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Tesla Model Y SUV confirmed

Elon Musk has confirmed that Tesla's priority vehicle after the Model 3 will be the Model Y SUV.

Tesla's plan to bring S3XY back has been revealed, with CEO Elon Musk finally confirming the company's mooted small SUV will be named the Model Y, joining the existing Model S, and the already announced Models 3 and X.

While Musk had previously outlined plans to build a smaller SUV based on the Model 3's platform, the Tesla founder confirmed the new model name during an earnings briefing, telling analysts: "To be clear, the priority vehicle development after the Model 3 would be the Model Y, the compact SUV, because that's also a car that we expect to see demand in the 500,000 to one million unit per year level."

The Model Y completes Tesla's cheekily named line-up that, when read together, spells ‘S3XY'.

While little detail has been revealed about the Model Y, it will share its platform with the Model 3, in the same way the larger Model X shares its underpinnings with the Model S. Musk has also previously hinted – in a rapidly deleted Tweet – that the smaller SUV could feature the same falcon-wing doors as the Model X.

Technical details for the Model Y are yet to be released, but it is expected to share the same engine and battery combination as the Model 3, meaning a range of 345km and a 0-100km/h sprint of less than six seconds. Tesla has also confirmed the Model 3 will be equipped with the much-hyped Autopilot and Ludicrous modes, meaning both of which will likely feature on the Model Y, too.

News of the Model Y is likely to spark the same flurry of customer deposits seen after earlier vehicle announcements.

There has been no pricing announcement, but Tesla's existing price structure does drop some hints about what to expect. In the USA, the Model S begins from US$66,000, while the Model X commands an $8,000 premium, with the SUV beginning at US$74,000. That same price gap is applied in Australia, where the Model S begins at $114,100, and the Model X starts at $122,812. Applying that same formula to the Model 3, which starts at US$35,000, would see the Model Y priced at US$43,000. In Australia, the Model 3 is widely expected to come in at around $60,000, which would see the entry-level Model Y priced from approximately $68,000.

While news of the Model Y is likely to spark the same flurry of customer deposits seen after earlier vehicle announcements – the Model 3, revealed in March, has already attracted close to 400,000 pre-orders, the first 115,000 of which were received within 24 hours of its reveal – early adopters are likely to face a considerable wait to have the newest Tesla in their driveway. 

Production for the Model 3 is scheduled to begin in late 2017, and even then only for North America, with right-hand-drive markets, including Australia, further down the waiting list. So the wait for a Model Y could easily extend to 2019 or beyond.

Musk also used the briefing to confirm that another vehicle would be spun from the Model X chassis: a considerably less S3XY mini-bus. While details are scarce, Musk said plans for the mini-bus, and even an electric truck, were well advanced.

"We expect to unveil those for the middle of next year, maybe the next six to nine months type of thing. And then (we would) have a better, more fleshed-out plan for when those would enter production," Musk said.

Based on SUV trends in Australia, this market is a likely candidate.

Tesla Australia spokesperson, Heath Walker, told CarsGuide.com.au that while not officially confirmed for Australia,  the popularity of SUVs in this market makes the Model Y a sure-bet to be offered Down Under.

"All we really know at the moment is that it's a compact SUV, and based on SUV trends in this country, this market is a likely candidate for it," said Tesla Australia spokesperson Heath Walker.

"In the meantime, though, interest in the Model X has been strong, and deliveries are expected to begin by the end of the year."

If the Model Y arrives in Australia for under $70k, would it tempt you away from a Mercedes GLC or Audi Q5? Tell us what you think in the comments below.