Since the pre-production Model X was introduced in 2012 it’s been commonly described as a seven-passenger vehicle, but in base trim it’s now actually a five seater.
While not in itself critical because a six- and seven-passenger option are also available, never less than seven were shown in prototypes displayed the last three years, and Tesla has revealed it charges $4,000 more for the seven-seat option, and $3,000 more for the six.
What do seven-passenger buyers get for $4,000? The first five seats are essentially the same, so two non-movable rear seats with attendant HVAC vents in the third row are supplied in what even Tesla fans are describing as a crossover with pricing structure that quickly escalates with optional extras.
Ostensibly the Model X is priced before incentives from $81,200 for a 70D. Per its questionable price advertising custom on its online configurator however, Tesla assumes a massive $20,000 less than this.
A $61,000 figure is arrived at with five years’ estimated gas savings assumed at $9,000 which it handily lops off the actual MSRP as well as a $1,200 not-tallied-but-mandatory delivery fee, assumed $7,500 tax credit, and $2,500 California state rebate.
The seats and other details are some of the discoveries reservation holders are discussing at the Tesla Owners Club forum, where frank talk even from fans alternately defends Tesla’s practices and accuses it of “nickel and diming”
“LOL that’s a warped view. The way I see it seven-seat should have been the baseline so really they are giving you less for the same money and for those that want the seven seater they just got nickel and dimed ripped off another $4,000,” said one commenter.
“Maybe they announced it and I missed it, but I’m pretty pissed about being forced to pay $4,000 extra for the seven-seat configuration…,” said another commenter. “Sure had the impression all along that that was standard. Lots of nickel and diming on this vehicle. Well over our anticipated budget.”
The assumptions are not presumption, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk did set expectations at around 23:50 in the following video saying the X would be quicker than a Porsche 911 (which it is, and actually even quicker than promised) with “seating for seven adults” (24:40).
Noteworthy also is Musk said the Model X has “mountains of storage,” and folding seats were shown in the two early examples shown for three years. Today, however, none of the second-row seats fold down in the final version limiting utility. The recent option of less than seven seats occurred after the building of one of the Founders edition vehicles with six seats (including a console with arm rests where the center seat was located). Customer concern for extra cargo space is most likely the reason for the latest five seat option.
That said, another reader did say it was OK that Tesla was charging essentially $2,000 per immovable extra rear seat in the seven-seat configuration option.
“I am happy to see a five seat lower cost option. It makes sense that seven seats would cost more than five,” said the poster. “Maybe $4,000 is a bit much though.”
And, apparently Tesla did announce it a while back this year, said another commenter.
“The third row seat was described as optional in a Tesla communication some months back,” said the poster, “and the five seat option is the implementation of that.”
But another Model X reservation holder sees a change-up on plans for a company working to generate cash flow in the face of heavy expenditures while its Gigafactory and global enterprise are in growth mode.
“IMHO, Tesla Motors has made a huge mistake in not crediting for six or five seats,” said the reservation holder who’s been waiting over three years. “Look at the images. You get the center row of seats with the five-seat interior and they have only tossed out the rear two seats. The five seat interior gets five moving seats. The seven seat interior has five moving seats too!”
A better pricing strategy, this reservation holder says – who wishes to remain anonymous out of concern of being an offense to Tesla – would have been to credit $1,000 for six seats and credit $3,000 for five seats.
Of course this would have meant the Model X would have cost $4,000 more, and its base price would be $85,200.
“Obviously this entire seat situation is to show a lower total price when you first arrive at the Design Studio for Model X,” said the poster interpreting Tesla’s intent.
And true enough, Tesla already goes to great lengths to whittle down listed prices – though its actual practices are set up to quickly send real out-the-door costs back up.
Both its delivery schedule and pricing, despite saying “$61,000” for base, can easily run in to the six figures, with fully loaded P90D examples coming to as much as just over $150,000.
Tesla supporters, some of whom are financially invested in the company, and others at least offering moral support have observed how Tesla does things, with a mixture of cynicism and empathy.
Another thing becoming clear is a Model X may cost over $8,800 more than a nearly the same configured Model S. That’s more than $5,000 previously though speculatively reported and while that expectation was not officially set by Tesla, some have expressed disappointment.
What Tesla is doing that’s also a disappointment to some however, is rewarding the highest paying customers with places in line ahead of others, even if the others placed money down first.
“So somebody who didn’t reserve their MX until recently but gets a P90D takes delivery faster than someone who has been waiting for 3 years and wants a 90D?? Doesn’t seem fair,” said one poster.
To its defense, speaking to people who are generally fans, another poster replied.
“It may not be fair but it is what TM has been doing for some time with the Model S. Higher priced/higher margin cars get priority,” said the commenter.
At this stage, it appears the P90D will be available early 2016, the 90D will follow mid-2016 and later, and the 70D will be mid-to-late 2016.
The whole thread may be read here.
Generally, fans remain excited about the Model X, and want Tesla to succeed so it can go to Model 3 and beyond.
They also want their Model X, and some have said they view the aspiring carmaker as the best in the world.
Others have questioned that, but one fact is clear: the Model X is a seven seater – for a $4,000 up charge.