Think of Tesla, and most people picture the sleek Model S sedan the electric-car company has been selling for three years. Now Tesla says it's finally poised to deliver the long-awaited andModel X SUV, with its unusual gull-wing doors and seating for seven.
Tesla Motors on Wednesday said customers will receive the new SUV before September 30, or the end of the third quarter. CEO Elon Musk said a configuration tool for designing a model X's color, interior and performance characteristics will appear on the Tesla website in two or three weeks.
The Model X is basically a taller version of the newer, all-wheel drive "D" versions of thesedan. Its greater suspension travel and all-wheel drive should make it popular for those who drive on rough roads or in inclement conditions, while the seating for seven could make it an interesting choice for family hauling. Tesla unveiled the Model X in 2012, and originally said it expected the SUV to go into production in late 2013.
In its second-quarter earnings statement released Wednesday, Tesla said it expects to ship 12,000 vehicles in the current period (the same number shipped in the second quarter), a 60 percent increase over the number of cars shipped in the third quarter of 2014. Most of these will be the Model S, while a "small number" will be the Model X SUV.
This will come as welcome news to the more than 20,000 would-be owners who have paid $5,000 to reserve the upcoming model. That's despite Tesla still not announcing pricing for the Model X. Musk has said pricing for the Model X will be "very similar" to that of the Model S, which starts at $50,000 after federal tax credits and gas savings.
Updated, 4 p.m. PT: This article has been updated with additional information about the Model X release.