Tesla prepares launch of a cheaper Model Y electric SUV

Tesla is apparently preparing to launch a cheaper version of the Model Y electric SUV, according to an update to its online configurator.

In 2022, Tesla’s vehicle lineup remained primarily unchanged in North America.

It’s expected to shake up a bit in 2023, especially with the new federal tax credit for electric vehicles potentially incentivizing some changes.

For example, outside of North America, Tesla sells a cheaper rear-wheel-drive and shorter-range version of the Model Y. It’s an extremely popular option, but the automaker has refused to introduce it – or at least keep it – for the North American market.

Tesla actually briefly offered the cheaper Model Y in North America in 2021, but it removed the option from the configurator with CEO Elon Musk saying that he didn’t like the shorter range. However, Tesla continued selling the vehicle in Europe and Asia.

In North America, Tesla also offered the Model Y with 4680 cells built at Gigafactory Texas. The vehicle still had a dual motor all-wheel-drive powertrain, but the new battery pack resulted in 279 miles (449 km) of range.

In comparison, the current long-range Model Y has 330 miles of EPA-rated range.

However, this version of the Model Y has never appeared in Tesla’s Model Y configurator as it was only offered to Tesla employees or as a direct offer to some customers who had ordered a Model Y.

Now several Tesla configurator code trackers are reporting that the automaker has added a new configuration of the Model Y in the backend that seems to match this Model Y AWD with 4680 cells.

The new Model Y is listed at $61,990, which is also the price that Tesla used to offer the Model Y with 4680 cells. It’s also listed as a dual motor AWD version.

For now, the vehicle is only in the source code of the configurator and can’t be selected by buyers.

The new vehicle appears in the code just as Tesla confirmed that it is now producing enough 4680 battery cells to build over 1,000 Model Y vehicles per week.

Electrek’s Take

Top comment by CMG30

Liked by 23 people

Tesla now has the tricky task of unwinding the string of price hikes to re-balance supply and demand. Simply dropping the prices on the current models is going to tick off prior customers as well as undercut their used car prices. It would make sense that one strategy is to come up with slightly different models that could be priced slightly lower.

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As we reported last week, the update from the US Treasury about the vehicles eligible for the new $7,500 federal credit has raised some questions about what it takes to be considered an SUV and have the $80,000 MSRP limit on an EV model to get the credit.

The Model Y only gets the limit with the seven-seat configuration and based on other models getting and not getting the limit, it may have to do with the gross vehicle weight.

Tesla might have to change a few things to make sure its buyers can take advantage of the credit on the Model Y.

But either way, Tesla needs a cheaper version of the Model Y to sell in North America. Now this one isn’t much cheaper, but it’s a start.

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