Tesla Model X Will Begin Mass Appeal of EVs
By the time back-to-school ads for Staples are running in your local newspaper, Tesla will be preparing the launch of its highly anticipated Model X fully battery electric SUV (technically, it's a CUV, or crossover utility vehicle). This full-size model, which will offer performance rivaling that of Porsche's respected Cayenne, will feature unique Falcon Wing doors (the term "gull wing" apparently wasn't disruptive enough) and seating for seven adults---plus ample room for luggage, golf clubs, and antique furniture.
Americans have proven that they prefer full-size and mid-size trucks and SUVs when it comes time to acquire new personal transportation. While electric cars have gained traction in recent years, with nearly half a million battery electric vehicles predicted to be sold in 2015, this is still a small fraction of the 17 million cars and trucks that will be purchased in the United States in the next 12 months.
Based on the Model S platform, Tesla's dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model X will be the first battery electric vehicle to be delivered in a form factor that consumers actually want. Ironically, electric cars have been packaged in some of the most undesired forms possible, with econobox design, hatchbacks, and sedans defining the EV landscape. Small electric cars, like the Fiat 500e, Chevy Spark, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV have come to symbolize the size and category limits of the current generation of EVs.
Elon Musk and Tesla Motors will change all this come September. While initially expensive, the Model X will offer space-age design, the latest battery technology, a host of telemetrics capabilities, and driver assistance in the form of collision avoidance and other "Autopilot" features. Huge storage capacity, ample seating, and the luxury of a near-silent riding experience---not to mention dramatically reduced fuel and maintenance costs---will lure buyers who may find the Model S' price tag or sedan form factor a turnoff.
Regardless of its eventual sales numbers, the Model X will prove that auto manufacturers must produce more than quiet, efficient battery-powered sedans and subcompacts. Americans want ground clearance, ample room, and seating for more than four (sorry, Toyota Mirai).
For those who can afford it, the Model X will solve every problem but one: The location of their next charging station when they're on a road trip.
What do you think? Will the Model X be the breakthrough, mass-appeal vehicle Tesla is hoping? Would you purchase the Model X if it was in your budget? Would you buy a Tesla pickup truck? Let us know in the comments below.