Tesla CEO Elon Musk jokingly motions to kick before introducing the Model Y at Tesla’s design studio Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Hawthorne, Calif. The Model Y may be Tesla’s most important product yet as it attempts to expand into the mainstream and generate enough cash to repay massive debts that threaten to topple the Palo Alto, Calif., company. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Tesla is unveiling its newest vehicle, the Model Y, an SUV that the automaker hopes will win over consumers looking for an all-electric alternative in the most popular segment of the auto market.

CEO Elon Musk was to introduce the Model Y Thursday night at a gathering of customers, employees and media.

The Model Y may be Tesla’s most important product yet as it attempts to expand into the mainstream and generate enough cash to repay massive debts that threaten to topple the Palo Alto, California, company.

Tesla got a huge boost toward ensuring its survival with the 2017 debut of its Model 3 sedan, but a sports utility vehicle could have even more mass appeal, given how popular SUVs have become in the U.S., Europe and Canada.

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Liedtke reported from San Francisco.

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