2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is famous for tweeting bits of key product and company information.
Looks like he's done it again, referring to a 'Model Y' that may have falcon doors as one of two future products, the other being the Model 3 affordable sedan Tesla plans to put into production late in 2017.
The fact that Musk's tweets have since been deleted makes the whole thing even more mysterious.
The story comes via Tech Insider, which has a screen capture of Musk's deleted 'Model Y' tweet.
A user had asked if "a Model 3 crossover would have those doors" following Musk's tweet with a video of the Model X falcon doors in operation.
"There will be a Model 3 and a Model Y," Musk responded. "One of the two will."
2016 Tesla Model X
A later tweet, also deleted, acknowledged what had been widely expected: that here will be a version of the Model X crossover with a lower-capacity battery than the 90-kilowatt-hour pack offered today.
That version will be "something like a 70," Musk wrote, "but probably around 12 months from now."
He's referring to the 70-kWh battery that's the new base pack in the Model S as of earlier this year.
We would suspect that the Tesla Model Y is simply the model name for the crossover built on the same platform as the Model 3.
Carmakers like to have coherent naming structures, so Model X as the large AWD crossover and Model Y as the small one would make sense.
Tesla may have liked to do the same with its sedan names, but "Model T" is a Ford trademark--and, it turned out, so is "Model E," the company's choice for naming its future smaller, more affordable sedan model.
2016 Tesla Model X
The ultimate decision was to name it Model 3 (sometimes written Model III), which at least aligns with that car's position as the third generation of Tesla electric cars.
Tesla has said it will unveil a concept of the Model 3 car in the spring of 2016, and hopes to start production late in 2017, though it's not likely to be produced in high volumes immediately.
It could take until 2020 for Tesla Motors to reach a production rate of 500,000 cars a year, Musk has said.
And that assumes that the Model X production ramp-up goes smoothly and that the company can be building as many as 2,000 cars a week by the end of this year.
Thus far, Tesla has not managed to launch any of its vehicles on their originally announced schedules, so the industry will follow the saga of the Model 3 with interest.
Meanwhile, it appears that Musk has said that a future, more affordable electric utility wagon vehicle will be named Model Y--and will have the characteristic falcon doors.