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Tesla shifts focus to bring Model Y to market faster

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Elon Musk says the forthcoming electric crossover will share many components with the Model 3

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said today the forthcoming Model Y electric crossover vehicle will be built on a similar architecture to the recently released Model 3, in an effort to bring the car to market sooner. The news, announced in an earnings call Wednesday, is a reversal from several months ago, in which Musk claimed the all-electric compact SUV would be “completely different” from anything Tesla has produced before.

“Upon the council of my executive team to reel me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y will, in fact, be using substantial carry over from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster,” Musk said on the call.

Previously, Musk said he planned to ditch the 12-volt battery architecture used in Tesla’s other vehicles, which could dramatically reduce the length of electric wiring needed and simplify the production process. Less wiring means more automation in the production process, and Musk has said he plans to introduce more robots into Tesla’s production line.

That’s still part of the plan, Musk said Wednesday. But creating an entirely new vehicle platform for the Model Y would undoubtedly also be an incredibly expensive effort, especially for a company like Tesla that operates on razor-thin margins.

Many automakers use a single vehicle architecture to assembly different vehicles in order to simplify the manufacturing process. This allows for more efficiency and less costly production. The Model Y will share many of its components with the Model 3, which has just entered production, but it will also share some features from Tesla’s other vehicles, like the Model X’s falcon-wing doors. The Model Y won’t enter production until the end of 2019 or early 2020, Musk has previously said.

The Model Y will be the linchpin to Tesla’s goal of delivering 1 million cars by 2020. The company just announced that it shipped 47,000 cars in the first half of 2017.