Tesla executives still have not decided where to manufacture the company's forthcoming crossover SUV, the Model Y, according to six current and former employees. This despite the fact the company is planning to formally unveil the vehicle for the first time on March 14 at the company's design center in Hawthorne, California.
Two other people who work for Tesla vendors said the automaker did not contact them about working together on Model Y production until after CEO Elon Musk teased the unveiling in a tweet on March 3. That's one indication Tesla has barely begun planning for Model Y manufacturing, they said.
Musk has already said the Model Y should cost about 10 percent more than the Model 3, which starts at $35,000.
Along with a pickup truck that Tesla plans to unveil later this year, the Model Y could ensure that Tesla's lineup stays competitive versus offerings from other electric truck and SUV makers. Those rivals include Rivian, a newcomer funded by Amazon, and established automakers like BMW and Hyundai, who are honing in on Tesla's territory with electric cars.
Employees say Tesla executives, including its president of automotive, Jerome Guillen, are wavering between two options for Model Y production. They are trying to decide whether Tesla should allocate space in the Gigafactory, the company's massive battery plant outside of Reno, Nevada, or combine the Model S and Model X body lines at its car plant in Fremont, California, to make room to build the crossover SUVs.
One employee said if executives have made a decision, they haven't given a green light to employees who will be involved in setting up the Model Y lines and eventually building the vehicles.
A Tesla spokesperson pointed to a February letter to shareholders, but declined to offer an update on Model Y planning. The letter said, "This year we will start tooling for Model Y to achieve volume production by the end of 2020, most likely at Gigafactory 1."