Tesla reveals the Model X, an all-electric SUV that's faster than a Porsche 911
This evening Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed the long-awaited Model X electric SUV before a huge crowd at the SpaceX headquarters in Torrance CA, and over the Internet via livestream to viewers around the world. What would it be like to drive an all-electric SUV that's faster than a Porsche 911? You'll have to wait until 2013 to find out.
The Tesla Model X is built on the same architectural base as the Model S sedan, but biggified to become an SUV. Tesla designed the Model S so it could be used as the platform to build other cars, and the Model X is the first of those cars. Like the Model S, the X supports up to three rows of seats, but there's a large cargo area behind the rear row of seats. Again, like the Model S, there is an additional cargo area in the front, which Elon Musk wants us to call a "frunk." (get it? frunk? front trunk?) This is a word sure to cause those of us who own classic VW's to scratch their heads. In any case, because the Model X doesn't have an engine and all the stuff the designer would normally put in the front, Tesla decided to make that space into a large cargo area that also acts as a large crumple zone in case of accidents. The three rows of seats plus cargo translates into "7 full size adults plus all their luggage." Effectively that's larger than typical minivans.
Visually the Model X looks similar to the Model S, however side-by-side the X is definitely much larger. The most visually striking feature of the Model X is the doors for the second row of seats. They're not gull wing doors, but what Tesla calls "falcon wing" doors. Gull wing doors swing out before reaching upward to the sky, while the Model X falcon wing doors work significantly differently. The Model X doors are double hinged so that as you open the door, the arc it follows doesn't go out too far from the car. The problem with gull wing doors is they're impossible to open when in a tight parking lot, because the door hits the car next to yours. Because the falcon wing doors open upward, they can be opened even in tight parking, making them even better than the typical sliding doors which take up some of the space in the gap between parked cars.