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What’s so Wrong About the Tesla Model Y’s Design Flaw?

In late March 2020, InsideEVs.com announced that they’d found a flaw in the images of the Tesla Model Y available online. The Tesla Model Y already made headlines with its incredible range – 315 miles on a single charge. Tesla has taken the automotive world by storm over the past decade, and the Model Y is an exciting entry into the SUV market. However, one particular design flaw may result in compromised safety and bring on unnecessarily expensive repairs.

The Tesla Model Y’s design flaw

On March 28, InsideEVs posted an article titled “Is This A Serious Tesla Model Y Design Flaw?” In the article, Tom Moloughney discussed the location of the rear hatch. On the vast majority of vehicles, the rear hatch stops before the bumper. Since the bumper is built to keep the car safe in a collision, it sticks out further than the rear hatch in most cases. However, the Model Y’s rear hatch juts out when it reaches the bumper, extending out along with the bumper.

This is tremendously convenient for loading the vehicle since it means that the opening is closer to the ground. It’s easy to see why this was designed by Tesla in this manner, but it also means that a fender-bender would result in the hatch being damaged and not just the bumper. What would normally be a couple hundred dollars to fix could result in the replacement of the entire hatch assembly if the gate is no longer to open or close.

The initial response to the hatch issue

After the InsideEVs article, Sandy Munro appeared to respond with a video detailing the construction of the Tesla Model Y’s back bumper. “I know some people said ‘well, this is kind of low and it’ll maybe crush the hatch.’ But you know what, at the end of the day, this is higher than what a minivan is, and I don’t hear a lot of complaining about that on Chrysler’s products.”

However, the initial concern from InsideEVs wasn’t about the height, it was about the construction. The issue isn’t that the hatch is low to the ground, it’s that it sticks out along with the bumper. The InsideEVs site clarified this with a follow-up article, which doesn’t appear to have a response from Munro or Tesla yet.

What the hatch issue could mean for repair bills

With the hatch extending outward as the bumper does, Model Y drivers appear to be a risk for potentially astronomical repair bills. Additionally, some issues have already been discovered with the Model Y’s paint job. Fixing the paint is obviously a massive part of getting a car back on the road after an accident, and it seems to be yet another issue with the Model Y.

It’s definitely possible that Tesla is aware of the real problem here and will take steps to fix it on future Model Y vehicles. However, the initial communication appeared to be disregarded, and it may take a number of very expensive collisions to convince Tesla to make a change. Low hatches are nothing new, but jutting it out along with the bumper appears to be a significant design mistake.

The future of the Tesla Model Y

Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks past the new Tesla Model Y at its unveiling in Hawthorne, California
The Tesla Model Y | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla has shown the ability to quickly respond to feature requests and bugs. Once the engineers are fully cognizant of the hatch/bumper issue, it’s likely that they’ll address it quickly. Whether or not it will be as big an issue as InsideEVs originally thought was is up in the air, but ensuring that everyone involved fully understands the issue will be the first step.