The Model Y Proves That Tesla Has Learned a Lot

In its early years of mass production, Tesla faced a significant amount of setbacks. Fundamental to its ambitious nature was a go-its-own-way attitude, with the company breaking industry precedent only to sometimes learn the same lessons legacy OEM had faced decades before. It happened with fully automated production, automotive-grade components, and the incredibly expensive and complicated falcon wing doors on the Model X.

These were hard lessons for the company. But they were also inevitable—a sign of Silicon Valley thinking that refused to accept industry norms and chose to push hard to innovate where others had given up. It’s that same attitude that made the Model S such a groundbreaking vehicle and one that has cemented Tesla as the global leader in electric car technology. Plus, it’s gotten people excited about EVs in a way that didn’t seem possible a decade ago.

But as the company matures, it can’t keep making costly mistakes. Too many people are watching; small amounts of ambition must be traded for some stability. Now that the Model Y is reaching private customers, it appears Tesla has learned that lesson. In a fantastic review from Throttle House, James Engelsman describes the Model Y in terms we expected: it’s a Model 3, but bigger and taller.

That is not an exciting conclusion. But it’s a good one for Tesla. The Model X tried hard to be more than a crossover version of the Model S. The changes it made—mainly the doors and the monopost seats—are among the largest quality concerns for the early production cars. Tesla took a mature, brilliant product like the Model S and—in a desire to keep the Silicon Valley excitement alive—added extra complications that Elon Musk now regrets. The Model Y is unburdened by these things. It’s a Model 3 SUV.

That means it’s incredibly quick, hitting 60 in 3.5 seconds. It keeps Tesla’s Autopilot system which is a competent driver assist, though we must note that—though Tesla has said it will be capable of functioning as a fully autonomous RoboTaxi—the vehicle is not self-driving and should not be treated as such. But other key Tesla advantages, like the Supercharger network and a competitor-besting max range of 316 miles, cement it as one of the most practical EVs.

None of that is particularly new. But Tesla didn’t need new; Tesla was already ahead in key areas. By scaling back its ambitions, it’s been able to deliver a product on time, which delivers everything customers expected, and hopefully won’t have the quality concerns of more novel products. It’s not the most exciting product the company has built, but it shows that Tesla is slowly maturing.

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