The eclectic, electrifying Tesla Model Y

There was a time when ‘electrification’ referred to hooking up remote rural areas to the national power grid so that no one needed to live in the dark, between dusk and dawn.

Having brought light to darkness, ‘going electric’ on our roads is now an automotive ‘holy trail’ set to transform our dependence on fossil fuels over to renewable energy to power vehicular motion.

Gottlieb Daimler, who is credited with inventing the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), must be turning in his grave, now that Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are charging ahead.

Tesla’s Model Y will start to appear on our roads within the next few months.

Malaysia is also caught up in this ‘electrification’ wave to reverse the apocalyptic tide of global warming and climate change by changing our driving habits and switching over to battery power.

So, when Tesla finally came to town, there was more than just a wave of electricity generated at the launch event held at the commercial cauldron of the Pavilion in Bukit Bintang on Thursday.

“Hold on!” you might say – there are Teslas already on our roads since 2021 with privately-imported Tesla Model 3s. Correct – but the launch of the ‘Y’ in Malaysia now brings with it Tesla’s corporate intentions in this country, beginning with establishing a presence in Cyberjaya. (Remember way back in 1997 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad touted it as our Silicon Valley?)

The launch event was crawling with eager young guys and gals in black get-up, with the Tesla badge sewn onto their breast pockets coming up to guests and introducing themselves as Tesla advisors. No, they are not the run-of-the-mill sales staff but ‘Tesla-trained’ advisors who have undergone thorough training (overseas, I might add) to spearhead this ‘battery’ charge!

I attended the launch against the backdrop that 10,000 units had already been booked, and the first cars would arrive on our shores early next year. This, it turns out, is not true.

Tesla regional boss Isabel Fan, who held centre stage during the launch, said so, but remained tight-lipped over the exact number of bookings prior to launch day.

The ‘Y’ is not exactly in the mass Malaysian market, as the cheapest Model Y costs just under RM200,000, which certainly puts it beyond the reach of the B40s – more their M40 brethren.

The biggest barrier to embracing the Tesla Model Y – or any electric vehicle (EV) for that matter – is range anxiety.

Tesla aims to overcome this by setting up multiple supercharging stations – its Model Y, which operates at peak efficiency of 250kW can charge up to 120km in just 5 minutes. It will also set up the first indoor supercharging station at Pavilion KL and at other popular destinations across the country.

It was announced at the launch that a comprehensive development plan for an experience centre, service, and support and charging infrastructure is in the works, aimed at delivering a seamless Tesla ownership experience.

Tesla buyers are being spurred on by government largesse too, – they benefit from 100 per cent road tax exemption and individual income tax relief of up to RM2,500 on expenses related to EV charging facilities for the 2023 assessment year.

Companies that rent non-commercial EVs may claim tax deductions on the rental amount of up to RM300,000 from the year of assessment 2023-2025.

For that money, what does the ‘Y’ driver get?

Tesla says this Model Y has gotten better over time with wireless software updates. This brings in new features with more entertainment, higher performance, and range, not to mention increased comfort and better safety.

Every driver information is accessed through a 15-inch touchscreen ‘hung’ half-way in the cockpit. Basic autopilot enables the car to be steered, accelerated, and braked automatically to prevent ‘intrusions’ into other vehicles and pedestrians, once in motion.

For the Malaysian market, apart from the Rear Wheel Drive model mentioned, there is the Model Y Long Range (RM246,000) and the Dual Motor Performance (RM288,000) on offer.

Both come with an eight-year warranty, or between 160,000km and 192,000km, whichever comes first, depending on the model.

Keep ‘plugged in’ as we will bring you a test drive experience report soon.

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