The design prototype unveiled this week by Tesla is said to combine the “attributes of an SUV with the utility of a minivan” – and when the wraps came off Model X at the Tesla Design Studio in Los Angeles, what was revealed was a vehicle spacious enough to seat seven adults, in three rows of seats.
This is Tesla, so it comes as no surprise that Model X is powered by what the manufacturer rather long-windedly calls ‘Dual Electric Motor All Wheel Drive’, with a flat battery positioned along the floor to give maximum luggage space both at the rear, and under the bonnet. Tesla claims its AWD system – which redirects torque when it senses slippage – not only offers improved traction but, “unlike in a combustion engine vehicle”, does so without sacrificing efficiency or acceleration.
More surprising, however, are the Falcon Wing doors – an innovative design element that would certainly cause a lot of excitement in the supermarket car park. The doors open up, out and over, to give superb access to the interior, even allowing an adult to stand within the car, perhaps to position a child seat in the middle row. The second row seats then slide, to give access to the third row.
Says Tesla CEO Elon Musk, “Our cars have to be better than those with internal combustion engines, otherwise we will not succeed. Our new Model X is as dynamic as a sports car; it’s a spacious van suitable for everyday use as an SUV.”
Future Model X customers will have the choice of a 60 or 85kWh battery, while the interior will come equipped with the Tesla touchscreen, 17-inch display that includes driver controls, vehicle apps, and web connectivity. Options will be include a panoramic roof and a more upmarket interior.
According to Tesla, the price will be competitive against existing premium SUVs. Production, at the Tesla factory in Fremont, CA, will begin in late 2013, with the first deliveries scheduled for early 2014.