- Tesla Motors launched its Model X electric car, presented as the safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history.
- Rave reviews for the Model X, a flawless and "ludicrous" family car with the high performance of a sports car.
- The Model X took two years longer to produce than originally forecast because Tesla introduced ambitious new features.
- The entry level Model X, the 90D, costs $132,000, and the "ludicrous" higher-tier version P90D costs $142,000.
- The expensive Model X could reinforce the Tesla mistique and prepare the way for massive sales of the cheaper Model 3, due in 2017.
Tesla Model X Launched
Electric car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk delivered six Model X sport-utility vehicles to a select group of early investors and board members at a Tesla launch event on Tuesday, in front of thousands of customers and fans. Musk spoke to reporters before the event.
"Ever the showman, Tesla boss Elon Musk presented the new vehicle himself, talking the assorted journalists in the crowd through its features, and presenting the first buyers of the Model X with their pre-ordered vehicles live on stage," notes The Verge. The Tesla Model X launch event was live-streamed, recorded, and shared on YouTube.
"Model X is the safest, fastest and most capable sport utility vehicle in history," notes the updated Tesla Model X web page. "Standard with all-wheel drive and a 90 kWh battery providing 250 miles of range, Model X has ample seating for seven adults and all of their gear. And it's ludicrously fast, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds. Model X is the SUV uncompromised."
According to unofficial estimates, Tesla has taken over 30 thousand reservations for the Model X. The estimated delivery for new reservations is the latter half of 2016. The Model X took two years longer to produce than originally forecast as the company added new features, like the doors that lift upward from the vehicle.
I think we got a little carried away with the X,” said Musk. “If we had known the true engineering costs and complexity, we would have done fewer things."
In a review titled "Tesla’s Model X Is Here, and It’s as Awesome As We Hoped." Wired notes that Model X is a Model S on steroids, and the first electric luxury SUV. "The X is, in a word, stunning," notes the review. "Its most amazing features are its mind-bending acceleration, gorgeous design, and amazing rear passenger doors. Tesla calls them 'falcon' doors, because they lift like the wings of a bird."
Like the Model S, the Model X has a 90 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery and “quick charges” at one of Tesla’s stations in 30 minutes. The drive motors (259 horsepower at the front, 503 at the rear), control software, and (semi) autonomous capabilities. are also similar to the Model S.
Wired notes that the most impressive thing about the Model X is the overall impression it imparts, and concludes that "Tesla has made the family car cool."
Reserving a Model X requires a $5,000 reservation payment. The entry level Model X, the 90D, costs $132,000, and the "ludicrous" higher-tier version P90D costs $142,000. The high price point means that the Model X won't be a mass market car, but an expensive high-performance family car for the high middle class.
The Wall Street Journal noted in September that the Model X is expected to boost Tesla’s volume and help it transition from niche car maker to a player with higher volumes. Tesla aims to sell between 50,000 to 55,000 vehicles in 2015, a sharp increase compared with 2014, and is aiming to eventually boost annual global volume to 500,000 with lower-priced cars. Following the Model X launch, attention will turn to Tesla’s planned introduction of the lower-priced Model 3 electric cars, due in 2017.
"Model 3, our smaller and lower cost sedan will start production in about 2 years. Fully operational Gigafactory needed," Musk announced on Twitter on September 2. "$35k price, unveil in March, preorders start then," he added. The Wall Street Journal observed that, if everything goes according to plan, the Model 3 will help Tesla transition into a mainstream car company, but the company needs to start worrying about competitors.
That is, of course, always the case. However, the Model X, a flawless and "ludicrous" family car with the high performance of a sport car, could push Tesla's stock higher, reinforce the Tesla mystique, and further establish Tesla electric cars as objects of desire and status symbols for those who can afford them - like Apple iPhones and iPads, which sell massively despite being priced higher than competing products. When the cheaper Model 3 is launched, many eager new customers are likely to be waiting in line.