San Francisco - Tesla pulled the covers off its much-awaited Model Y electric crossover vehicle on Thursday, promising that it will be a formidable rival to the new wave of electric SUVs emanating from Europe.
Based on the Model 3 sedan, the Model Y will serve as a more affordable alternative to the current Model X performance SUV.
Chief Executive, South African born Elon Musk, said that the Model Y would first debut in a long-range version that can achieve a claimed range of 482km between charges, priced at $47 000 (R680 000). A 'standard' version, to be available sometime in 2021, would cost $39 000 (R565 000), with a 370km range. The vehicles can be configured to include 7 seats, for an additional $3000 (R4800).
But like many modern EVs, the new crossover promises some driving excitement too, with top models capable of sprinting from zero to 60mph (96km/h) in just 3.5 seconds, according to Tesla.
Following the event, Tesla's website included a page to "design and order" the more expensive, long range version of the vehicle with rear-wheel drive, available next year. Ordering the car requires a $2500 (R36 250) refundable deposit. Interestingly, South Africa is not listed on the order page, although it was listed when the Model 3 was revealed. At this stage it has yet to be fully confirmed whether SA will get the Tesla brand, although late last year Musk did state, in reply to a Tweet, that a Tesla store might open in the country during 2019.