March 15, 2019 by Paul Fosse
At Tesla Model Y revealing the event, I was focused on 2 things. First, it is not difficult to manufacture. Second, it has 3 rows of seats.
Easy to manufacture
To be easy to manufacture, Tesla did not need to introduce any hard-made functions, such as the falcon wing doors to model X. Not a lot has to be said about it. It is obvious that you look at the car and ride in the car that it is very, very similar to model 3 (which I own). The battery and motors are likely to be the same, the steering wheel and 15 inch screen and software seem to be the same (with minor changes). The radio and climate control seems to be the same. The autopilot hardware seems to be the same.
I was told on the test that the front seats were the same as model 3, with different mounting tools to raise them. Also, parts that are clearly different, such as the front fenders and the doors (since the dimensions are different), look the same to the informal observer.
It was stated in a previous call that model Y and model 3 divide ~ 76% of their parts. It seems that 24% of the parts that are unique to model Y are not so different. For example, the doors are clearly different in size, but they do not differ in style. This greatly reduces the chance that model Y will send the company to the production of hell. It also means that it is very likely that Tesla can manufacture the two cars on the same production line if they choose to do so. It would allow them to easily respond to changes in relative demand between Model 3 and Model Y. They may have separate lines in the US, just because there is probably no room to manufacture more cars in the Tesla Fremont factory, but in China and in the future gigafactories, Tesla can choose to share parts of the production line or perhaps the entire production line.
Why Tesla would include 3 rows of seats
Photo from Wikipedia
Why do I think I have 3 rows of seating is so important for model Y? Look at all the other vehicle manufacturers that Tesla is competing with. Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Volkswagen. How many different vehicle models do each of them produce, if you include their US operations, European factories and Asian and Latin American businesses? I would guess that the larger companies (like the 5 listed above) are close to 100 different vehicle models, and the smaller brands of luxury brands like Lexus and BMW make at least 20 or 30 different cars and SUVs.
Only Tesla makes 4 vehicle models now (and it does not even model Y yet), and will add the pickup and Roadster in a few years after the model Y's commercial release. The company will also add a smaller, cheaper car or crossover a few years after it if everything goes as planned. So, for the next 3 or 4 years, Tesla will have about 7 models.
Elon stated on a new podcast with ARK Invest that he guess that they will make about one million cars in 2021 (S, 3, X, Y, and Roadster should be in full production) and about 3 million vehicles per year 2023 (the pickup and perhaps a cheaper car should be in production). Tesla wants to become one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers, but it is obvious that it will not design another 95 vehicles in the next year or two. So, every vehicle that Tesla creates needs to serve a broad market. It seems that Tesla has decided on 4 main versions of model 3 and model Y.
- Value model with competitive range
- Long-range model with industry-leading range and better performance
- All Wheel Drive model with even better performance
- Performance model with thoughtful performance at a reasonable price
Compare Tesla Model Y to Toyota & Lexus SUV
Screenshot from Toyota.com
Model Y value model will be competitive with C -HR and RAV4. Long Range and AWD models will be competitive with Highlander and 4Runner. It is just too small to compete with Sequoia or Land Cruiser. Toyota does not have an SUV that is competitive against the Model Y Performance, so with the model Y versions being announced, Tesla competes a lot with all versions of the four Toyota cars.
Screen recording from Lexus.com  Comparison of model Y to the Lexus range, the value model will control UX and NX. The Long Range and AWD models will compete with RX and GX. Again, Lexus has no decisive competition with the Model Y Performance.
So this example shows how with 3 versions of a single car (based on an existing model), Tesla covered for various Toyota SUVs and 4 different Lexus SUVs and also produced a performance model that is about twice as fast as any of Toyota and the Lexus SUV, so it will cut heavily in the many performance cars the two brands do.
You can see how Tesla saves a great deal of money designing so many different cars – it designs a car to be incredibly good and uses it to compete with hundreds of other cars.
Why consumers want 3 rows of seats
I have 3 children (my youngest is 19) and know many other parents with 2 or 3 children. Why do you need space for 7 when a 5-seat can cover the whole family? Two answers are obvious to me.
First and foremost, my children should kill each other. When I transported my 3 children on a longer trip they would be grumpy, so I put one in the front seat, one in the 2nd row and one is the 3rd row. With each child in another line, they fought much less.
The second reason is to transport many children to the school or the sport or anything in a car pool. Most families have two parents and if a parent can take 6 children in the school in their car, this is a really good thing. I helped organize many carpools and we loved parents who had cars that could accommodate more children. I did some carpooling in my Nissan Leaf, but sometimes we had to send two cars to pick up all the kids we had to come home. When we used our Honda Odyssey with room for 8, we could always get all the kids in the car without sending two cars.
Model Y 3rd row
Screen capture from Tesla Reveal Video from Tesla.com
Photo from my model Y test trip
Photo from my model Y test trip. You can see that the way for the 2nd row is set, there are only about 2 inches apart between the 2nd row and the 3rd row. The driver said that the adjustment mechanism for the 2nd row seats had been turned off.
They did not let us ride in the 3rd row at the unveiling event, but I got a quick look at it and it is quite small. I would say that it should be competitive with other medium sized SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander, but not even as comfortable as large SUVs such as Sequoia or a miniature third line.
I got the chance to talk to Franz von Holzhausen on the 3rd row. I told him I felt it was an important function that was crucial to the success of model Y. I asked him two specific questions about seating. I asked if the second line was adjustable so that the people in the 3rd row could have more space (I wanted to confirm what I had heard from the model Y driver). I also asked if he had designed them so that they could hold high chairs. The answer was yes to both questions. Although I would have liked more details, Franz was very busy and I am grateful that he had time for the two questions. He was careful to be careful about what he said as well.
I am glad that my two biggest problems were solved in the unveiling. If model Y had been a radical deviation from model 3, it would have been another "bet company" project. I am convinced that it is simple enough that Elon can delegate a little more responsibility and not feel the need to get involved in much expansion of the car. Although I think Elon's entrance is valuable, it takes a heavy fee on his life, and he cannot work 120 hours a week without many bad things happening.
Model Y could be a great success without the third row seating but it would have left a huge gap for people who needed more seats but could never afford model X. Tesla would leave many millions of sales on the table for many years until they could design a vehicle between model Y and model X. The space you can create in such a small crossover is proof of the vision of designing an electric car to be electric from day one and not to try shoe horn an electric driveline in a vehicle designed for a gas or diesel power.  A few days ago, I looked up the best-selling cars in the world and it looks like it's going back and forth between Toyota Corolla and Ford F-150 about one million vehicles a year. With Tesla's ability to be competitive with hundreds of other crossings in all the world's markets and Tesla's plans to expand Gigafactory 1 and 3 to produce about one million cars a year, it seems that Tesla has a chance to make model Y best-selling car In the world, at least until their cheaper "Model 2" addresses an even larger target market, it takes over.