Tesla Model X
Douglas Stansfield's picture

Falcon Wing Doors – 3 Reasons They Are Better Than Gullwing Doors

Last week the world watched as Tesla Motors introduced its Model X, fully electric SUV. During the launch event, Elon Musk took the time to explain the Model X’s rear Falcon Wing Doors.
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With history as the guide, we know the inherent problems with the gullwing doors of yesteryear. The main reasons not many cars came with this type of door was because of some pretty big issues.

One of the issues was that you can’t open them very high in a garage unless it had a very high ceiling. Since the gullwing door only has one hinge the whole door almost doubles the height of the car when the door is open. The second big issue is that gullwing doors are impossible to open in tight parking spaces. Thus getting out of the car while next to another car made these doors impractical. The third main issue facing the gullwing door was the issue of not being able to open the door at all in the event of a rollover. If the car ended up upside down, it would be impossible to open the door.

What You Get in Tesla Model X, Specs

All these issues must have been considered with the design of the falcon wing doors on the Tesla Model X. This innovative approach uses two hinges instead of the one hinge on the gullwing door. As demonstrated, by Elon Musk during the launch event, two minivans were parked on either side of the Tesla Model X. During this demonstration the falcon wing hinges enabled the door to go out and then up while the door is right next to the minivans side. Since the falcon wing of the Model X is equipped with sensors, the car always knows whether or not the door is in jeopardy of hitting anything. This enables the doors to be up and out of the way of the passenger while still being parked next to other cars. An additional benefit of the door going up and out of the way is that a passenger can enter from the front or rear of the car and have easy access to the rear seats.

One of the questions not answered during the launch meeting was what would happen if the car ended up upside down? Now I realize that it will be very unlikely that a Tesla X will end up upside down, however, anything is possible on the large variety of roads in this country and the world. The reason it is unlikely is because of the low center of gravity within the Tesla Model X. The Model X’s 90 kWh battery is the floor of the car and centers the weight very low to the ground. Since the Model X has two front doors that are traditional swing open front doors, these doors would theoretically be able to open in the event of the car being upside down. So passengers could crawl out through the front doors.

So the key takeaway from this is that the Model X’s Falcon Wing Doors adds to the overall safety profile of this automobile.


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