Skip to main content

Tesla Motors Bets It All With Its Electric SUV Model X

After a few years of rumors, Tesla Motors finally announced it would build its electric SUV, much to our astonishment.

Join us...    

Tesla Motors is betting everything on the house that its new model will lure the American market into the EV team. The US is notorious for its love of big cars, spacious interior and ergonomics. While an electric SUV seems to be an oxymoron, as far removed in the automobile industry where weight is the number penalty for electric cars, as one can imagine, Tesla Motors is going ahead with its Model X. Rumored to be a PR stunt a few years back, the company seems serious enough to move forward. The questions are, is it feasible? Will it change consumer’s minds? And does Tesla actually have a chance of selling it?

Technically Speaking. The Model X will be based on the Model S sedan platform, as we had guessed. And for those of you who lament the fact that prototypes always look great but the final version leaves you feeling blah, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO announced it will look the same. So far, the company has never disappointed on aesthetics. The Model X innovates with a nifty optional Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive system, that placers a second motor on the front axle, enabling it to be a true all-weather, all-road capacity SUV. It increases torque by 50% and allows the AWD to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. This puts it in a category outperforming the fastest current SUVs.

The Models X will be available in three configurations, ranging from a simple rear-wheel drive, to an AWD and finally, the AWD Performance package. The basic versions will have a 60kWh battery pack, while the Performance package will sport an 85kWh unit. While range hasn't been disclosed, we can estimate it to be around 200 to 250 miles. As for the price, it will start at $49,900 for the basic version, which will climb to $97,900 for the Performance package.

The bet Tesla is taking on is a big challenge. Will consumer buy into an electric SUV? The Performance package certainly is enticing and what makes this car alluring is its door configuration, which Tesla named "Falcon Wing" doors, or more commonly known as gull wings. By open directly upward, people will have easy in and out access. The questions still remains, will it be enough to sway those from traditional SUVs? The Model X has a few positives, no tail pipe emission, tax incentives (if they continue after the next elections), aesthetics, the electric drive’s 100% torque delivery. On the minus sides range and price, the two biggest hurdles to EV adoptions are its Achilles heel. All in all, while many would never equate SUVs with an electric platform, Tesla stands a chance to find a sweet niche in the performance SUV market and its Model X will certainly shake conventions.

Join us...    


bonnie (not verified)    February 12, 2012 - 6:30PM

Will consumers buy an electric SUV? Yes.

I've already put a deposit down for the Model X - and it turns out that two of my co-workers have also done the same. One has small children, the other has a lot of gear to haul on a regular basis. Tesla has taken over 500 reservations (this is Sunday, reservations opened Friday at noon) already. Model X is another win for Tesla.

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 10:26AM

In reply to by bonnie (not verified)

Congratulations Bonnie! The gist of the article is that when you think about EVs, especially technically, an SUV is not the first thing that pops to mind. Of all the carmakers, Tesla is the only one who can pull it off. Let us know when you get to your first test drive.


bonnie (not verified)    February 12, 2012 - 6:33PM

Will consumers buy an electric SUV? Yes.

I've already put a deposit down for the Model X - and it turns out that two of my co-workers have also done the same. One has small children, the other has a lot of gear to haul on a regular basis. Tesla has taken over 500 reservations (this is Sunday, reservations opened Friday at noon) already. Model X is another win for Tesla.

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 10:32AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, the range floating around is 200 to 250 miles. Blame on my iMac but that big bright screen changed my eyesight. It's not what is used to be.

As far as the door configuration, yes, I did do my research and even talked to them before my magnitude post. I just like Pelicans better than Falcons...

Rob (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 6:10AM

Pretty poor reporting here. Not sure what your sources are for your range numbers but they are certainly not from tesla who have not released range estimates yet, but at 10% heavier than the Model S and with a battery pack which gives the model S a range of 300 miles it is laughably unlikely that the model x will have a range which is reduced by 70%.
The suggestion that they are betting their whole future on this vehicle is similarly ridiculous, this vehicle is based on exactly the same chassis as the Model S and only involves fabricating a different body shell. With most of its manufacture and tooling being common with its other vehicles it is highly unlikely that poor sales of this vehicle will be a significant blow to the company. Having said that there are alasy 500 per orders in the first 2 days, for a vehicle likely 12-18 months from delivery and that hasn't got a built model for people to look at.
The statement that the Model X will have performance that outperforms the fastest SUV is understated to say the least, it's predicted 0 to 60 of 4.4 has it beating the Porsche 911 and the BMW Z4
This thing doesn't just beat SUVs it beats performance sports cars

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 10:35AM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

Hi Rob, not sure what you mean by: "alasy"? But, yes, there is no firm range reported as of yet. There is one SUV coming out of the woodwork that should be close to the Model X performance if Maserati gets its Kubang out the door. Didn't I made it clear it outperforned even the best SUVs already in the post?

Rob (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 4:06PM

In reply to by Nicolas Zart

That was meant to read "there are already 500 pre-orders"

Considering Tesla have not released range numbers yet and their reputation is based on vehicles ranging from 160 to 300 mile ranges it seems very odd for you to report a firm range number of 80 and 100 miles respectively for the two battery pack options, can you now confirm that you simply made those numbers up or provide a source. This is significant because as you point out range is the Achilles heel to consumer acceptance of EVs, so making up a number which now looks to be a factor of three out could be very damaging to perception and sales of such a vehicle.

Another glaring error is your false reporting of Teslas branding of their pantographic doors as "pelican doors" a decidedly unsexy name where in actual fact they are called falcon wing doors by Tesla, maybe a matter of opinion that the latter is sexier but what's not a matter of opinion is that it seems to reveal sloppy reporting of false information.

My comment about the performance is that whilst it is certainly true that the model X outperforms the fastest SUVs on the market if you want to give a true and fair comparison of its performance then it is more enlightening to reveal that not only does it outperform it's own class it actually outperforms a chunk of the performance sports car market including the Porsche 911 and BMW Z4.

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 8:39PM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

As I mentioned before the number I read was not the number I typed which I'm blaming for my failing eyesight and stubbornness not to wear glasses. Point taken, I now have to.

Where you see "unsexy" in pelican I see something else as I watch them glide majestically over oceans all day long. I'm sure Tesla Motors will survive my little incident.

For the performance point, I see we agree and it goes with the article. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 10:12AM

Not only is this article rife with false information, it's grammar and sentence structure is terrible. I'm not trying to be cruel, but if you take any pride in your work, or have any aspirations of being a journalist in the vaguest of terms, you need to take a few English classes. Learning to put some effort in the research department wouldn't hurt either.

Nicolas Zart    February 13, 2012 - 10:40AM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for your comment "Anonymous". My aspirations are much more modest than you think, I'm just someone who loves cars and EVs. You're more than welcome to write here and dispense your academic style upon us mere mortals if you ever feel a need to not be cruel and sign your name.

James Feister (not verified)    February 13, 2012 - 11:52PM

In reply to by Nicolas Zart

Now that's the kind of well crafted writing I'm talking about. See? A little constructive criticism is good, even if it does piss you off a little. Although there is still the continued misuse of the comma (you REALLY need to learn how to use a comma).

Nicolas Zart    February 14, 2012 - 11:02AM

In reply to by James Feister (not verified)

Thank you for your concern, but my education was also done by British teachers who shudder at the way we use our commas. What we consider the right use of commas here is the wrong over there. I use it in a different way to accentuate certain things. Apparently it worked, you picked it up.

As to tick me off, I don't take things personally. After all, it's only someone's point of you. And why should I? I do what I like.

Thanks, you comment James, Nicolas,