New plan, Elon Musk says: Tesla Model Y SUV will use Model 3 platform

His team 'reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity.'

In Tesla's earnings call, in addition to learning more about Model 3 orders and cash burn, we got a bit more information about the company's next electric vehicle, a compact SUV called the Model Y.

Previously, Musk teased the Model Y at a shareholders' meeting, but he had suggested it would not have much in common with the Model 3, saying it was a "mistake" to base the Model X on the Model S. In this week's call, though, Musk reversed himself: "Upon the counsel of my executive team ... who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity ... the Model Y will in fact be using substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster." Musk says it's important to deliver Model Y quicker because of the demand for SUVs.

How much quicker? Musk had earlier said the Model Y could tentatively show up in 2019, but he didn't mention a date on the latest call. It's not clear if this means the Model Y will come sooner, or just that production realities meant that putting it on a new platform would have delayed it beyond the original date.

Basing the Model Y ("or whatever the hell") on the Model 3 means it will have "relatively low technical and production risk as a result," Musk said. That doesn't mean Musk won't depart from the formula the next time around. "I still think we want to do the crazy thing in the future, but we will punt that until after the compact SUV."

Musk feels good about where Tesla stands today, despite the difficulty of the Model 3 launch. "Last week stressed the hell out of me," Musk said, "but I really think that this is probably the best I've ever felt about the company."

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