HAWTHORNE, CA –Motors CEO Elon Musk answers the call for a better utility vehicle with a ride that fits seven adults, has loads of front and rear storage space, can go from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.4 seconds and, oh, looks like it has falcon wings.
Exterior styling of theModel X, unveiled at the electric-car maker’s design facility here south of Los Angeles, has been compared by the media to an Acura ZDX or 5 Series Gran Turismo.
Any similarities end there, Musk tells the hundreds of invited guests and media.
“What if you can have a car that has more functionality than a minivan, more style than an SUV and more performance than a sports car?” he says. “This is a product you’re going to love.”
The Model X’s two rear doors, which swing upward like falcon wings, easily are the show-stealers here. Thanks to an extra hinge, the doors fold into themselves in a way that allows them to open and close even in tight parking spaces.
“If you can physically fit between your car and another car, you can enter the door,” Musk says.
“It really fits perfectly everywhere you go,” he adds, noting even with the doors fully extended the cross/utility vehicle still fits comfortably in a standard-size garage.
When fully extended, the doors provide enough clearance for an adult to stand upright in the back of vehicle.
Space is another primary Model X feature. With the third-row seating deployed in other CUVs, “you can fit a couple of sleeping bags, a backpack and a rope,” Musk says. With the second and third rows folded flat “you can practically fit a queen-sized bed in there.”
The event’s biggest stumble comes when the Tesla CEO tries to show off the Model X’s front storage area. The door of the compartment, which Musk calls the “frunk,” an amalgamation of front and trunk, fails to open, despite the best efforts of two Tesla engineers.
The Model X will offer two battery options, rated at either 60 or 85 kWh. Buyers also will have three drivetrain options: rear-wheel drive; dual-motor all-wheel drive or dual-motor AWD with a performance boost that enables the car to reach 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
With dual-motor AWD, the second motor increases torque 50%. The vehicle’s center of gravity is lower than any other CUV, Tesla says, providing nimble handling.
Model X drivers will have “the best all-wheel-drive experience of any car, period,” Musk says. “Thousands of times a second, the car is figuring out where the most traction is and shifting power front to rear. This is something you can’t do in a regular all-wheel drive.”
Tesla doesn’t offer specifics of the Model X range, but in the Model S the lithium-ion packs with the 60- and 85-kWh ratings can go 230 miles (373 km) and 300 miles (486 km) between charges, respectively.
The Model S can recharge with either a 120Vt or 240V outlet, and Tesla says using the bigger line replenishes the car’s energy at a rate of 62 miles (100 km) of range per hour.
Expected to cost roughly the same as a Model S with similar features – about $90,000 – the Model X is set to go into production in late 2013, with deliveries starting in early 2014. Reservations for the Model X are being accepted at the company’s Website, teslamotors.com
“There’s 77 years of cars that, well, didn’t really quite do it. With the Model X you’ve got the falcon-wing design, you’ve got mountains of storage, seating for seven adults, incredible performance,” says Musk. “There’s no other car like this.”