Tesla Model Y automotive radicalism

The Tesla Model Y.

Tesla’s new Model Y isn’t a particularly pretty car. This sport utility vehicle (SUV – “sport utility vehicle”, in French), raised by eighteen centimeters, has a much less fluid profile than the Model 3 sedan from which it is derived. Its comfort is not impeccable either. In the absence of controlled damping, it is difficult to offer a padded suspension when you weigh just over 2 tonnes, or 130 kg more than the reference model. One can also object that most of the materials in the cabin, hard to the touch, lack class.

The main thing is elsewhere, retort those who have fallen under the spell of the Californian manufacturer. The faults of a Tesla have this particularity that highlighting them seems almost incongruous, and the Model Y could well confirm the privilege enjoyed by this firm in full success, whose aura radiates far beyond its customers. In the third quarter, it broke its record, with 241,300 sales worldwide, up 20%, and its registrations in France were up 157% in September.

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Discovering the Model Y offers the opportunity to draw up an inventory of what fuels the passion for Tesla, against the current of the market slump and the discourse according to which the car has become an object reduced to its sole function. A phenomenon that is based on a form of radicalism, to use a much-used term.

Range between 480 km and 507 km

Like the rest of the range, this model claims to be an electric car, which implies a rather different relationship to its vehicle. On the courtyard side, having to organize your trips according to the charging stations when it comes to traveling several hundred kilometres. On the garden side, drive smoothly in a silent car, which allows instantaneous accelerations ignoring the inertia effects of a heat engine.

The Model Y has no grille and assumes to weigh 300 or 400 kg more than a thermal vehicle. While the exterior styling, designed to maximize aerodynamic performance, is undisruptive, the cabin definitely stands out from the competition. The furniture with simplified lines, the dashboard from which emerges a large 15-inch touch screen, but also the absence of physical controls and the brightness provided by the glass roof create an atmosphere that breaks with automotive references. The batteries distributed between the axles and the compactness of the two electric motors free up a vast living space, but also unprecedented storage volumes in the rear boot (854 litres) and in the front one (117 litres).

The interior of Tesla's Model Y.

The Tesla universe, which cultivates an avant-garde spirit more than the feeling of being a pioneer in ecology, underlies a special relationship with technology. The Model Y has a range of 480 km in the performance version and 507 km in the long range version, thanks to the presence of a battery with sophisticated chemistry, the capacity of which is around 75 kilowatt hours (kWh) – curiously , the manufacturer refuses to provide certain technical data – but not only. The brand can boast of a mastery of the electric powertrain, which makes it possible to achieve without forcing average consumption lower than the 16.9 kWh per 100 km officially announced.

Flatter the techie

The Model Y illustrates the desire to flatter the technophile who slumbers in any electric car enthusiast and to take note that a car, like a smartphone, will now be distinguished by its on-board software rather than its pure performance. Rather than bothering with a key, the smartphone acts as a sesame. A surveillance camera remains in service, even when the car is locked, and the GPS shows the surrounding vehicles or the route of the cycle paths.

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In traffic jams, the car stops, then restarts on its own, but if we want to go further in terms of autonomous driving, we will have to pay the price. An option at 3,800 euros allows you to take advantage of automatic lane change or “hands-free” parking, which is not quite luxury with a 4.75 m long car with a huge turning radius . Another at 7,500 euros authorizes, among other things, to coordinate the cruise control at stops and red lights.

From 57,990 euro

At Tesla, technology is also about staging. The digitization of the controls means that almost all the settings have to be looked up in the tree structures of the screen (air conditioning, opening of the glove box, orientation of the mirrors, etc.), a rigorous choice quickly abandoned by manufacturers who, like Peugeot , had embarked on this path. The American brand persists, and its followers zealously comply with these constraints. At Tesla, we also know how not to take ourselves seriously. For example, by providing the ability to customize the buzzer sound (La Cucarachaor the reproduction of the rattle of an ancient horn), or by making arcade games appear, or even a wood fire on the screen when the car is recharged.

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Openly elitist (its price starts from 57,990 euros, with an ecological bonus of 2,000 euros), the Model Y, which has been on the market since September in Europe, is manufactured in Shanghai, pending production, in the months to come. come, in the future factory in Berlin. The manufacturer has little concern about the success of this car, which also relies on the undeniable popularity of SUVs, and could well become the most popular Tesla in the world. The brand has just suspended its sponsorship program, which, visibly, seems disproportionate to the dynamism of demand.

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