Since the beginning, Tesla Motors has been a different company. It’s a car company, perhaps the most successful in the last half-a-century, as well as a tech company, which makes it somewhat hard to approach from a traditional automaker standpoint.
After the Tesla Roadster made its debut, its success enabled the company to move the Tesla Model S into mass production and mass enhancement. True, the Tesla Model S isn’t produced anywhere close to the scale of the competition, such as the luxury and performance cars it’s supplanting, but it’s just a great car, and that makes it desirable.
Tesla Motors’ next magic trick has been a long time in coming, and finally we get to see the results of years of research, development, and so-called setbacks. Really, the slow production of the Tesla Model S and the later-than-promised release of the Tesla Model X, in spite of some opinions, isn’t a sign of Tesla Motors trouble, but the company’s unwavering dedication to making a good car. As a former master technician, faced with the glitches and gremlins present in many new automobiles and technologies, I can totally appreciate Tesla Motors’ doing its best not to annoy the customer. So, with the final reveal of the Tesla Model X, what exactly is it?
Chassis and Body
Like the Tesla Model S and the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the Tesla Model X is based on a structural battery pack and powertrain. The 90 kWh lithium-ion battery pack sits under the floor, with the suspension components and electric motor-generators hanging off the front and rear. The result, dynamically-speaking, is a low center of gravity, which should make this seven-passenger sport utility vehicle handle more like a sport sedan.
Featuring enough space for up to seven passengers, the Tesla Model X is not quite like other SUVs in form, and it certainly doesn’t match anything in the this-is-an-suv handbook, which is absolutely not a problem. The profile is far more streamlined than even modern SUVs, which is perfect for slicing through the wind and maximizing range, much like the very slippery Model S. The doors are another unique addition, the second-row doors featuring dual hinges that open out and up, Tesla’s “Falcon-Wing” doors, revealing a lot of headroom and hip room for second- and third-row access.
Powertrain and Performance
We already mentioned the Tesla Model X skateboard battery pack, packing 90 kWh of chemical energy storage, but we didn’t mention what it could do with it. Tesla Motors pegs range at 257 miles, which is slightly less than the Tesla Model S 90, but it’s also a bigger monster, so we’re not disappointed. Given that it has two MGs, one front and one rear, the Tesla Model X benefits from a number of important performance boosts.
The all-electric all-wheel drive system makes for all-road and all-weather stability, as well as exceptional performance, and towing capability. Will you need to accelerate from zero to sixty in 3.2 seconds, faster than some supercars, or tow 5,000 pounds? Probably not, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. Actually, come to think of it, tack on a solar camper trailer, with car charger, and a sailboat (wind power), and you’ve got the perfect zero-emissions getaway vehicle!
Of course, the last thing that we have to mention is pricing, announcements of which have been so far limited to the 90D and P90D, referring to 90 kWh capacity, dual-motor all-wheel drive, and the performance spec. The Tesla Model X 90D Signature will start at $132,000, while the P90D Founder will require a $10,000 premium. First deliveries are expected maybe as early as Summer 2016, with future model expansion to be announced later.