As we all know, the lines between vehicle classes are completely blurred these days.
While the Tesla Model 3 may be the best thing that ever happened to Tesla, the new American automaker is still struggling, as expected. Perhaps a small crossover or even a pickup truck should have come first? We ask this since the SUV and truck segment in the U.S. is immense, to say the least.
Tesla talked about a Model Y crossover for some time before it finally revealed the concept vehicle. Early on, CEO Elon Musk shared that it would be on an all-new platform. However, over time, the story changed. When the Model Y debuted it came as essentially a raised and enlarged Model 3.
Let's not discount this plan right away, however, since almost every legacy automaker currently builds crossovers on one or more of its car platforms. However, according to Musk, the Model Y is about 75 percent Model 3. Even the cars' look and body style are so much the same that some people have trouble differentiating between the two.
Gallery: 2020 Tesla Model Y
During a recent interview, testing driver Kim Reynolds from Car and Driver asked celebrated Chrysler car designer Tom Gale to chime in about the Tesla Model Y:
"Kim Reynolds: Hi Tom. So here's my big question: How would you identify this thing? A tall sedan? Or a crowd-pleasing crossover?
Tom Gale: I don't see it as a crossover at all. In fact, I think a lot of people are going to miss it on the road. Just today I saw a Model 3, and it really is a testament to how well they've evolved the proportions of Tesla's design. The same is true with the Model Y, but to me, this is just a sedan being taller."
Gale says he would have loved to see Tesla really put its design efforts into play here. However, he does realize the Silicon Valley automaker's constraints at this point.
Reynolds points out that when it comes to EVs, battery packs are expensive, thus efficiency is paramount. He's seen many other EV startups struggle, delay, or never make it out of the gate. Interestingly, Gale does reference Rivian in the interview.
Gale seems impressed to see what Rivian aims to do with a more boxy, traditional truck and SUV. This is somewhat expected since he was once on Rivian's board, but still means a lot coming from an auto designer. Gale shares about the company's products:
"I'm no longer on Rivian's board, but I'll tell you that it's far more efficient than it looks. Look—this is the designer in me talking so take it with a grain of salt—I wouldn't compromise for a few minuscule points of aero. As important as they are, you're going to throw the baby away with the bath water because the public's consideration is the most important thing."
Still, Gale says Franz von Holzhausen's job is not easy. He praises the car overall. He just says that if it were him designing it, he'd question the Model Y's roofline and hatch functionality. Gale also thinks some redesign to the front end, to make it more characterized, could help overall.
In the end, Gale points out the early renderings of the Model Y were nearly spot on. This means the Tesla crossover may well be the most predictable future car yet. But, hey, if it sells like hotcakes regardless of its classification, none of this really matters, right?
Source: Motor Trend