• Feb 21, 2012
Earlier this month at Tesla's Los Angeles Design Center, we got a preview of what's next for the Silicon Valley-based EV company. It's called the Model X and, as its successive name would suggest, X is an evolution of S, sharing about 60% of its content with Model S. Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk; CTO, JB Straubel; and Chief Designer, Franz Von Holzhausen, were in attendance to answer questions and give some insight into what Model X is all about. "Model X has more utility than a minivan, and better performance, much better performance than an SUV," said Musk.



More than just stunning specs, Tesla has gone the route of focusing on practicality. Model X's target buyers are families that want greater cargo and passenger room, require AWD and are eco-conscious. And, in keeping with high practicality, Tesla plans to install super-charging stations along major highway corridors on California's west coast. This will extend their customers' range when taking long road trips and shorten charge times to 45 min--all for free.

Just like the Model S, X owners can choose a 60 or 85 kWh battery option, but the smaller 40 kWh battery offered on Model S will not be available. In addition to the slightly different battery lineup, Model X will be available with an electric motor placed in the front. The added weight, larger profile, and extra motor are said to impact Model X's range about 10-12% under Model S. Expect to see distances from 214-267 miles on a single charge.

After Musk talked about the Model X's distinct design we got a chance to go for a brief ride around Tesla's parking lot. Despite Tesla's claims, we can't say officially that the Model X is faster than a 911--the short straightaway didn't allow for high speeds--but, we did feel the electric motor's massive torque come on instantly and it did feel like it could be quite quick.



As for the driving dynamics, the Model X has all but eliminated the feeling of body roll due to its very low center of gravity. When looking at the diagram below, you can see that the batteries are actually below the motors and axle line. Together, with an advanced air suspension from Continental (similar to those found on the Audi Q7), the Model X's ride can be described as smooth and quiet.

Tesla Model X

The cabin's interior is also a major step forward. In our opinion, material quality surpasses that found on Model S. The wood trim is raw like we've seen in Audi's A7. The stitching feels premium and the metals all feel smooth and permanent. Besides the quality of the prototype's interior, much of the focus is on the massive 17-inch screen.

The 17-inch screen, which doesn't have a name yet, is again the driver's main controller of all functions. However, instead of placing the entire screen flush into the dash, like Model S, designers chose to differentiate by mounting only the lower portion onto the dash. The top is left floating, giving a greater feel of space, much like the new F30 BMW 3-series, except on a grander scale.

Elon Musk Tesla Model X

If that wasn't enough cool tech from the future, the new "falcon-wing" doors will certainly make a scene. Much like the gullwing doors of a Mercedes SLS, the falcon doors are hinged on the medial line of the roof, but unlike the SLS there is another hinge at the lateral edge of the roof. When fully-opened the car looks much like...well, a falcon. The design idea behind the doors are that they allow much easier ingress and egress for rear-seat passengers and also can open in tight parking situations.

With all the momentum Tesla has right now, it seems that Model X will also be a winner. Production is slated to start at the end of next year, and deliveries are expected in the beginning of 2014. Pricing is expected to be the same as similarly outfitted Model S vehicles, but considering the larger battery, you won't likely see a base price anywhere near the $50,000 starting point for Model S.


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