Yesterday Tesla Motors unveiled a prototype of the highly anticipated Model X SUV/minivan at its design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

During a splashy gathering of media and prospective owners, Tesla founder Elon Musk said the electric SUV – complete with “falcon wing doors” and due for 2013 production – “has more utility than a minivan and better, much better performance than a SUV.”

What’s with the doors? Well they look cool, and they’re practical, Musk said.

“You can get in and out in the tightest garage or parking spot without hitting the wall or car next to you, or your head,” Musk said, with pride in his innovative and high-performance family hauler.

Falcon wing doors. (Photo by Mark Zimmer).

Prior to yesterday’s reveal, Tesla had tweeted that the X will be quicker than a Porsche 911 and roomier than an Audi Q7, that is, it will be able to dash from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds “and that’s not even the performance model,” Musk said yesterday.

Powered by a version of the same lithium-ion battery system found in the Model S sedan, the Model X features an all-wheel drive system with electric motors spinning the front and rear wheels independently.

According to Musk, the AWD system “is incredibly precise and accurate in its application of power and traction, much more so than any other type of all-wheel drive out there.”

And, as it’s a pure electric, Musk also touted advantages over internal-combustion competitors, saying the X offers “more packaging opportunities,” or put more plainly, it provides greater potential passenger and cargo space. Preliminary specifications reveal seating for seven plus room for luggage.

The Model X will likely be offered with a choice of 60- or 85-kwh battery packs – but since it weighs around 10-percent more than the Model S sedan, range is expected to be slightly less.

Expected to become Tesla’s volume vehicle, the Model X is projected to start at $57,400 before applying a federal tax credit up to $7,500, although with different options on the table, it will likely be easy to push the sticker to $100,000 if not more.

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