Tesla launches stunning Model X SUV, one-year backlog for new orders

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Finally! Tesla launches Model X SUV.

Dubbed the Tesla Model X, the highly anticipated all-electric SUV crossover was revealed Tuesday night by car magnate and engineer Elon Musk, and critics are already praising it as “gorgeous” and “futuristic.” The four-door car of the future can hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, tops out at 155 mph, requires no gas to operate and only needs to be charged every 257 miles.Tesla last night officially unveiled its new Model X SUV, a futuristic-looking electric vehicle that CEO Elon Musk called the safest sports utility vehicle ever.

Electric-car impresario Elon Musk unveiled his long-awaited crossover SUV at a splashy presentation late Tuesday, showing off a slew of nifty features including computer-controlled “falcon-wing” doors.Tesla’s Model X — one of the only all-electric SUVs on the market — was officially unveiled Tuesday night near the company’s Fremont, Calif., factory.The 44-year-old South African said at the long-overdue official launch party on Tuesday evening at the Tesla plant in Fremont: “Any type of car can go electric. Taking the stage at Tesla’s factory outside San Francisco before a crowd of journalists and Tesla fanatics, Musk quickly showed off the benefits of the gull wing-like doors, delicately raising themselves while the Model X was sandwiched between a pair of minivans parked just inches away from it on either side.

Three words come to mind following Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model X launch party – the second such launch party, as the first one took place on February 9, 2012: Ouch, ouch and ouch. The doors to the vehicle — whose price tag will top out at above $140,000 — use ultrasonic signals to compute their opening arc depending on ceiling height and side obstacles.

Familiar Tesla styling cues such as the LED headlights and sloping roofline combine with a three-position active rear spoiler to give it claimed drag coefficient of just 0.24. It also has what Musk says is “the largest windshield in production”, stretching back to gull-wing rear doors that can be opened from a distance, with sensors adjusting the angle to avoid other cars parked close by. The car has radar and sonar systems that allow for partial self-driving and automated braking, a 17-inch state-of-the-art touchscreen, and a massive panoramic glass windshield — all while comfortably fitting seven adults and all their belongings. The cutting-edge all-electric car — Musk’s latest in a line that strives to be powerful, sexy and environmentally friendly all at once — also boasts a windshield so massive that it almost doubles as a sun roof. Musk, who also founded space exploration company Space X, and who has a large family, mentioned his twins as he highlighted the SUV’s three rows of seats.

Musk and his engineers even added a highly developed air filtration system so powerful and effective, it would protect passengers from a biological attack when set to the “bioweapon defense mode.” Musk quipped at the event, “If there’s ever an apocalyptical scenario, press the button.” This latest Tesla car is designed after its predecessor the Model S P90D sedan which was released in 2012, and has so far sold 90,000 cars. U.S. luxury SUV sales were up 17 percent through August, five times better than the industry as a whole. “If Tesla’s going to be a more significant player, they need more products, and SUVs are what the market is demanding,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with the car buying site AutoTrader.com. The second row has either two individual seats or a three-seat bench, for a total of six or seven seats, and the third row folds flat when not in use to make room for luggage. The floor-mounted battery pack lowers the car’s centre of gravity and strengthens the monocoque against side impact, while the front ‘engine compartment’ becomes a large boot that’s also a impact-absorbing crumple zone.

The car includes parking sensors, blind spot and side collision warnings, automatic keyless entry, GPS-enabled Homelink, and maps and navigation with real time traffic updates. There’s even a button on the instrument panel that looks like a biohazard sign, which you presumably would enact in the event of trying to escape thermonuclear fallout. There’s also a bioweapon defense mode button (yes, it’s a real button, Musk confirmed) that strips outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses, and pollution before circulating it into the car, Tesla said. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Musk, who recently backed off a forecast for Tesla to produce 55,000 cars this year, sending the company’s shares tumbling last month when he admitted the number could be as low as 50,000. The standard 90D has a 190kW electric motor on each axle, taking it from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds, with an estimated battery range of 400km.

The range-topping P90D has 190kW front and a 370kW rear motor, and hits the hundred in 3.8 seconds (or 3.2, with the aptly-named Ludicrous Speed upgrade). But in Tuesday’s event, Musk kept mum on the crucial question of timing as he handed off keys to the first five Model X owners, including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson. Extra-cost options include air suspension, an active safety system that automatically applies the brakes in an emergency – even at highway speeds – and a ‘bioweapon defence mode’ that lightly pressurises the cabin to blow any nasty fumes out. Musk reckons on combined Model S and Model X sales of 50 000 to 55 000 a year, increasing to 500 000 a year by 2020 with the planned introduction of the smaller, more affordable Model 3 in 2018, at a planned base price of $35 000 (R485 000). Tesla unveiled a prototype Model X—its third battery-powered vehicle—in early 2012 (video below), racking up $40 million in reservations in just one day.

Those included top safety ratings for head-on collisions, doors that are twice as resistant to side impacts as the competition and a broad, low-seated battery that prevents rollovers. The car was expected in the second quarter of 2015, but was pushed back to the third quarter as Tesla added more testing time “to achieve the best Model X possible.” Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

CNBC’s Phil LeBeau tweeted by quoting Elon as saying that “In retrospect, if we’d known the true engineering costs, we would have done far fewer new things.” In other words, this project is going to take too long, and cost way too much money. The doors — and the Tesla-designed second-row seats, which all move independently — were among the reasons the Model X’s launch was delayed several times. With this Model X disaster on his hands, could Elon have at least tried to sprinkle at least some hope to the financial community, dangling any carrot at all in order to give financial comfort? This time, one quarter later, I am assuming Tesla will approximately meet its 3Q guidance of 11,532 cars delivered in 3Q, but on balance, the risk is looking more on the downside than it did two months ago. Some people who are into risky features may be attracted to it, at least as long as there aren’t too many other people in town who can show off the same thing when they park outside the restaurant/club.

I agree that the car looks great, is a good package in a solid SUV body size (although would have been better with conventional doors), but those aren’t sufficient reasons for the car to sell well beyond the first 20,000 enthusiasts, after the first year.

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