Luke Ottaway's picture

Tesla Model X outsold all electric vehicles except Volt and Leaf in August

The upcoming Tesla Model X has been hyped like no other crossover in recent memory. That hype has generated an impressive number of pre-orders for the falcon-winged wonder, particularly in recent months.
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In early 2012, the world first caught a glimpse of the Tesla Model X. Promising to be an all-electric, all-wheel-drive falcon-winged crossover with an optional third row – bringing all the attributes of the smash hit Model S rolled into that SUV package that Americans are so fond of – Model X became an instant hype generator that has yet to be slowed.

Okay, multiple delays to the estimated start of production may have put the regen brakes on the hype machine just a bit. But with Model X now on track to begin deliveries in the second quarter of 2015 (after initially promising the end of 2013), if anything the crossover has just had more time to collect pre-orders from enthusiastic future owners.

20,000 and counting

Crowd-sourced numbers from the Tesla Motors Club, consolidated by commenter Paul Carter, tentatively indicate that Model X pre-orders have now reached 20,199 as of September 4, and the rate of monthly orders has accelerated. In August alone, an estimated 1,353 Model X reservations were placed.

If Model X was actually on sale, those numbers would have placed it third among all plug-ins in U.S. sales last month, behind only the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. And yes, ahead of Tesla’s own Model S, which has been focused on satisfying demand in foreign markets during the summer months.

According to the (highly unofficial) tally, about 75% of those Model X pre-orders have come from within the United States. The trendline of the monthly curve projects over 1,550 reservations in September.

It should be noted that while the numbers aren’t exact, they do not reflect casual interest by any means – placing a reservation requires a $5,000 payment up front.

Will Model X maintain the strong initial demand after launch?

The big question is what demand will be like once Tesla clears the backlog of pre-orders. The bare facts would seem to indicate it will be quite strong, likely validating CEO Elon Musk’s expectation that demand for Model X will be “slightly higher” than Model S, which is on track to deliver 35,000 vehicles worldwide in 2014.

Model X will offer 60 and 85 kWh battery pack options, which should provide only slightly less range than Model S (208 and 265 miles for 60 and 85 kWh, respectively) due to the AWD, greater frontal area and higher ride height. It will offer better acceleration and driving dynamics than just about any crossover on the market thanks to two powerful induction motors and a low center of gravity unmatched by any gasoline competitor. It will come with free access for life to the quickly expanding Supercharger network. It will provide an optional third row of seating, with outstanding cargo space thanks to the powertrain packaging. It will come with one of the best warranties in the industry. And it will come with the incomparable “cool” factor of a Tesla, particularly one with falcon-wing rear doors.

Oh, and did we mention the American love affair with SUVs?

Of course, the wild success of Model X is far from a guarantee. Pricing has not been announced yet, but it will cost more than Model S, which starts around $70,000 before incentives. And though it will undoubtedly have few equals, only so many people every year can afford to buy a new $70,000+ vehicle. Then there is the potential downside of the falcon wing doors, which could hinder sales to outdoor enthusiasts – installing a practical roof rack appears extremely difficult without trapping rear occupants inside, although Tesla may have found a way around that problem.

In the end, expect Model X to eventually catch and handily surpass Model S. With the Fremont plant expected to be capable of reaching an annualized run rate of 100,000 cars by the end of the year, 2015 and 2016 could be big years for Tesla. In fact, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache now estimates combined sales of Model S and Model X will reach 129,000 units in 2017.

Finally Musk, who has said Model X "will be a phenomenal car," has also attributed the delays of Model X to an admirable attempt to make the production car superior to the show version. If Tesla succeeds in that regard, they will surely have a hit on their hands.


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Comments

In pretty much any business I have ever heard of, and the automotive world in particular, the term "sale" is a transaction in which a seller provides a product to a buyer, and at that time generates an invoice for the goods. Tesla has not sold any Model X vehicles as of this post. See Generally Acceptable Accounting Practices. (GAAP)
But given the $5,000 deposit, most if not all of those reservations will turn into sales. Just a fun way to put the numbers in perspective.
Actually, you are right that the deposits have real significance. The issue that sort of bugs me as an EV follower, is that in about 14 months, those same vehicles will again make headlines as Model X "Sales." I'm no stickler for facts in headlines, so don't change it on my account. Thanks for giving me a chance to vent.
What it comes down to is that if these crowd-sourced numbers (which are laughable fan boy nonsense at absolute best) were as good as the dreamers insist, the company would be making them official. If Tesla was truly this sales beast, the company would make sure that everyone else knew that and the fact that they do not ever announce official sales figures is just another illustration of the dog and pony show that is Elon Musk. It's all marketing and hype. Fortunately, they have deals with other automakers to keep them in business.
Ye of little faith, Patrick...Tesla does announce official sales figures, they just do it only on a quarterly basis when they are forced to. And they've been pretty spot-on with their projections in the last few quarters.
Headline might have been..... Tesla has no car to deliver, but . . plus 20,000 people have put 5K down to actually own the vehicle in the fall of 2015 , volt, and Leaf using today's sales, MX will sell thousands each month when they come off the floor.
I put down $5k with the understanding that it it is refundable. I will decide to actually buy it when I see it and they release the price. Particularly if Gen 3 ($35k?) is coming out a year or two (which will drag down the value of S and X?) and when they make the batteries cheaper and more powerful by investing in that gigafactory, chances are I might just get a refund and wait and see. I think most people who put down $5k are thinking the same, aren't they?
Hmm, if it is refundable that certainly does change the picture a bit.
Yes, the 5K is refundable, but those that have it view it as an asset. They either order the car or sell the place card for a profit. You should consider that. Truly, all of the orders will be realized, one way or the other.
The agreement said you can't sell your place.
I put $5k down and intend to buy, expecting the featured up price to be in the $90K to $100K range. A number of people sent in $40K for early "Signature" models. I think more than 90% of reservations will turn into sales. If they can turn out an average of 800/week during the second half of next year,, about $2 billion in sales on top of about 40K Model S sedans for another $3.5 billion or so, That's $5.5 billion in 2014 compared to about $3.2 billion this year, a year over year increase in sales of almost 75%! Tesla is on a roll even without the lower priced Model 3 and the Gigafactory. They have no competition. If anyone thinks this is fan boy stuff, bet against Tesla and watch your money fly away...
I continue to wonder how soon buffet or one of the other billionaires will get smart and invest into Tesla. I think that it would be smart to build a 3rd line as well as start a second battery plant so as to produce Model X|S at the wanted demand levels, but most importantly, to have a line ready to go for the Model 3. That alone would scare the daylights out of the regular car companies.
It won't scare Toyota. They traded a unionized assembly plant in the highest tax state in the US for a chunk of Tesla stock before the stock took off. Nice hedge.
15 months later....15 Model X vehicles delivered.