TESLA TURNS UP THE JUICE
Tesla’s new Model X
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, Feb 17, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John Grafman Generally, if someone asks me to spend an evening in Hawthorne, I pass on the opportunity. However, as this is the home of Tesla Motors design studio, and on this particular evening the new Model X is being unveiled, I rethink my standard answer. The huge facility is adjacent to the Hawthorne airport, which is appropriate considering Elon Musk, Tesla Motors founder, has a side venture called Space X residing right here. While the point is to unveil the new Model X, the entire Tesla model line-up, new and old, is shining brightly. And one has to look past the reveal of the Model X to see what this night is all about.
With about a few thousand attending, this is Tesla’s chance to impress. The message here is that this is a company that isn’t just a one-trick pony. The take-away is, Tesla is a full-fledge automotive manufacturer that’s here to stay. The importance of this event cannot be understated. The original model, the Roadster, is now unavailable in the USA for sale (Roadsters are still sold in other countries). The Model S sedan won’t be in production until later this year, perhaps six months away, but less with any luck. The Model X will be sometime thereafter. So, the company doesn’t want the believers and soon to be customers to lose faith. This event is complete with all the bells and whistles a company can house under one roof. A number of celebrities make this mid-week debut including Actor Jon Favreau, Actress Garcelle Beauvais, Actress Malin Akerman and musician Roberto Zincone. They are joined by actors Jason Ritterand Chris Evans, model Caroline D'Amore, and Scientist/TV Guy Bill Nye. Starting off the presentation, California Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown gets the crowd pumped up, albeit Jerry has very little to say of any substance. But, just his presence is enough to emphasis how important this California company is to the economy, and the importance of alternative forms of transportation to the world.
Governor Brown hands off the microphone to Elon Musk, Telsa’s equivalent of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Elon in his trademark casual style gives us a brief overview of Tesla. A quick roll out of the Model S sedan amps the masses to a crescendo for the moment that the Model X comes out on stage. As expected, the new transport, the Model X, is a people mover that has the potential to sell in large numbers. This crossover can haul seven full-size people, as demonstrated by the design studio personnel that pile out of the X once it comes to a stop. Included in the seven are Franz von Holzhausen, Chief of Design, and Dave Morris, Head of Modeling. Both of these highly talented guys, as well as the others on board for this demo, are well above the national average in height and could easily pass for basketball or volleyball players. Now, as the Model S is a 5+2 (kids), was it really necessary that the company produced another seven-seater? Well, given that Elon and his wife have one set of triplets (as does VIP guest Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, member of the House Committee on Science Space and Technology) and one set of twins, seven seats does seem like the right number. Having a handful of kids does get one thinking environmentally. In California, given our limited ability to produce electricity, the Model X still produces just 25 percent of the carbon pollution of a conventional SUV. In states that produce electricity in a greener manner, the pollution at the power plant can be almost nil, which substantially improves the Model’s green appeal.
A feature sure to set the Model X apart from the flock is the falcon-wing doors. These are similar in nature to gullwing doors, but this door is designed for the second and third row passengers. This will shelter those coming in or out from rainy weather, and will make it easier to load kids in to baby seats, as the parents can actually stand in front to the seat without ducking, or hitting the door or roof. The actuation of the door also allows for ease of use in tight parking situations and typical garages. Saying the Model X has a ton of room is like saying Adele is a decent singer. Beside the Hawthorne Seven, the X swallows a boatload of luggage in the rear. Unfortunately, the demo of the front trunk (a frunk) hit a snag, and it didn’t go as planned. However, Elon assures us of the added capacity. And true to his word, once the hood opens after some proper persuasion the well reveals a capacity that provides for plenty of luggage. Or, if this was in an updated version of Goodfellas with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, about a body or so - if folded properly. Another way to look at this, the Tesla offer about the same exterior size as an Audi Q7, but it has about 40 percent more interior room. We are accustomed to SUVs and Crossovers being able to tote people and cargo. But few can do that and still manage 0-60 in 4.4 seconds (.4 seconds faster to 60 than a Porsche 911 Carrera according to the manufacturer). This is in part due to an optional drive system on both the front and rear ends allowing for more torque and directing the most power to where it provides the most performance. The X will also have the option of a 60 or 85 kWh battery. So, if you wonder what advantages the electric powertrain can offer, one just has to look at the X. Economy, size, and performance are all selling points.
Elon is quick to mention that this uses the existing platform from the Model S, which allows for faster generation of new models. Now, does this function as well as traditional SUVs? Well, one could suggest that with the car reading the traction at each wheel thousands of times in a few moments, the X should be able to adjust the power accordingly. On the flip side, will this also have the ground clearance and suspension flexibility to deal with true off-road situations? Time will tell. As Elon wraps up the reveal in his very low-key, relaxed manner, the attendees swarm the stage like rabid soccer fans after a disappointing match, but without the destruction or bloodshed. Now, you can tell a lot about a company not just in its products, but how it presents itself. Tesla always seems apart from the corporate Detroit track. The general attitude is reflective of the Southern California roots. Elon and the Model X leave the stage to make way for a little after-hour entertainment. The attendees bask in the music of Foster The People. This band is relatively new to most, but the group nearly blows the roof off the former hanger. For those that didn’t see the band this evening, Foster The People provides us a second opportunity at the Grammy Awards. So, what’s the meaning of this? Tesla is willing to take chances, explore, and ultimately find its own soundtrack. The company is eager to create a world where the traditional methods are constantly questioned in an effort to develop a better company and product.
Undoubtedly, once the Model X hits the road this will be a unique proposition and possibly a game changer for those looking for minivan utility and SUV personality. In this world of immediate gratification and returns on investments, the only question that’s left to be answered is – can both the company and consumers hold on that long? Well, in just one day after the intro, and without any advertising, Tesla racks up in excess of $40 million dollars in sales. I’m pretty certain at this point Elon is quoting actor Jeff Goldblum’s words in both Jurassic Park and Independence Day, “Must go faster!” For more information, click here