Tesla took the wraps off its third all-electric model at its Los Angeles design center. The Model X is built on the same platform as the Model S, but uses an SUV-style body.
From its early days, Tesla intended to launch a complete line of electric cars. Starting with the Roadster, which served as a proof of concept for its electric drivetrain, Tesla followed up with the Model S, a luxury sedan. And now we come to the company's third car, the Model X, an SUV.
The Model X is built on the same platform as the Model S, and it shares approximately 60 percent of its parts with the sedan. But in SUV style, the passenger compartment is higher off the ground. Similar design notes include the front end, which Tesla designers call the nosecone. Instead of a grille, which the Model X does not need, it has a glossy plastic piece, which can mask radar and other forward-looking sensors.
Just like the Model S, the Model X has a flat lithium ion battery pack that forms the base of the vehicle. It is likely that Tesla will offer the Model X with the same three battery configurations as the Model S, although Tesla expects the range to be 10 percent to 12 percent less for the Model X due to its weight. The Model X wheelbase is about 4 inches longer than that of the Model S.
Tesla will offer an all-wheel-drive option for the Model X. That means an extra drive motor for the front wheels. As there are two drive motors, the torque can be changed electronically at each axle. Depending on the sensor data, the car could put 50 percent torque on the front wheels, and 100 percent torque on the rear wheels. The torque can be lowered at front and rear for slippery conditions.
This prototype has cameras for side mirrors. Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk says he would like to use them on the production version, as full-size side mirrors can cut highway range by 5 percent, but the company will have to clear regulatory hurdles.
One of the most innovative aspects of the Model X is what Tesla calls its falcon-wing doors. These doors open similarly to gull-wing doors, yet have a hinge at the belt line, letting them take up less width as they rise. The Model X also has a third row of seats, which the size of the door opening makes easy to access. Here, Elon Musk is demonstrating the practicality of the design.
The 17-inch center touch screen carries over from the Model S. This screen shows navigation, audio, and phone information. The car will have a built-in data connection, and Tesla envisages some kind of app store.