Something strange is happening in the crossover EV segment. Despite beating the Tesla Model Y to the market, European all-electric SUVs appear to be making way for the Silicon Valley-made disruptor. This shows that while Tesla may be entering the lucrative crossover segment later than its rivals, it will be doing so with a vehicle that does not seem to have a lot of willing challengers.
It should be noted that the Model Y is designed to compete in the auto industry’s most cutthroat segment. Dominated by iconic, hyper-reliable vehicles like the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4, the crossover market is as lucrative as it is competitive. In a way, crossovers are usually bang-for-the-buck cars: larger and more spacious than sedans, and at a price point that does not break the bank.
The Model Y is all these things. With 75% of the vehicle being the same as the Model 3 sedan, the Model Y is coming to the market with all of Tesla’s experience in production and tech that it learned over the past years. Its performance is second to none, with its quickest variant hitting 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. It’s also quite larger than its Model 3 siblings, as it’s capable of seating seven passengers instead of five (provided that the two people on the rear seats are small, of course).
There is no doubt that the Model Y will likely capture a lot of the EV market. Tesla is such a strong force in the EV segment that its entry in the crossover market may be embraced just as well, if not better, than the Model 3. If one were to prepare for the arrival of a competitor then, it would be a great idea to get the jump on the Model Y, beating it to the market and saturating Tesla’s target demographic before the vehicle gets released.
In this sense, Tesla’s rivals somewhat succeeded. Jaguar unveiled the I-PACE way before the wraps were taken off the Model Y. The same was true for the Audi e-tron 55. Each vehicle was released to the market before sightings of Model Y release candidates became the norm. Yet, despite the hype generated for each vehicle and their actual merits, none of these all-electric SUVs put a dent on the US’ all-electric market.
And it’s not for lack of recognition either. The Jaguar I-PACE was so well received that it literally got over 60 awards, making it one of the most highly-decorated production cars in history. The Audi e-tron got its own fair share of fans too. Consumer Reports’ initial impressions of the e-tron were highly-positive, with the organization praising the vehicle for its posh interior and its looks. CR Deputy Content Editor Jon Linkov even remarked that that contrary to the snap of acceleration in Tesla’s electric cars like the Model S, the Audi e-tron has “more of an elegant pull-away.”
Yet, despite these, both the I-PACE and the e-tron have seemingly hit a ceiling. Estimates point to Jaguar selling 2,418 I-Pace in the US this year through November, and Audi selling 4,623 e-tron SUVs. The Tesla Model 3? Around 111,650 in the same period, as per Bloomberg. These sales figures were so stark that recently, Mercedes-Benz announced that the EQC’s release in the US will be delayed by a year. In a way, it appears that two Model Y challengers failed against the Model 3, and one seemed to be all-too-willing to give way for the upcoming vehicle.
This may end up being a costly mistake, especially on Mercedes-Benz’s part. By the time the EQC arrives in the US, the Model Y will likely be on the roads. And if the Model 3’s dominance of the electric car segment is any indication, Tesla might very well be poised to come out on top once more. With Elon Musk and Tesla seemingly being more cautious, understated vehicles like the Model Y, which have so much potential but seemingly receive so little attention, are the most dangerous for competitors.
Granted, one could argue that the I-PACE, the e-tron, and the EQC are more of the more expensive Model X’s competitors considering their prices. While this is true, all three vehicles are actually closer in size to the Model Y than the Model X. Even their interior space are smaller than the X, making them more of a Model Y rival in terms of features and spaciousness.