Autovolt Magazine

Tesla Unveils Model X

Tesla have finally taken the wraps off their highly anticipated electric SUV, the Model X. Taking to the stage, CEO Elon Musk stated his pride in the Tesla team that have worked so hard to make Model X a reality since it was first unveiled as a concept in 2013.

Styling is predictably and pleasantly unchanged from that of the concepts, with the most notable change being to the front where Tesla have ditched the Model S’ black nose area that mimics a traditional radiator grille, at least visually. Instead, Model X sports a much cleaner front end that denotes Tesla’s progression and could be a hint toward the Model 3.

Safety is high on the priority, with Mr Musk giving the subject a lot of detail and time to explain Model X’s safety accolades. For the first time in the NHTSA’s American safety testing standards, Model X achieved five stars in all criteria tested. Naturally, not having a large combustion engine lump to deviate in the event of an incident makes safety all that more simple to create ‘perfect’ crash structures and safety cells. Model S has half the rollover potential when compared to other SUV’s on the market, thanks to its low centre of mass.

Tesla Model X driving

Being an electric car, no finer point was made with regard to the lack of emissions. Further to this was talk about the air filter with Elon Musk stating that living in the world’s largest and busiest cities is damaging to health and reduces life expectancy. Model X features several air filters that aim to reduce these harmful emissions in the air. Comically, and in keeping with Tesla’s sense of humour a bio-hazard button has been added to the air controls to set the system to its highest level of air filtration.

When the concept first appeared, much of the noise made about it was thanks to its gullwing doors. Mere conetations of seagulls, however, was not sufficient for Tesla who have renamed them falcon wing doors. Fortunately, these have remained for the rear occupants, while the front passengers have more conventional doors. However, there is an additional showpiece by way of the front doors automatically open themselves when they detect the driver (with the key) approaches. When the driver sits down, they also automatically close.

The rear falcon wing doors, as well as raising upwards, offer functional improvements for people with children, who lift their kids into seats, reducing back strain. Similarly, the rear doors are able to rise in a very limited space, making access to the car much easier than might first be expected. Tesla demonstrated this onstage with a couple of competing SUVs parking it in. However, despite this clever function, getting into the front of the car would still prove just as difficult. Cleverly, sensors have been used for the doors that automatically adjust and detect their surroundings so that even in low height garages, the doors can be opened.

The rear seats are also able to be moved forward electronically at the push of a button, enabling access to the third row and a full seven seats in total.

Many SUV owners will question the towing capability of an all electric car and Model X is certainly able to tow your average caravan with ease. On stage, Tesla brought out a Model X towing anAirStream aluminium caravan and stated it can two 5,000 lbs (approx. 2.250 kg) while carrying seven people and, “quite a lot of luggage”.

Luggage capacity is similar to the Model S and sports the much loved ‘frunk’. Furthermore, Tesla have developed an ‘accesories hitch’ (accessory carrier) that can be clipped into place in just a few seconds to carry skis or a bicycle.

There are currently only two Model X available at launch with specs as follows;

Range 250 miles for P90D
Top Speed 155 miles per hour
Zero-60 3.2 seconds for Ludicrous P90D
3.8 seconds for P90D
Quarter Mile 11.7 seconds for Ludicrous P90D
12.2 seconds for P90D
Motor Power 259 hp front, 503 hp rear
Motor Torque 713 lb-ft combined
244 lb-ft/330 Nm front
479 lb-ft/600 Nm rear
US MPGe 89 MPGe for P90D
Weight 5,441 lbs.
Towing Capacity 5,000 lbs.
Drag Coefficient 0.24

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Following the launch, the first five were delivered to American customers. Tesla do not yet have specific timelines for the UK, but first deliveries are expected to start in 2016. Crucially, price is the big question mark. Reuters reported that prices may start from $132,000 for the initial models offered. However, there are plans to expand the range to the more affordable end of the market for Model X and Elon Musk is quoted as saying, “$5,000 more than a comparable Model S”.