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Tesla unveils Model Y SUV, expanding into popular segment
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Tesla unveils Model Y SUV, expanding into popular segment

Tesla unveils Model Y SUV, expanding into popular segment
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Tesla CEO Elon Musk jokingly motions to kick before introducing the Model Y at Tesla's design studio Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Hawthorne, Calif. The Model Y may be Tesla's most important product yet as it attempts to expand into the mainstream and generate enough cash to repay massive debts that threaten to topple the Palo Alto, Calif., company. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tesla unveils Model Y SUV, expanding into popular segment

Tesla unveiled a new all-electric SUV on Thursday night that the automaker hopes will win over consumers looking for an all-electric alternative in the most popular segment of the auto market.

Cheers from a hangar-packed crowd of Tesla customers, employees and members of the media welcomed a blue Model Y as it rolled out onto a stage next to the automaker's other models.

"It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car," CEO Elon Musk told the crowd. "This thing will be really tight on corners and we expect it will be the safest midsize SUV in the world by far."

The Model Y seats seven and has a panoramic glass roof and a 15-inch (38-centimeter) touchscreen interface for accessing all the car's controls.

The all-electric, mid-size SUV will start at $39,000 for the standard range version, which the company said can go 230 miles (370 kilometers) on a single charge. The long-range model, which starts at $47,000, has a range of up to 300 miles (483 kilometers) on a single charge - less range than the Model 3.

A dual-motor, all-wheel drive version of the Model Y starts at $51,000 while the performance version of the car, which boasts acceleration of 0-60 mph (97 kph) in as little as 3.5 seconds and a top speed of up to 150 mph (241 kph), starts at $60,000.

The Model Y may be Tesla's most important product yet as it attempts to expand into the mainstream and generate enough cash to repay massive debts that threaten to topple the Palo Alto, California, company.

Tesla got a huge boost toward ensuring its survival with the 2017 debut of its Model 3 sedan, but an SUV could have even more mass appeal, given how popular SUVs have become in the U.S., Europe and Canada.

The U.S. market share for SUVs, crossovers, vans and pickup trucks stood at 69 percent in January, up from just 48.5 percent a decade ago, according to the research firm IHS Markit.

But most SUVs still run on gasoline, leaving Tesla to cater to consumers looking for an all-electric alternative. The Model Y's main competition in this still-nascent market is likely to be the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and to a lesser extent, the Jaguar I-Pace, according to the research firm LMC Automotive.

"This could be Tesla's most profitable vehicle, with the giant asterisk that the company doesn't do some of the dumb things it has in the past," said Gartner analyst Mike Ramsey.

Many of Tesla's past follies have been tied to Musk's penchants for making grandiose promises that the company hasn't been able to keep in terms of production, delivery and execution.

Production of the Model 3 quickly fell behind schedule as Tesla struggled to come up with adequate manufacturing capacity and it took much longer than anticipated to lower the sedan's starting price to the $35,000 level that Musk had been promoting. Instead, the lowest priced version of the Model 3 had been selling for $43,000 until a couple weeks ago when Tesla reached the promised price point by laying off thousands of workers and imposing other cost-cutting measures.

Overseeing the ramp-up of Model 3's production nearly drove Musk to exhaustion last year, a factor that may have contributed to a mystifying pattern of behavior that included tweeting about having lined up the financing for a potential buyout of Tesla. That misleading statement jeopardized his job and resulted in a $40 million settlement with stock market regulators.

Musk alluded to the troubled production of the Model 3 during his remarks to the crowd Thursday night.

"Because of extreme challenges with the Model 3 production, we have to basically allocate all resources to Model 3 production, because otherwise we're going to die," Musk said with a chuckle, eliciting laughs from the crowd.

He then added: "2018 probably felt like aging five years in one. It was really intense."

Tesla expects to deliver the performance, long range, rear-wheel drive and dual-motor, all-wheel drive versions of the Model Y in the fall of 2020. The standard version of the Model Y is expected to roll out in the spring of 2021.

As with all electric vehicles, the distance that the Model Y can cover on a fully charged battery is likely to be one of its key selling points - or downsides. Tesla pegged the Model Y's range at up to 300 miles compared to 325 miles for the Model 3.

Tesla is hoping there will pent-up demand for the Model Y, nearly four years after Musk first began touting the company's plans to make an SUV. Bringing in early down payments for the vehicles would help Tesla generate the cash it needs to repay nearly $1.7 billion in loans that come due within the next 16 months.

The company began the year with about $11 billion in debt and $3.7 billion in cash, but those figures presumably fell recently when it repaid about $920 million in bonds.

Another $566 million in notes are scheduled to be repaid this November followed a $1.1 billion credit line in June 2020.

Consumers who plop down their deposits for the Model Y may have to cross their fingers for their vehicles to be delivered on schedule.

Tesla's recurring production and delivery problems have resulted in consumers having to wait longer than they were originally told. Musk now says Tesla has worked out those issues.

Ramsey, though, remains skeptical about whether the company will have adequate manufacturing capacity for the Model Y. He expects the Model Y's journey to the mass market to provide another wild ride for the company, its investors and customers.

"Until Elon is gone, Tesla is going to be a crazy company that occasionally makes breathtaking products," Ramsey predicted.

___

Liedtke contributed to this report from San Francisco.

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Local News

  • Thousands of jobs will soon be coming to Georgia, thanks to a new $1.7 billion battery plant.  SK Innovation, a Korean developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, will begin construction this year.  The project is being called the 'largest single investment and job-creating project in Georgia's history' and will create 2,000 new jobs.  Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach is in Jackson County, where Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp attended the groundbreaking ceremony.  We'll show you what the futuristic plant will look like and what Gov. Kemp had to say about the project, on Channel 2 Action News at 4 p.m. The Governor @BrianKempGA joined by US Secretary of Commerce for groundbreaking in Jackson County for SK Battery plant w/ $1.7 Billion investment and 2,000 new jobs pic.twitter.com/gOCIAL8dDl — Steve Gehlbach (@SteveGWSB) March 19, 2019 TRENDING STORIES: Tyler Perry steps in to help family of woman killed in bank shooting College student hospitalized after roommate pours bleach in her eyes, police say Georgia restaurant picked for having best BBQ in the South The plant will cover almost 300 acres along Interstate 85 in Commerce and will build batteries to power electric cars. KIA, Mercedes, Hyundai and BMW have brought their operations to the South in recent years, which is a reason SK picked this location. SK Innovations plans to invest up to $5 billion in Georiga over the next decade and jobs could also grow up to 5,000 or 6,000 during that time. 
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  • Georgia Bulldog basketball coach Tom Crean said attrition is part of transforming a program, and on Monday Teshaun Hightower announced he’s leaving the Dogs. Hightower, a 6-foot-5 guard from Lithonia, scored a season-high 18 points in UGA’s 98-88 win over Texas this season. The Bulldogs lose six seniors from the 2018-19 team that went 11-21 overall and 2-16 in the SEC. Crean has four Top 100 prospects headed to Athens in the 2019 class. Anthony “Ant Man” Edwards, the top shooting guard in the country, is expected to be part of the April signing period haul. Edwards factors heavily into what figures to be a reloaded backcourt with Jordan Harris and Tyree Crump possibly returning for their senior seasons. Georgia now awaits the pivotal decision of sophomore forward Nicolas Claxton, who has said he’s exploring his options. Hightower started 17 of the 29 games he played this season, averaging 6.6 points per game. Hightower did not play in three of the final four games.  
  • The Georgia Bulldog football team begins spring practice today: workouts culminate with the April 20 G-Day game in Sanford Stadium. The Dogs begin the 2019 season in 165 days, August 31 in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores.  From Mike Griffith, AJC DawgNation.. Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman in return game? 4. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 5. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 6. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 7. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 8. Defensive linemen The lock: None.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — His first spring he went toe-to-toe with an incumbent starter. His second year he competed with a 5-star signee ranked as the top quarterback in the country. Now a rising junior with 29 games under his belt as Georgia’s quarterback, Jake Fromm said he is entering his third spring with the Bulldogs with the exact same mentality he went into those other two. “It doesn’t change my preparation at all,” said Fromm, speaking with reporters a couple of hours before the Bulldogs took the field for spring practice. “I’m still technically competing for a job. I’m always going to strive to get better. Whether I’m competing against somebody specifically or competing with my self, I’m always going to strive to be the best I can be.” Fromm has faced the highest degree of competition from the moment he walked onto Georgia’s campus as an early enrollee in January of 2017. He played second fiddle to Jacob Eason that first year and then had to beat out Justin Fields in Year 2 even though he’d led the Bulldogs into the national championship game just three months earlier. Now Eason (Washington) and Fields (Ohio State) play for different teams. And the only others in the quarterback meeting room with him are walkon-turned-JUCO-transfer Stetson Bennett, 4-star signee and early enrollee Dwan Mathis and third-year walkon John Seter. The dynamic is decidedly different, but Fromm said his attitude remains the same. “I’m kind of in the role of a slight mentor,” Fromm said of his role. “I’m going to teach those guys things that I’ve learned from experience. Hopefully I can help those guys out, teach them how to communicate how to learn to learn, as far as the playbook. There’s a lot of things going on, a lot of things being thrown at them. I’m there. I’m a shoulder to lean on sometimes. I can’t wait to see those guys go out there and throw the football around.” There have been several other significant changes on offense. The main one is the absence of offensive coordinator and veteran play-caller Jim Chaney. With Chaney’s departure for a significant pay raise at Tennessee, James Coley has been promoted into the role of sole offensive coordinator. Coley, who had been a coordinator at Miami and Florida State previously, was Fromm’s position coach last year while also serving as c0-coordinator. So while much will stay the same, Fromm expects there will be a lot of different as well. And for Fromm, different is good. “For me, I want to learn new things,” Fromm said. “If we changed up the terminology every single year, I wouldn’t be opposed to that, because I like learning. I want to be the best I can at everything. It offers a different twist. It makes me come in every day hungry and on the edge.” So solid is Fromm’s position on the team that coach Kirby Smart spent all of 10 seconds talking about him during his 25-minute spring practice news conference on Tuesday. “Excited about Jake and the growth he’s been able to give us. He’s been a tremendous help with the other two quarterbacks that are here. Obviously, we have a lot of confidence in Jake in our offensive system and his understanding of running the thing.” Yes, at this point Fromm has accumulated quite a body of work. He enters his third spring having completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 5,364 yards with 54 TDs and 13 interceptions. His career efficiency rating finishing fifth in the nation last season at 171..21 is a hardy 166.90. As ever, though, Fromm’s plan is to be even better. To do that, he hopes to improve in the area of mobility and quarterback run while creating even more explosive plays as a passer. No reason at this point to think Fromm won’t make that happen. “I want to make my teammates the best I can, the team the best I can, I want to be successful,” he said. “I want to win a lot of football games, I want to win the SEC Championship, I want to win the national championship, I want to be great. So I’m going to come in and compete and strive to be the best I can be every day.” The post Georgia QB Jake Fromm’s plan: ‘To be great’ and ‘win a national championship’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Alabama football Nick Saban gave no indication he had any issues with Kirby Smart when interviewed by AJC-DawgNation at the CFP press conference in San Jose, Calif., last January. “We certainly have a lot of respect for Kirby and what he’s done at Georgia, and the very difficult games we’ve had playing them the last couple of years,” Saban said in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum recently suggested Saban has a strained relationship with Smart, who since leaving his side as Alabama’s defensive coordinator has grown into the biggest threat to dethrone the Tide. Smart was asked if his relationship with Saban was damaged during Georgia’s Tuesday press conference and essentially laughed it off. RELATED: Kirby Smart discusses relationship dynamics with Saban Saban said a lot of people confuse the competitive element with relationships. “It’s really not personal, you still have a certain amount of respect and admiration for them as people, the kind of person they are, the kind of values they have,” Saban said. “You appreciate what they’ve done to help you be successful, and you understand what they are trying to do to be successful, and you have a respect for that, and I don’t think that’s unhealthy in any way shape or form.” Saban used his relationship with Bill Belichick as an example, having worked as an assistant coach under Belichick with the Cleveland Browns en route to facing him from the opposite sideline in the NFL. “We were in the same division and we played two times a year,” said Saban, who coached the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East after Belichick had become the New England Patriots coach. “It’s not personal  …. when you compete against somebody, you want to do the best you can to try to help your team be successful and you respect them because they’re gonna do the same thing for their team.” Saban admits it’s tough to face former assistants who know the ins and outs of his program, but he said that’s part of the coaching business. “No doubt, they get to pick and choose which parts of what we do to utilize,” Saban said. “I did the same thing when I was coming up, whether it was George Perles at Michigan State or Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns. “That’s knowledge and experience, and that’s how you gain it.” Alabama football coach Nick Saban The post WATCH: Nick Saban asked about Kirby Smart competition, ‘It’s not personal’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart laughed when asked if he and Alabama coach Nick Saban had a strained relationship. “Absolutely not,” Smart said at the Bulldogs’ opening spring football press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t have any issue or any problem with any relationship with Nick. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s done anything but grown with more respect since we played them twice.” Alabama beat Georgia in the College Football Playoff Championship Game two years ago, and again in the SEC Championship Game last December. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum had indicated there were issues between Saban and Smart this offseason. “We have a great relationship,” Smart said of his friendship with Saban. “We’re not texting and calling buddy buddy, but I don’t do that with anybody. “I have a lot of respect for him, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and there’s no problem with our relationship.” More Georgia football spring 2019 Way-too-early UGA spring football position group rankings  Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart strongly denies relationship issue with Nick Saban appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Kirby Smart said Georgia redshirt freshman tailback Zamir White will be out for spring drills. “Zamir is coming back, but he won’t be doing spring (drills) other than running on the side,” Smart said on Tuesday, “so he won’t be cleared.” White was injured in August drills playing on special teams while covering a punt. “Any time you have a non-contact ACL, and then you have a second one, you have to be careful,” Smart said. “When that happens, it makes you wonder if the kid can progress as fast as he did last time. “He’s running really well, he’s just not going to be involved in he scrimmage. I probably won’ know until early fall camp. He’s being re-habbing really well.” Smart also said the following players will be out: DL Michail Carter (shoulder surgery) LB Rian Davis, (knee surgery) TE Ryland Goede (knee surgery) RB Prather Hudson (shoulder surgery) DL David Marshall (foot surgery) LB Trezman Marshall (shoulder surgery) DL Julian Rochester (knee surgery) “We’ve also had a few hamstring injuries,” Smart said. Smart added that tailback James Cook has been cleared after suffering a severe ankle injury that required surgery.   The post Georgia football coach Kirby Smart updates injury list, Zamir White appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart elaborated on Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann being promoted to defensive coordinator and co-defensive coordinator at Tuesday’s opening spring football press conference. “I’ve had a lot of confidence in Dan and Glenn, not everyone knows what goes on behind the scenes,” Smart said on Tuesday. “But as head coach you are in all those meetings, and you know how involved Dan and Glenn are, and I have a lot of confidence in those two guys.” Lanning was promoted to defensive coordinator on Feb. 15, some six weeks after Mel Tucker was hired to become Colorado’s new head coach. Smart was conspicuously silent on Lanning’s promotion at the time, later saying it was “probably overrated.” RELATED: Leadership questions arise from Kirby Smart offseason interview Smart explained that he’s in control of all of the units, and that what matters is how the staff works together. “When you sit in the seat that I sit in, we’re responsible for both sides of the ball and special teams,” Smart said on a radio interview with 690 The Fan. “So if you sit in those meetings, obviously it’s important to have good leadership but it’s done by a group of men who do it together.” Lanning received a raise from $325,000 to $750,000 in adding the defensive coordinator title to his inside linebacker coaching duties. RELATED: Dan Lanning a thrifty, promising hire for Kirby Smart Schumann, who will continue to work with the outside linebackers, received a raise from $325,000 to $550,000 to add the co-defensive coordinator title. More Georgia football spring 2019 Way-too-early UGA spring football position group rankings  Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post New Georgia DC Dan Lanning getting it done ‘behind the scenes’ appeared first on DawgNation.