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Tesla has quietly added a new version of the Model Y to its US configurator. This one has a single rear-mounted motor, lists for $43,990, and has a stated range of 260 miles. The company offered a single-motor standard range Model Y shortly after that car was introduced, but it was quickly withdrawn from production, presumably because Elon Musk found its range — around 240 miles — too short for his liking.

There’s more good news. Tesla says the standard range RWD model qualifies for the full federal EV tax credit of $7,500, making the effective price of the RWD version just $36,490. For all those EV haters who complain electric cars are too expensive, consider this: The most popular Chevy Blazer — the 2 LT — has an MSRP of $36,495. The Blazer is roughly comparable in size to the Model Y.

The Model Y Is The Same But Different In Other Markets

A Tesla Model Y built in Shanghai looks pretty much like a Model Y built in Fremont, Austin, or Grünhiede, but there are subtle differences.

The US version has a listed top speed of 135 miles per hour and gets from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The single-motor RWD Model Y manufactured in Shanghai does the 0-to-100 km/h sprint in 5.9 seconds after a recent upgrade. Previously, the same feat took 6.9 seconds. According to The Driven, the improvement may be due to a new motor fitted to the rear drive car. You can slice and dice the data any way you like, but the fact remains the US-spec car is a tick of the watch slower than its Chinese cousin.

The new RWD version will be available in Canada and Mexico as well. Tesla already offers a RWD Model Y in Europe, produced at its factory in Germany.

Now With LFP

The Austin factory was recently shut down for a few weeks for tweaks to the assembly line. Now the factory is back to full operation and, magically, a new, less expensive model appears. Autoblog speculates the new version of the Model Y uses an LFP battery pack.

It is widely known that LFP batteries are cheaper than conventional NMC batteries. But if you want any details from Tesla, you will have to go to Helen Waite for answers. Perhaps the company will offer some insights during its next earnings call, but don’t hold your breath. That’s when we hope to gain some clarity on Tesla’s production plans going forward. A less expensive Model Y could help the company get closer to its goal of producing 1.8 million cars this year.

How Much Range Is Enough?

The new RWD Model Y claims a range of 260 miles, while the dual-motor version is listed as having 330 miles of range. 70 miles less range may seem like a big deal, but is it really? My wife and I plug our Model Y in about once a week. Now, admittedly, we are not commuting 100 miles a day. But someone who does use a car for daily driving of 30 miles a day or less — about the US national average — will find plugging in every 3 to 4 days will work just fine.

Then there is the battery chemistry issue. Most EV owners have accepted the nostrum that they should only charge their cars to 80% on a regular basis in order to maximize battery life. 80% of 330 is 264 miles. But LFP batteries are supposedly more tolerant of being charged to 100%, so owners of the cheaper Model Y may actually have about the same useful range as owners of dual-motor cars for a lot less money.

There is every reason to believe that Tesla will see a significant uptick in sales once the word gets out about the new RWD version. In any event, Tesla is ready to go. It says on its website that customers who order one today can expect to take delivery this month, or November at the latest.

At Teslarati, they are saying the launch of the Model Y RWD “comes at perhaps the worst time for legacy automotive companies. It is affordable, comparable to similar models from competitors, and is perhaps the nail in the coffin, especially for the U.S. market, as it is an affordable car that features some of the best add-ons that EV buyers could need.” We don’t disagree. The Model Y is right in the sweet spot of the market — an SUV with room for 5 and all their stuff. Even after 5 years, it still looks like its from the future, with a shape that is instantly recognizable.

Have You Hugged Your Supercharger Today?

The best part, which we don’t talk about enough, is that every Tesla driver gets access to the Supercharger network when driving on long trips, or short trips for that matter. Everyone else is still staring at their ABRP or PlugShare app trying to find a fast charger that is not broken and is not miles away from their preferred route. Range anxiety is just not a big deal for Tesla owners, because there is almost always a functioning Supercharger available when they need one.

But its more than that. Tell your Tesla where you are going and it will automatically tell you when to stop to recharge and where, what your battery SOC will be when you get there, what it will be when you leave, how far away the next Supercharger is, and what your SOC will be when you arrive at your destination. Range anxiety? Forget about it!

The Takeaway

The Model Y RWD is an important car for Tesla. But there are other vehicles in the pipeline that should reinvigorate sales also. The refreshed Model 3 Highland is now in production in Shanghai and available in Europe. The oft delay and much commented on Cybertruck is allegedly going to start deliveries sometime before the end of this year. (“We’ll see,” said the Zen master.) Then there may be a small stream of Tesla Semis coming along soon as well.

Elon Musk gets plenty of lumps for overpromising and underdeliveriing, but he usually gets there eventually. Right now, his promise of 50% growth in production year after year is under pressure, but maybe 40% or even 30% will be good enough? There are plenty of companies that would be delighted to have that kind of increase in business.

The Model Y RWD may not have the cachet of the Model Y Performance, but it will still blow the doors off just about every production car sold in North America. On a value-per-dollar basis, it’s an absolute winner.


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Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030



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