public debut six months ago, the website notes. In May, it was spied at a private event in Los Angeles, where it was being trailed by a Model S camera car.

The SUV will form part of a four-car product line-up. After it goes on sale in late 2020, the Tesla range will consist of the flagship Model S saloon and Model X SUV, plus the budget Model 3 four-door and Model Y crossover.

 As Tesla CEO Elon Musk has highlighted on numerous occasions, the budget SUV completes Tesla’s “S3XY” line-up of models. 

The South African-born billionaire had planned to name its entry-level saloon the Model E, but Ford obtained the rights to that name. The company therefore chose Model 3 instead, says Fortune

Here’s the low-down on Tesla’s Model Y: 

Design and interior

New cars often undergo significant changes between the concept phase and the final release. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the Model Y, given that the development cars look identical to the concept shown earlier this year.

The Model Y shares around 75% of its components with the Model 3, says Auto Express, so it comes as little surprise that the new SUV bears a striking resemblance to the budget saloon.  

The grille-less front end of the new car is similar to that of the Model 3 and Model X, as is the coupe-like silhouette and tail-light design.

Musk confirmed on Twitter in March that the Model Y is 10% larger than the Model 3, and it’s clear that the car is indeed marginally bigger than the saloon it’s based on. 

Still, the difference between the Model Y and Model 3 isn’t as substantial as that between the Model X SUV and the Model S saloon.  

Tesla’s minimalistic interior makes its way into the Model Y, complete with a large digital panel in the centre of the dashboard akin to the Model 3’s cabin. The 15in screen is “the control hub for the car”, says Evo, from which drivers manage everything from music to viewing the car’s speedometer.

Buyers also get enough room to seat seven adults and their luggage if they choose the optional third row of seats, the magazine adds.

Battery specs and performance 

Those looking for good battery performance will want to opt for the Long Range version, the first car to arrive when sales open next year.  

Long Range models come with 300 miles of range and are capable of sprinting from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds, says Pistonheads. That time drops to under five seconds on Dual-Motor cars, though 20 miles are shaved off the car’s overall range. 

Dual-Motor Performance are the fast models in the range. This version is capable of 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds before hitting a top speed of 150mph, while the 280 miles of range matches the non-Performance spec Dual-Motor model, the website says.  

UK release date

The Model Y is expected to go on sale in the US near the end of 2020, according to The Sunday Times. Long Range and Performance versions of the car are due to arrive first, while entry-level Standard Range variants won’t reach customers until 2021.

It’s not yet known when Tesla will launch the car in the UK. 


Long Range models will start at around $47,000 (£38,200), says Autocar. A faster Dual-Motor version costing $51,000 (£41,500) will sit above the Long-Range model. Top-spec Dual-Motor Performance versions enter at $60,000 (£48,800), while an entry-level Standard Range model will carry a price tag of $39,000 (£31,700), the magazine says.


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