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.

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.

The launch of the Model X represents a milestone for the loss-making Silicon Valley automaker during a period of high spending and modest growth, because it can now boast a second model in production beyond its Model S sedan, launched in 2012. “I think we got a little carried away with the X,” Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told reporters ahead of a launch event near the company’s Fremont factory, where luxury Model Xs have been moving down the production line in recent weeks, nearly two years behind the company’s original schedule. 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. Admittedly, the stuff he does is quite stupendous–from building reusable rockets to batteries that can power homes, it’s all potentially life changing really.

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. On the consumer level, his electric supercar the Tesla Model S has been breaking all kinds of records, even prompting reviewers to redefine their benchmarking standards. 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. These doors have built-in sensors preventing them from bumping into anything while unfurling up and outward, making it so evocative of the predatory bird.

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. The ‘P’ indicates the performance mode (boasting its infamous Ludicrous launch control mode), 90 is the capacity of its batteries in kilowatt-hours (kWh), and D is for its all-wheel drive. 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.

Even though this is a proper seven-seater with room for luggage, the high-end version of this car can propel its passengers from standstill to 100 Kmph in about 3.8 seconds, which is about the same as an Aston-Martin Vantage V12 S. 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 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.

On the driver safety front the car brims with an array of camera, radar and sonar systems that scan the environment continually, making it capable of applying brakes in case of an emergency–on its own–even at highway speeds. 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. It is also perhaps one of the only cars that have a medical grade filter in its air conditioning system that strips air of pollen, bacteria and viruses before it enters the cabin.

True to Tesla style, it’s even got a ‘bioweapon defense’ mode that actually creates a positive pressure within the cabin to protect its occupants–ideal when you’re rolling past that open swamp. 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. 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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