Tesla Reveals Model X

After two years of production delays (and an hour late to the stage), the Tesla Model X has made its official debut.

CEO Elon Musk presented an assortment of white, black, ruby and sapphire blue Model X crossovers before a packed crowd at the Solyndra factory now operated by Tesla. Although full details were not included, many unknowns about this all-electric vehicle have been revealed, including performance specifications for the most-powerful vserions.

“This goes so fast, it’s wrong,” said Musk.

With a 90 kilowatt-hour battery, the top-line Model X has a range of up to 257 miles. Under standard acceleration, it reaches 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Place the Model X in optional ludicrous mode, and it vaults to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.

Undisclosed are models with smaller battery packs, including an anticipated 70-kwh and 85-kwh version. This first reveal was all about the most spectacular iteration, and in common to all are core features.

With the rear “falcon wing” doors tucked neatly overhead, the audience was given a clear view of the second row seating. Capable of carrying up to seven passengers, the Model X as configured has three seemingly identical seats in the second row. Passengers here have a flat floor for cargo, and can store extra gear underneath the seats due to limited hardware between the seat and the floor.

The second row also sits farther forward than standard seats in SUVs and similar purpose crossovers, highlighting Tesla’s intent to positon the Model X as a family-friendly vehicle. The location of this row not only allows for more room for the two passengers in the third-row, but also permits a parent to place a child a car seat without the same amount of straining or bending required for most SUVs.

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To access the third row, the motorized second row slides directly forward without tilting the seatback forward. This keeps parents from having to pull out a car seat to access the third row, a common drawback for some minivans and SUVs.

Musk didn’t confirm if the EPA-stated 26-cubic feet of luggage volume (which is identical to the Model S sedan) was correct, though he seemed to enjoy demonstrating the SUV’s carrying capacity by unpacking a carload of people, a stroller, groceries and additional luggage from a Model X onstage.

For the front doors, sensors with the Model X can triangulate when the driver is approaching the SUV to automatically open the driver’s door.

Musk has already spoken about advantage of the rear falcon-wing doors in cramped parking lots, and showed how this setup still allows a passenger to squeeze through the vehicles to get in the Model X. For garages with low ceilings or narrow walls, Musk explained that each time the doors open, sensors automatically read for obstructions to calculate the correct opening arc.

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One of the lengthier portions of the presentation focused on the safety of the Model X.

It’s “the first SUV that’s five stars in every category,” Musk said. “What does ‘five stars’ mean? It’s not technically a number … it describes the probability of overall injury.”

Boasting a very low 6.5 percent chance of injury in its crash tests, Tesla again appears to be positioning this vehicle as family-friendly. For front impact, side impact and rollover test, the SUV performed exceptionally well.

Musk said two semi-autonomous safety components will come standard and be active at all times: automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance.

The air filtration system of the Model X was also listed under safety components. Consisting of a primary filter that’s ten times larger than standard, Musk said it’s “the first true HEPA filter in a car.” There’s even Bioweapon Defense Mode, a real setting on the Model X, for ultra-high filtering.

At the end of the presentation, Musk handed the keys over to five new Model X owners, before bringing his own VIN #001 onstage for the audience to view. He didn’t mention when regular deliveries are scheduled to begin or lay out expected production numbers.