The wait is finally over! Tesla just officially launched its production Model X electric car and delivered the very first vehicles to customers at its factory in Fremont, California. It's been three and half years since Tesla originally announced the Model X crossover, which is the automaker's third vehicle - and now it's finally here. Elon Musk also announced some surprising new details at the event: the Model X is the "safest SUV ever," it has an air filter 10 times larger than most cars', and it has a "bioweapon defense mode" button... really makes you stop and think for a second. What does Musk know that the rest of us don't? It can also travel 250 miles on a single charge, and it rockets from 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Elon Musk introduced the Model X as the “safest SUV ever.” The vehicle is the first SUV to earn 5 stars in every NHTSA safety category. Whereas gasoline cars have large steel engine blocks that compress into passenger areas during accidents, the Model X has a small electric motor that does not impact the cabin. Its core architecture has a low center of mass, and active safety measures include automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance.
The Model X comes with a built-in “bioweapon defense mode” button – to prepare you for the coming apocalypse. We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry. Musk doesn’t have a very optimistic view of the future, does he?
The button triggers a HEPA particle filter that is 10 times larger than the filter of a normal car – it’s 300 times better at filtering bacteria, 500 times better at filtering allergens, and it can even filter out viruses. When the filter is operating at maximum capability it eliminates virtually all bacteria and spores, so the car’s indoor air quality is equivalent to a hospital’s.
As expected, the production Model X’s exterior is nearly identical to the concept version, which means that its unique Falcon Wing doors are part of the package. These doors enable passengers to access the third row while child seats are in the second row. They also enable parents to seat kids without having to hunch over and duck into the car.
The doors also have incredible clearance – they lift up rather than out, so there’s little risk of hitting a nearby parked car. In the above pic, Musk is demonstrating what happens with the Model X when obnoxious people park way too close to your car (we’ve all been there). The Model X doors lift up on two hinges to avoid cars near you – even ones parked 5 inches away.
In terms of utility, the Model X is capable of towing 5000 pounds while carrying seven people and a ton of luggage. An optional accessories hitch enables it to carry 4 bikes or 6 sets of skis while maintaining full access to the trunk.
The Model X – Tesla‘s answer to the SUV / crossover market – was originally unveiled back in February 2012, and at the time Tesla estimated that the first deliveries would start by the end of 2013. Several delays later, Tesla has finally shown the production vehicle to the public, and delivered the first Model X EVs to a handful of lucky buyers.
The Model X shares many of its parts with the Model S, and, it looks pretty much like a blown-up version of the electric car. Despite being large enough to seat seven people, the Model X looks surprisingly sedan-like – like a very, very large sedan on steroids. Tesla will initially offer the Model X in 90D and P90D versions, both of which feature standard all-wheel-drive. The top spec P90D features a 259-hp electric motor that powers the front wheels, while a 503-hp electric motor takes over for the rear.
The Model X P90D zooms from 0-60 mph like a sports car in just 3.3 seconds. The EPA has already certified the Model X 90D with a 257 mile driving range and a 92 MPGe fuel economy rating. The P90D is slightly less efficient with a 250 mile driving range and 89 MPGe rating. It’s expected that Tesla will release lower priced 60-kWh and 85-kWh versions of the Model X after the initial launch.
Tesla is still taking pre-orders for the Model X. If you put down the $5,000 deposit now, Tesla estimates that your Model X will be ready in the second half of 2016.