Tesla Model Y & Tesla Model 3 Prototypes In This Pic? −

100% Electric Vehicles

Published on October 5th, 2015 | by Zach


Tesla Model Y & Tesla Model 3 Prototypes In This Pic?

First of all, if you are Tesla obsessed, I think you’ll immediately recognize that the image below is not brand new. It is a screenshot of an Australian 60 Minutes segment on Tesla that was recorded about 2½ months ago. I’m not sure who circled the car under wraps in that screenshot, but I searched for this image on Google and this is what I found. Incidentally, the car circled in red is precisely the car I want to focus on.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla Model Y

As I shared the other day, Elon recently dropped several nuggets of Tesla intel on us while going on a bit of a tweetstorm. One of the most interesting tweets — actually, the most interesting one, in my opinion — has since been deleted. In it, Elon stated, “there will be a Model 3 and a Model Y. One of the two will.” That was in response to a tweet from AwesomelyOZ that said, “Not gonna lie, I’d sell my soul to for one. Please tell me the Model III crossover will have these doors!”


In case you didn’t follow that, to summarize, Elon said that either the Model 3 or the Model Y would have falcon-wing doors like the Model X has.

Before that tweet, we didn’t really know anything about a Tesla Model Y, except that Tesla originally trademarked the name so that its product lineup would eventually read: S-E-X-Y.

However, Elon had stated that the next-gen, more-affordable Tesla would come in two shapes: as a sedan ~20% shorter than the Model S and as a crossover. Presumably, the Model Y would be that crossover. This is the same as how the Model X is basically the crossover/SUV version of the Model S.

Getting back to that image at the top, there are two cars under wraps. They both look smaller than the Model S and Model X. One seems to have some kind of strange door opening (falcon-wing door?) on one side. You getting the picture?…

Tim Urban of Wait But Why was not long ago invited to visit Tesla headquarters and interview Elon Musk in order to tell the Tesla and SpaceX story to more people. In one of his (super long) articles about the visit, he wrote, “Von Holzhausen¹ showed me a full-size clay car that was simultaneously testing two different possible designs for the upcoming Model 3 by making the two halves of the model different.” Things are looking pretty clear at this point, are they not?

It seems pretty likely to me that the image at the top of this article is either that half-and-half model or at least a full model of one of those options. Whether it’s a clay model with wheels stuck on it or an actual model or prototype made of metal and plastic, who knows? Whatever it is, though, it seems like it is an early version of the Model 3 or the Model Y. I lean towards thinking it’s an early version of the Model Y for a few reasons:

  1. The Model 3 is supposed to be quite a simplistic design, according to Elon, to ensure that they don’t run into trouble ramping up production on a car that is supposed to sell at volumes approximately 10 times larger than the Model S. (Surely, conventional doors are simpler and a more cautious/sensible choice for the Model 3, right?)
  2. If the Model Y is to the Model 3 what the Model X is to the Model S, it seems that the Model Y would be the crossover getting falcon-wing doors, no?
  3. The front of that hidden car circled in the pic at the top seems to have a nose very similar to the nose of the Model X, while the other covered car in the pic seems to have a nose more similar to the Model S. (Granted, I think this is the least important clue of all of these, but it may be relevant.)

I think that’s all the sleuthing I’ve got in me on this one. Your thoughts?

Oh yeah, and now I wonder why Elon deleted that Model Y tweet….

¹Franz von Holzhausen is in charge of design at Tesla Motors.


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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009.

Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, SCTY, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB. After years of covering solar and EVs, he simply had a lot of faith in these companies and felt like they were good companies to invest in as a portion of his retirement strategy.

To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Kyle Field

    Great stuff. I’m ready for a 3…I’m going to plunk down my deposit as soon as it’s available and never look back 🙂 How many more months ’til they announce?

    • TedKidd


    • Planning to plunk down at least one. 😀 But if the Y is close behind and has the bird doors….

  • Dragon

    Mmm… It would suck to finally get a model 3 and then a year or two later the model Y comes out with falcon wings…

    As for the tweet removal, I imagine Elon decided he didn’t want to be committed in writing to putting falcon wings on any future model because it might not end up being cost effective or whatever. Possibly there are still concerns about the longevity of the design and they want to see how it holds up. Or maybe he doesn’t want to risk losing any Model X sales by confirming the doors won’t be exclusive to X. Of course the backlog is so long I doubt he’d really care about that…

    The nose on the circled car has some bizarre angles to it, looking almost indented on each side with a harsh oval at the front. The X has a bit of that look but nothing so extreme. I don’t know what that means but it doesn’t look entirely natural. Maybe it has some extra equipment on it for testing or maybe that’s the frame with some missing body panels. Either may be evidence it’s not just a clay model.

    I also notice the car is much narrower than the S or X which implies more of an economy car such as model 3.

    • Haha, exactly what I’ve been thinking…

      …on all fronts in the first 2 paragraphs.

      Someone on the TMC forum compared that front to a Model X front and it looked like it matched. Just stands out with that cover on i.

  • Marcel

    The one on the right is more interesting. Looks more aerodynamic and wider = better handling. A nice sportback model 3 would be much more appealing than a hatchback or some crossover. Hopefully they won’t do any of the stupid tall designs of bmw or gm.

  • RunningonSouler

    It makes sense to me that these models could be early versions of the Model iii and a crossover variant. However, it does not make sense to me that the crossover variant would have falcon wing doors. The Model iii and the crossover variant (Model Y?) are projected to be 20% smaller–shorter–and therefore presumably 5 seaters, with no third row seat. The falcon wing door was primarily advertised as providing convenient access to the third-row seating in the Model X, but why would you need that in a 5-seat crossover? Also, the falcon wings presumably add cost and complexity, which would seem to work against the primary objectives of the Model iii and its possible variants. Personally, a crossover variant of the Model iii would be perfect for me, but I really don’t want the falcon wing doors.

    • Well, it’s a big surprise, but it’s what Elon just tweeted. Maybe they don’t see the costs as much different now that they have them figured out.

  • Tom Solomon

    And is not that sleek white fastback on the far right, the James Bond Lotus submarine that Elon bought?

    • walter rowntree

      OK, thank you, Tom. I was wondering

    • Yep.

  • still waiting sum41

    The Model Y has already been stated to be the hatchback with a Falcon-wing doors. The reason Elon deleted the tweet was because he felt he was rambling too much. It wasn’t the only tweet he deleted, so it’s not that significant. Just because you delete something doesn’t mean it’s off the internet; he’s not stupid.

  • Dan8

    Lok at the picture again. What is that thing at the top right? Looks like a silver bullet car??

    • Haeze

      That is the Lotus Esprit Submarine from the James Bond movie that Elon Musk bought at auction.

  • Dan8

    Too many mini toy cars; Need a full sized all E 300+ mi range SUV at $40K. Wake me up when that happens. Toys are useless. Predict that won’t happen till at least 2022. Meanwhile zzzzzzzzz and I’ll put more miles on the gas guzzler at todays cheap gas prices.

  • claude laval

    Why the Hoopla on Falcon wing doors? Of course since we don’t see that too often it’s nice but after a while it will come as nothing special and frankly in my part of the world (Canada) opening Facon wings doors when it’s snowing is a minus…

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