Tesla Model Y “Juniper” update takes center stage

Tesla Model Y “Juniper” update takes center stage

As popular as the Tesla Model Y is, it’s beginning to show its age as the Model 3 update hits the U.S. market and Rivian unveils its R2 and R3 plans.

Introduced in 2019, the Model Y crossover SUV was the best selling EV in the U.S. in 2023 by a wide margin. And Tesla has continued to slash the price, now starting at around $41,000 for new inventory Model Ys. But the updated Model 3 — which is built on the same platform — offers tantalizing clues about what could be coming to the Y. That includes changes in exterior and interior styling and improvements to aerodynamics, handling, and cabin noise. And, lest we forget, a stalkless steering column and a screen for rear-seat passengers. Tesla has also been able to lower costs with simplified manufacturing processes. Problem is, a refreshed Model Y isn’t expected this year — at least not in North America.

Robert Rosenfeld, who has a YouTube channel that covers all things Tesla, expresses what prospective Model Y buyers will face in 2024. “The updates Tesla is planning with the refreshed ‘Project Juniper’ version…will make the Model Y significantly better,” he told me in an email. (Hap tip to InsideEVs.)

Rivian R2 and R3 offer a credible alternative: Rivian unveiled plans for its future R2 and R3 vehicles this past week. While the R2, priced starting at $45,000, isn’t expected until 2026 and the R3 sometime after that, it’s not a stretch to say that some EV buyers crave an alternative to the Model Y, one of the most ubiquitous vehicles in the U.S. in 2024. As of the end of this past week, Rivian had received about 70,000 preorders for the R2. The Irvine, California-based company stands out from the competition as a manufacturer of adventure EVs (to which I can attest in my own test drives.)

“The electric vehicle market will not be dominated by one player forever,” Sam Fiorani, an analyst at AutoForecast Solutions LLC, told me. “There are many segments that have not been fully exploited yet and there are many buyers who simply don’t want a Tesla,” he said.

Fiorani continued. “The EV market is young and only makes up 10% of the U.S. market. When this expands to 50%, nobody expects Tesla to hold a majority of that 8-million-unit market. This is not to say Rivian’s success is guaranteed, but a number of automakers will be competing for share and Tesla will just be one of them.”

Rosenfeld says there’s a reason Tesla is not in a hurry to bring out a major refresh of the Model Y. “Tesla is taking an approach ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ It’s not as flashy as the new Model 3 but it’s a tried and true design and Tesla has slowly been refining it over the last few years and they’ve basically perfected the formula,” he said on his YouTube channel.

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