Tesla’s first SUV, the Model X, is finally hitting the road

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Elon Musk unveils Tesla Model X, his safest, most feature-packed vehicle yet.

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. Telsa Motors delivered the first of its long-awaited Model X electric sports-utility vehicles on Tuesday, a product investors are counting on to make the pioneering company profitable after years of losses.

Tesla founder Elon Musk likes to push the boundaries when it comes to the new technology his companies create, and the new Model X car is no different. Tesla appears to finally be staking its claim in the world of fast cars, with a monster electric SUV that is not only the safest ever built, but can do 0 to 60 in just over three seconds.

CEO Elon Musk says the Model X sets a new bar for automotive engineering, with unique features like rear falcon-wing doors, which open upward, and a driver’s door that opens on approach and closes itself when the driver is inside. Musk estimated that 25,000 customers had pre-ordered the crossover online or in its stores and that it would take 8-12 months for those ordering from now to receive the SUV. “There is far more there than is really necessary to sell a car. And some of the things are so difficult, they make the car better but the difficulty of engineering those parts is so high.” Between 4,000-6,000 guests filled a cavernous space for the launch. There is actually a button on the dashboard that activates a bio-defence mode, and when powered up, Musk claims the Model X’s filters will be able to get rid of the sort of toxins released by biological weapons.

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. Priced as high as $144,000, it features so-called “falcon-wing” doors that open upward rather than to the side – controlled by sensors that can modulate the height to clear garage ceilings—seats that can be adjusted separately and a panoramic windshield that extends overhead. Musk said the biggest challenges were making the doors open in a graceful “balletic” manner, the expansive windshield – which he said was the largest piece of glass ever used in a car – plus its sun visor and the moveable seats, which he said were deceptively tricky. It is betting that high-performance and stylish offerings will boost acceptance amid a sea of alternatives, such as hybrids or electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. Tesla predicted its SUV would receive 5-star safety ratings in all categories, based on data from its crash tests, due to its low center of gravity, which helps reduce rollovers.

The buzz surrounding Tesla’s Model S sedan – whose P85D variant won a top score of 100 from Consumer Reports magazine in August – has managed to preempt high-end German rivals such as Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche, BMW and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. At the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this month, Audi unveiled its e-tron quattro sport-utility vehicle, and Porsche showed off its first battery-powered sports car, although neither will be available before 2018.

In August, Musk said Tesla would make between 50,000-55,000 Model S and Model X vehicles this year, with the capacity for 1,600-1,800 vehicles per week on its production line next year. Tuesday’s unveiling showcased the top-of-the-line “Signature” Model X, priced between $132,000 and $144,000, with optional add-ons such as acceleration upgrades, packages for subzero weather package or towing. All crash test expectations have been exceeded by the new SUV, because instead of an engine up front, it has a large crumple zone, complete with aluminum pillars reinforced by steel rails.

Completing this feature roundup is the ridiculously high-tech air filtration system that promises to have you safe and protected inside the locked Model X. 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. However, with others quickly entering the electric car market, it seems that some form of future technology that helps better insulate the driver from such dangers may soon be on the way.

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