Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed the Tesla Model X prototype to the world today at the site of his other big endeavor, the Space X rocket factory in southern California, which builds the Falcon 9 rocket ship.
The signature feature of the Model X prototype is a falcon of a different kind, what Tesla calls falcon-wing doors, a two-piece articulated gullwing door. Unlike ‘ordinary’ gullwings, the Model X’s powered articulation allows them to stay close to the car’s sides as they rise, making ingress and egress in tight parking spots a snap, just step in and sit down. Musk stood up under them to show how much room there is with the falcon doors in full flight. The opening’s unusually long length also helps accessing the Model X’s twin, third-row seats (there are seven seats in all).
While the Tesla Model X is still of course a prototype with many details that will change, it will share much with its Model S sedan sibling, including its imposing 17-inch hi-res, multi-touch display and its overall vehicle architecture.
Also the same as the Model S will be its pancake-flat, under-floor battery packs in two sizes (60 and 85 kW-hrs). The small, 40 kW-hr size will only be available in the S. Given the bigger size and weight of the Model X, range will likely be at least 10 percent less than what is expected from the Model S, somewhere between about 214 to 267 miles depending on the battery. Recharge times are unchanged at about four hours for the big battery.
Extending the Model X’s extruded structure between the front and rear cast aluminum subframes has allowed the wheelbase to grow by about four inches over the Model S. Combined with the low, flat battery and the small-size and low-positioning of the electric motors (a second, front motor with about half the rear’s estimated 300 horsepower will be optional), there’s room galore. There’s a generous rear cargo hold even with the third-row seat erected, plus a decent front trunk as well. The Model X’s air suspension will allow it to vary its ride height by about an inch. Musk estimated the Model X will weigh between 10-15 percent more than the Model S at about 4700 lbs.
Tesla says power can be transferred instantly between the front and rear motors (lateral distribution being via individual brake application). There’s also greater regen braking available. Musk claims the Model X will move from 0-to-60 in as little as 4.4 seconds to 60 mph (from presumably a sport edition). Pricing is expected to about the same as the Model S, which starts at $49,900 after the Federal tax credit. Production of the Model X is expected to start late next year with volume delivery happening in 2014. -Photos by Jason Davis