Elon Musk’s master plan has always had the Model 3 circled in fat red ink as Tesla’s mega-selling, do-or-die affordable car. But since then, those fickle car buyers out there have been having other ideas and ditching their sedans for crossovers. Although the Model 3 has been selling remarkably well nonetheless, it hasn’t been enough (probably because of its price) to avoid a $700 million loss last quarter. Moreover, the predicament’s been compounded by slipping sales of the more profitable Model S and X (the S is seven years old now, but still going strong, check out our exclusive Model S long-range test) and the headwind of evaporating federal incentives.
Answer? Scribble out that first circle and draw a new one around the next car—the Tesla Model Y. Although it’s based on the Model 3 (75 percent so, Musk says), it’ll land in the absolute sweet spot of the market (crossover) and where people are accustomed to spending a little more. Everything seems hunky-dory then, except for one thing. That sloping roofline that doesn’t look much like today’s crossovers.
So what, then, does a car designer (whose first name isn’t Franz) think of the Tesla Model Y? It just so happens that we know a really good one, Mr. Tom Gale, longtime design maestro at Chrysler and MT‘s sage of style. I dialed Tom’s number:
Kim Reynolds: Hi Tom. So here’s my big question: How would you identify this thing? A tall sedan? Or a crowd-pleasing crossover?
Tom Gale: I don’t see it as a crossover at all. In fact, I think a lot of people are going to miss it on the road. Just today I saw a Model 3, and it really is a testament to how well they’ve evolved the proportions of Tesla’s design. The same is true with the Model Y, but to me, this is just a sedan being taller.