Tesla launched the delayed battery-electric Model X SUV at an event at its Fremont factory Tuesday night (the launch event itself running behind schedule as well) with an emphasis first on the safety of the vehicle; second on the innovative falcon wing lifting rear doors and second row seating; and third on performance. The base all-wheel drive Model X 90D has a range of some 257 miles (414 km), with a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds; a “Ludicrous” P90 version of the SUV (earlier post) takes 3.2 seconds, said CEO Elon Musk.
Musk said that Tesla expects the Model X to receive 5 star safety rating from NHTSA in every area—the first SUV to do so. Indeed, Musk said, were there such a rating, the Model X should receive a 6-star rating based on the low probability of overall injury.
|Tesla awards itself 6 stars. Click to enlarge.|
Musk emphasized that basic design of car contributes to the overall safety. As one example, the small electric motor down low by the battery pack enables a longer distance for the crumple zone. The low center of gravity resulting from the low battery pack results in half of the rollover propensity of any current SUV or minivan, Musk said.
Further, the pack acts as a stiffening member for the whole, lowering the center of mass and serving as a low transfer medium for the rest of the vehicle.
Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance help reduce the chance of accident in the first place. The Model S uses camera and radar to brake automatically before an accident. Ultrasonic sensors help steer the SUV away from side collisions.
Musk also emphasized Model X’s oversized HEPA filters, which provide “air cleanliness comparable to hospital operating room.”
We can’t even detect any viruses or bacteria or spores. Zero come through. If there is ever an apocalyptic scenario, just press the bioweapon defense mode button.—Elon Musk
In addition the falcon wing rear doors, the Model X front door is auto-sensing; it can detect the driver’s approach, open itself without driver touch, and then close once the driver is in the vehicle. The panoramic windshield feels like a helicopter cockpit, Musk enthused, and helps deliver the Model X’s “transformative driving experience.”
The Model X also features a blind holster for smartphones—i.e., a slot into which any popular phone can fit an connect and charge simply by the driver sliding the phone into it (Model X offers adapters) instead of “fiddling with a bunch of wires.”
The Model X, which shares powertrain elements with the Model S (90 kWh battery pack and front and rear drive motors, earlier post) has a 5,000 lb towing capacity. The dual motors digitally and independently control torque to the front and rear wheels. Unlike Audi’s e-tron quattro concept, which uses dual motors on the rear axle, Tesla opts for a single motor approach there. (Earlier post.)
At the event, Musk handed over the keys to the first six (well, five, the sixth was his) Founders Series models, which start at $132,000 for the base Model X 90D; the “Ludicrous” P90D costs $142,000, with slightly less range. No word yet on the availability of less expensive models.