Are you getting the new Tesla Model Y or the old one?
Should you push forward your Model Y delivery date to get these new features?
A lot has been happening in Tesla’s manufacturing processes lately. Two new Gigafactories just started closed production for testing and validation. And it is expected that they deliver their first commercial units this quarter.
We are talking about Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Austin. These two new facilities started construction in 2020 amidst the pandemic, and, although they are not being built as fast as Shanghai did, they are almost ready for mass production.
Tesla’s Model Y will be the leader in sales in 2 years
Berlin and Austin will start production with just one model of Tesla’s product line: the Model Y. This is because Tesla expects the Model Y to be the most popular vehicle in the world by 2023 due to the high demand for SUVs. For reference, in 2020, the top sales vehicle worldwide was the Toyota Corolla which sold an astonishing 1,070,000 vehicles.
Tesla doesn’t disclose separate figures for Model 3 and Model Y, which combined sold, worldwide in 2021, as to Tesla’s press release, 911,208 units, but according to Statista, 411,000 of those were Model Ys. To get to the #1 position, Tesla will have to increase sales by more than 100% in two years. Is this possible?
We know that both, Fremont and Austin, are still ramping up production so we will see an increase in this model for 2022 and 2023. And these two new factories will only produce Model Ys. Also, delivery dates are pushing forward due to the high demand. I bet they can make it.
Improvements in Model Y
For at least a year, rumors have been spreading about the new capabilities and specifications of the Model Y made in Austin and Berlin. It all started at the Battery Day in September 2020, where Elon Musk and Drew Baglino unleashed two huge improvements for future vehicles:
- The one-piece rear casting. Tesla has been acquiring enormous presses to cast the full rear chassis of Model Y in a single piece, improving the manufacturing process by eliminating multiple steps to glue, bolt, and put together the numerous pieces that made the old chassis.
- The 4680 cells and structural battery. It was unveiled that Tesla was working on a test line of a new battery form factor. A wider (46 mm instead of 21 mm) and slightly longer (80 mm instead of 70 mm) tabless battery that could store more energy, deliver it faster, and, most important for Tesla, reduce its cost to half. Also, these cells would be part of a new structural pack that would rely on the cells themselves to make a rigid structure in the center of gravity of the car. They used the simile of an airplane’s fuel tanks where the fuel itself provides stability and rigidity to the wings.
But although these two are the main improvements announced, Tesla has been upgrading other Model Y’s features both in Fremont and Shanghai that will also be present in the units that come out of the new factories:
- A new CPU. In the last months, Tesla has been upgrading the main CPU of their cars to match the new one mounted on the refreshed Model S and X. This is an AMD Ryzen processor that replaces the old Intel Atom. It will provide first-class graphics for video games up to last generation consoles' power.
- Matrix headlights. Recently approved by the US regulators, these new headlights will be able, based on the information provided by the cameras, to keep the high beams on at all times creating “shadows” for other cars so their drivers aren’t dazzled. We recently saw them at the Berlin Gigafest in a demo where they would light the word “Tesla” in front of the car.
- Other minor features have also been announced as a new low voltage 15.5V li-ion battery to replace the standard 12V lead battery, an interior cabin radar, and improvements on safety and materials.
If you are about to take delivery of your new Model Y
So, the question is if these improvements are important enough to push forward your delivery date and see if you get one of those vehicles.
Austin and Berlin are not delivering vehicles yet, so the chances are that either if you live in the US (and get your car delivered from Fremont) or somewhere else (and get your car delivered from Shanghai) you will get the new processor and matrix headlights, but not the 4680 batteries.
Anyway, at first, only cars made in Austin will hold the new battery cells as production lines to make them are not operating yet in the factories and they will be getting the cells from the test line in Keto Road. They have been producing for the last months and recently announced the number one million battery produced.
I don’t think vehicles with the new 4680 cells make a difference at this point. Even if they have a higher energy density, I don’t expect Tesla to make different range versions depending on the type of battery. They might mount a smaller and lighter battery to get the same range.
Also, 2170 cells are a proven technology mounted on hundreds of thousands of cars and we know they are reliable.
Definitively, I wouldn’t turn down my delivery date based on these new specifications as they shouldn’t be a huge improvement from the customer’s point of view. The front and rear casting and the 4680 cells are more advantageous to Tesla’s business than it is for us, customers.
We all thought that this would mean a price decrease as it will be a cost reduction for Tesla, but with the supply constraints Tesla has, it is highly unlikely that the company will lower prices in the short term as I stated in this article.