Green Update: Tesla’s Model X EV Crossover

February 14th, 2012

Tesla Model X, doors open

Describing a car with all its doors open, somebody once said, “It looks like an unbuttoned double-breasted suit.” So does the Model X with its “falcon-wing doors.” These are gullwing doors hinged to fold inward as they rise, permitting easier entry.

Car and Driver called it “mostly a gimmick,” which it is. I would not want to be inside this car in a rollover. Otherwise it is basically a Model S, but stretched to take 7 passengers. Buyers can choose AWD with a second electric motor driving the front wheels and 0-60-mph times (maybe) of 4.4 seconds.

Two batteries are available—with 60 or 85kWh, giving a range of about 215 or 270 miles, respectively. The car is going to be 10-12 percent heavier than the Model S sedan, which already weighs 4,700 pounds. So the S should perform a bit better, unless you get the AWD model.

Prices will be in a range similar to the S, from about $49,900 to $97,900, depending on options, batteries, etc., and this includes the federal $7,500 tax credit. But Model X won’t be available until 2014. Still, Tesla is taking $5,000 deposits and has already gotten several. The S will start selling in July.

Tesla Model X, doors closed

Tesla’s CEO-Founder Elon Musk wants to demonstrate the company’s viability, but there are some big questions here. One, will the X cannibalize sales from the S? I think that’s probable, and the company’s future is riding on the success of the S.

Two, Musk is talking about a new Roadster, to appear in 2015, and that would be nice, but he has delayed it in order to produce a “Gen 3” mass-market car, likely a cheaper, scaled-down version of the S, perhaps in 2014.

The man’s ambitions are enormous, and yet (per the L.A. Times), “Tesla appears to be the only start-up auto company with a chance of surviving in a competitive industry dominated by much larger, established players, analysts said.”

Fisker, in another setback, had to shut down temporarily last week, while Tesla keeps rolling on, making parts for other automakers like Toyota. Yet two top engineers left the company last month, and the stock plunged. Musk, as usual, put a good face on it.

The gamble is that the Model X will steal the show as the country’s first electric-powered SUV. With its range and power, it just might start to sell.

Do you think the prospects for success of the Model X are good? Give us your thoughts.

—jgoods

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  1. panayoti
    | #1

    Elon Musk is a genius, no doubt there, but he is so driven to do good things such as saving the earth by going to other worlds via planetary travel, saving the environment by addressing global warming, saving man from the ravages of disease, developing super capacitors to make EVs affordable for the common man, that I doubt that he can stay focused on one thing for a long time. That’s the trouble with genius. You end up biting off more than you can chew. With so many interests and with so much money, how long will he be focused on his projects before he finds some other malady that he must conquer??

    Given that the man makes a wonderful EV, albeit far short of his goal of universal and affordable EVs for the common man, I question his ability to reduce the price of his vehicles to a point where Everyman will be able to purchase them. The man is also a marketing genius in that he builds only enough vehicles for early adopters to be sucked in by their allure (power, torque, good looks). Alas, Everyman is not included.

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