Tesla’s launch of the Model Y Rear-Wheel-Drive (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.
Last night, Tesla launched the Model Y RWD on its website, and with federal and local incentives, it could cost buyers under $31,000 as it qualifies for the full EV tax credit from the government. Packing the LFP, or lithium iron phosphate battery pack, Tesla has brought its most popular car to an affordable level with reasonable range ratings and more than acceptable performance metrics.
While it was a timely offering in terms of Tesla’s trek for 1.8 million deliveries this year after a lackluster Q3 due to factory upgrades that required production pauses, this vehicle offers the automaker two things:
- A new mode of demand for the Model Y, especially in the U.S. market, where it has already been extremely popular
- Another edge over the already-frustrated competition, which is falling further behind due to a number of factors, and has already thrown in the towel to Tesla and will use its Superchargers next year because developing infrastructure is difficult
Of course, the Model Y RWD is not the best crossover out there. We would likely reserve this for the Long Range version of the Model Y, which offers more travel distance per charge and better performance metrics.
That’s not to say that the Model Y RWD is something worth overlooking because, for many, it is the answer to the question they’ve had: how will I put the most popular EV in the U.S. in my driveway for roughly $35,000?
This was Tesla’s answer.
Obviously, there is no shortage of people who are at least thinking about buying an EV. Recent figures have shown that Tesla commands the U.S. EV market by a considerable margin, and although it seems there is still plenty of demand for its vehicles in the North American market, Tesla still has to find ways to cater to customers who need certain vehicles at certain price points.
The Long Range Model Y is an ideal car for most people and families. Crossovers are an extremely sought-after body style in this market, but they come at a price. Give someone who needs a crossover EV at a price they cannot pass up and pack on the world’s most expansive charging network on top of it, and it is simply not a matter of whether people will buy it. It’s a matter of when, and how many will be bought.
It is no secret that people may be somewhat worried that Tesla may not reach its 1.8 million unit delivery goal for the year. Even with the Model 3+, or Highland, whatever you want to call it, starting deliveries this month in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and the Cybertruck likely beginning deliveries soon, there still needs to be some movement in the U.S. market.
Cybertruck deliveries are likely going to be somewhat small for the last quarter of the year, and Highland will contribute plenty of units to the Q4 figures, but the U.S. is still where Tesla dominates the most, but neither of these vehicles are available here yet.
Enter the Model Y RWD as the nail in the coffin for companies that are either striking due to UAW demands for better wages and benefits, or are struggling with EV software and quality, or just an overall lack of awareness in terms of the auto market.
Yes, there are some people out there that have no interest in an EV. However, there are plenty that are. Ford, GM, and Stellantis are not building any in the U.S. currently because of the UAW strike, Volkswagen may have some things to offer, but it hasn’t chosen to adopt the NACS charging connector to gain access to the Supercharger network. Hyundai is still early in its EV venture, and the IONIQ is certainly an attractive option, but the Model Y RWD will trump it because of its price and Tesla’s overall advantages, including charging and overall EV prowess.
We have talked plenty about nails in the coffin for EV makers before, but with a new demand trigger with the Model Y RWD for Tesla and Detroit pausing EV production while the terms of a new UAW contract get worked out, this is spelling nothing but trouble for Tesla’s competitors.
The Model Y RWD has opened a new can of worms for competitors to try and combat. Right now, at least in the U.S., it’s Tesla’s world, and competitors are just living in it.
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