(Source: Tesla Inc.)

Musk Touts March 14 Model Y Event as Demand Questions Linger

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk said Sunday that Tesla will unveil its Model Y crossover in less than two weeks, as questions about store closures, employee layoffs and demand in the wake of waning U.S. federal tax credits threaten the company’s growth narrative.

Tesla first unveiled the Model 3 at its Hawthorne, California, design studio in March 2016. Tesla product launches, which feature throngs of customers willing to put down deposits on the spot, are typically highly orchestrated affairs that generate enormous interest and media attention. American consumers are increasingly shifting from sedans to SUVs, and the Model Y is the next offering in the company’s product pipeline.

On Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January, Musk said Tesla had completed the engineering and design of the Model Y and that “three-quarters of the Model Y is common with the Model 3.” The company may produce the vehicle at Tesla’s gigafactory east of Reno, Nevada, where batteries and powertrains are also made.

Musk Touts March 14 Model Y Event as Demand Questions Linger

In subsequent tweets Sunday, Musk said that the Model Y will have “normal” doors as opposed to the Falcon Wing doors that distinguished the Model X and the Model Y will cost about 10 percent more than the Model 3 since it’s a larger SUV. The company’s pricing is largely based on the battery range offered.

On Thursday, Tesla announced that customers can now order the $35,000 Model 3 with the standard range battery, a long-awaited goal. The automaker also said it’s “winding down” many of its stores and shifting to an online sales strategy in a blog post, a move that caught many by surprise. The shares tumbled 7.8 percent to $294.79 on Friday.

Phone calls to several U.S. stores Sunday went unanswered and were routed to Tesla’s California headquarters. Tesla declined to comment beyond the blog post.

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