I'll be on hand next Thursday, February 9, for the unveiling of the Tesla Motors Model X, the company's third electric vehicle and their first foray into the crossover market. Tesla will be livecasting the event on their Website beginning at 8pm Pacific Time Thursday, and I'll be posting photos, videos, and impressions from Tesla's Hawthorne, CA Design Center (down near Los Angeles).
So what's a Model X, anyway? We know it's a crossover-type vehicle meant to combine the utility of a minivan/SUV with the performance, fuel economy, and zero tailpipe emissions of Tesla's other EVs, the Roadster and Model S sedan. What we don't know is, well, a whole lot more than that. Here's what we can gleam from the rumor mill to date:
– According to Analysts who've gotten an early preview of the vehicle, it's impressive. A Barlcay's report gives a few details:
Initial spec (i.e 0-60mph faster than a Porsche 911, 40% more room than an Audi Q7, all-wheel drive, etc.) and design (falcon door, aerodynamic body, etc) were impressive
– Falcon door? Jury's still out on what, exactly, a "Falcon Door" is, but another analyst chimed in:
Theo O'Neill, a cleantech analyst at Wunderlich Securities, has seen photographs of the Model X but has yet to ride in it. As a parent who struggles to buckle his young son into a car seat, he's excited about the Model X's doors, which pivot from the top of the vehicle.
"The doors of the Model X lift up and fold — like the wing of a bird," said O'Neill. "You can walk right up to the edge of the seat. It's the ideal solution for disabled children, or any parent who has to lean over to buckle a car seat."
– The Model X was designed under the direction of Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen and his team at Tesla's design center in Hawthorne, CA (not corporate HQ in Silicon Valley). Before joining Tesla, von Holzhausen designed the Mazda Kabura concept car, and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. He also had a hand in Volkswagen's New Beetle concept car. So we can expect curves and swoopy lines and a generally future-forward look, as evidenced by the lone teaser image send out with invites to the launch events.
As for the rest of it … pricing, options, range and performance specs … we'll have to wait for more leaks or Thursday's unveil, whichever comes first.