Tesla has a new SUV that CEO Elon Musk says is "bringing sexy back, quite literally."

It's a long-running, eye-roll-inducing joke for the billionaire entrepreneur: he set out to follow a naming convention for his electric vehicles that would result in the acronym "S3XY." He already has the Tesla Models S, 3, and X; on Thursday Musk unveiled his Model Y vehicle

The conditions under which the automaker is announcing the Model Y are no joke, however. The company is diversifying its car lineup at a time when it appears to have little margin for error.

Musk recently announced Tesla was closing most of its stores and switching to an online-only business model to cut costs, only to reverse course a few days later and say Tesla
would keep most stores open. The company has also been second-guessing its pricing, raising and lowering the price of various models since the start of 2019. Musk recently said Tesla is unlikely to turn a profit this quarter.

Deliveries for the Model Y will begin in the fall of 2020 for the higher-priced versions ($47,000 to $60,000), while Tesla says a more affordable version starting at $39,000 will become available in 2021. The company is still trying to convince customers to buy its cars online, which would help it reduce costs, but also said stores would have a small number of cars available for "customers who wish to drive away with a Tesla immediately," according to a Tesla blog post.  

The Model Y could help Tesla expand into the mass market. SUV sales are expected to grow to more than half of all light vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2020, putting Tesla in a position to benefit from that trend. "We'll probably do more Y [sales] than S, X, and 3 combined," Musk said Thursday. Customers can preorder the Model Y online now with a $2,500 deposit.

Musk has been under intense scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission due to his unpredictable Twitter habit. Last month, the SEC asked a court to hold Musk in contempt for tweeting without getting approval from Tesla officials first, which is part of his agreement with the agency following an infamous tweet in which he suggested he had secured enough investor capital to take Tesla private at a price of $420 per share.

Published on: Mar 15, 2019