For the time being, Tesla is in the spotlight again, now with the debut of the 2016 Tesla Model X luxury crossover SUV – the first for Tesla. No matter that some analysts say Tesla stock is overvalued, consumers keep rating Tesla high – both buying the stock and showing interest in Tesla products. At a press event near the company’s factory in Fremont, California, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO, unveiled one of the world’s all-electric SUVs – complete with radical falcon-wing doors.
While the production version isn’t all that different from the concept revealed in 2012, there are some changes. The result: a sleek, fully electric, safe luxury crossover SUV, six of which were delivered to owners who were on-hand at the press event. Here’s what we know about the 2016 Tesla Model X:
Signature and Founder editions, which start at $132,000 and $142,000, respectively, are sold out. A few hours after the Fremont press event, Musk tweeted out that the base Model X will likely be in the range of $80,000, and that less expensive versions with a smaller battery may follow.
Two models will be available at start of production: the 90D all-wheel drive (with 257 miles per charge and 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds) and P90D performance version (with 250 miles per charge and 4.8 seconds time to do 0-60 mph).
The Model X makes use of the same electric drivetrain as thesedan, its breakout product. Both models will be built on the same production line, although the company told investors recently it will be focused on quality and won’t hesitate to slow output if suppliers’ parts aren’t up to specifications or a problem develops on the production line.
Tesla’s product information claims the Model X will be the world’s quickest SUV, with 0-60 mph times of 3.2 seconds (but that’s for those who choose the “ludicrous” speed upgrade to the P90D performance version). The downside of such fast acceleration, however, is likely to be a decrease in battery charge time.
Top speed is 155 mph – not that most consumers would every try to approach that upper limit.
A three-row SUV, the Model X has the interior space of a crossover – making it ideal for families who want to travel in an all-electric vehicle with space enough to accommodate their needs. Depending on configuration, it will seat six or seven people. The middle row automatically adjusts for easier loading and unloading. Each seat is mounted on a single impact-absorbing post and independently reclines. The third row conveniently folds flat.
For many consumers, the most unusual feature of the Model X is its rear double-hinged falcon-wing doors that open upward to allow access to the vehicle’s second row. Because the doors are up and out of the way, passengers can enter the vehicle from both front and rear directions. The upward opening also saves on parking lot dents. The doors feature built-in sensors to permit opening in garages of any height. Because Musk considers the doors the vehicle’s signature feature, he delayed the launch of the Model X for months just so the company could get the doors just right.
Factor in a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds – the first electric vehicle with this much towing capacity, according to Tesla. While this will definitely cut into the charge time of the battery, just like quick acceleration does, it’s still a selling point that will appeal to some consumers.
The Model X boasts a panoramic windshield that the company says is one of the largest windshields ever put on a vehicle. Passengers in the front will get a view of the sky and trees passing by as well as panoramic views of the road. The driver, of course, will be focused on the road, but will benefit from the open-air feeling of all that panoramic glass.
Many new safety features will be touted in the vehicle, the company promises. According to the company, the Model X has a low rollover susceptibility due to the fact that the batteries are placed low in the vehicle. The battery’s structure provides strength against side-impact intrusions. And, without a gasoline tank, the huge front trunk serves as a giant impact-absorbing crumple zone.
Active safety features in the Model X include camera, radar and sonar systems that continually scan the road and provide the driver with real-time feedback to avoid collisions. The Model X will automatically apply the brakes – even at highway speeds – in an emergency.
Perhaps the most unusual “safety” feature is the medical grade HEPA filter that is so powerful, it strips the outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution well before it gets inside the cabin. The filter has three modes: circulate with outside air, recirculate inside air, and the “bioweapons defense” mode that “creates positive pressure inside the cabin to protect occupants.”
If you want to become one of the owners of a 2016 Tesla Model X and place your order today, you’ll have to wait up to a year to get one. That’s according to Musk, who also insists the company is on track to sell 500,000 vehicles by the year 2020. This will include another all-new model, the lower priced Model 3, which is due sometime in 2017.
In the meantime, the 2016 Tesla Model X is all by itself in the all-electric luxury SUV market. But perhaps this won’t be for long. Audi has said it will have an all-electric SUV by 2018. The closest current competitor to the Model X has to be theplug-in hybrid (with a starting price just over $77,000).