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January 15, 2013

Tesla's New Crossover Model Has the Crucial 'X Factor'



When you think Tesla, you don’t necessarily think “family car.” But following the rollout of its spitfire Roadster and its sophisticated Model S, the company has not slacked off. It has brought out a concept crossover, the Model X, that is to vehicles what John Stamos is to women — hot yet kid-friendly, rangy yet sporty, smooth yet quirky, and totally out of our league yet altogether irresistible.

On January 15 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, entrepreneur, adventurer and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the new seven-seat, all-wheel-drive, pure electric vehicle — which still will go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.4. seconds — “will be our most important and highest-volume car.” 

Photo courtesy of Tesla

An hour after General Motors (News - Alert) unveiled its Cadillac ELR luxury electric coupe, Tesla sales executive George Blankenship said he was still confident that the start-up’s offerings would make auto aficionados swoon. "I don't care what you say, there is no competition at this show for us," he told reporters.

The most eye-catching and utilitarian feature of the new EV is a “falcon-wing door” that offers “unparalleled” accessibility for passengers, Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen said. Instead of opening outward, the back doors open straight up, reminiscent of the 1980s’ DeLorean, which also was a darling among the car crowd. The X will fit in the tightest space and still provide riders with room to exit.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Von Holzhausen said the Model X’s “muscular, sinewy feel” and “athletic poise and character” are characteristics the company values. “You’ll see that in every Tesla going forward,” he predicted.

Blankenship said the company would sell 20,000 Model S vehicles in 2013. The company produced about 3,000 in 2012, but declined to reveal specific numbers today.

The vehicles are built at a manufacturing facility in California that was formerly operated as a joint venture between Toyota and GM. They will be sold at Tesla dealerships including 13 new storefronts opening this year, for a total of 33 worldwide and 23 in North America.

Unlike other automakers, Tesla likes to locate its dealerships in upscale malls. Considering that the Model X offers two roomy trunks — one in front and one in back — mom and dad can go shopping after they purchase the car without worrying where they will fit their purchases.

So where is the battery? It has been cleverly concealed underneath the platform of the vehicle to conserve space. The same three battery pack sizes that were offered with the Model S also will be offered with the Model X— 40, 60, and 85 kilowatt-hours.

The Model X will start at $49,900 after a $7,500 federal tax credit, with added optional features pricing the vehicle up to a possible $90,000 total. The company is “now taking reservations” for the Model X; it will be available in 2014.




Edited by Rich Steeves

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