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Tesla Model Y, a new SUV, is unveiled amid mounting challenges

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Tesla has unveiled a compact sport-utility vehicle called the Model Y, in its latest effort to broaden its product range while contending with problems on a number of fronts.

[CALIFORNIA] Tesla has unveiled a compact sport-utility vehicle called the Model Y, in its latest effort to broaden its product range while contending with problems on a number of fronts.

Speaking on Thursday night at an event at the company's design centre in Hawthorne, California, Elon Musk, Tesla's chief executive, touted the new electric vehicle's performance and safety-focused design.

"It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car," Mr Musk said. "This thing will be really tight in corners. And we expect it will be the safest midsize SUV in the world by far."

Tesla, however, is still a long way from delivering the vehicle. It forecasts that the earliest deliveries would begin in fall 2020, barring engineering or production delays of the sort that hampered its best-selling car, the Model 3.

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Last year, Mr Musk predicted that the Model Y would be ready for delivery in the first half of 2020. Tesla has not offered detailed plans for assembling the car, and recently said it would probably make the Model Y at its giant battery plant in Nevada.

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co, said Tesla's goal of having the Model Y in volume production by the end of next year was a matter of concern. "This timeline appears similar to the original timeline for the Model 3 ramp, which was ultimately delayed by nine-12 months," he wrote in a note to investors.

By late 2020, Tesla will probably face stronger competition. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche are starting to produce vehicles that will rival the Model Y.

The first Model Y versions will have starting prices of US$47,000 to US$60,000 and are expected to offer a driving range of up to 300 miles. The company has begun taking deposits of US$2,500 for orders.

A more affordable version with a range of about 230 miles and a starting price of US$39,000 is supposed to go into production in spring 2021.

Tesla said it aimed to offer the Model Y in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, the Netherlands and a number of other European countries.

Investors seemed unimpressed by the rollout. Tesla's shares declined 5 per cent on Friday.

NYTIMES