Tesla Model X crossover: the gullwing electric SUV is here

Published: 30 September 2015

► Tesla Model X shown overnight
► World debut of Tesla's electric SUV
► Dramatic doors, stellar e-range and more 

Electric car visionary Elon Musk whisked the covers off the new Tesla Model X P90D crossover overnight at an event in the US - and gave the first six customers the keys to the world's first production all-electric SUV. It's the second major model launch from Tesla Motors and follows the battery-powered Model S into showrooms in winter 2015.

The world debut was more akin to an iPhone launch, Musk talking through his new baby on stage with a slick audio-visual presentation and props such as rival SUVs rolled on and off stage at will. All very Silicon Valley, as you'd expect from a tech start-up disrupting the established car makers.

Looking like a Model S on stilts, the production car below stays true to the aesthetic of the 2012 concept car (the car pictured at the end of our gallery). It's a slippery shape, with a drag coefficient of just 0.24 - helping contribute to its (theoretical) top speed of 155mph. Nought to sixty takes just 3.8sec in the regular P90D model.

Read our guide to the best electric cars and EVs on sale in the UK

Tesla Model X: rear view

Tesla is already taking $5000 deposits for the Model X, which has a 250-mile range, and Musk confirmed key details: the Model X has greater safety ratings than rival SUVs such as the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60; those 'Falcon Wing' rear gullwing doors have made it to production; electric four-wheel drive is standard; three rows of seven seats fit adults; and the wonderfully named Ludicrous speed upgrade package, which cuts the 0-62mph time to just 3.2sec, features again. Musk also confirmed:

  • Auto-opening and closing front doors - hands-free!
  • 'Bio-defence filter' to clean out viruses, smog and pollutants
  • Wrapover windscreen curling over driver's head
  • Universal fit mobile phone holder adapts to all cellphones
  • Rear 'Falcon Wing' rear gullwing doors
  • Double-hinged doors to ease access in tight spaces
  • 259bhp front motor, 503bhp rear motor
  • Those batteries come with a penalty: kerbweight is 2468kg
  • Quarter mile: 11.7sec Ludicrous P90D, 12.2sec P90D

Elon Musk on his future three-car model range strategy

CAR caught up with Musk at last week's launch of the European factory in Tilburg, the Netherlands and he confirmed the Model X joined the Model S as the second phase in Tesla's growth strategy. 'We have a three-step plan,' he said. 'Step one was for an expensive, low-volume car - which was the Roadster. Step two is for mid-volume, mid-price cars [the Model S and Model X]. Step three is for high-volume, low-price cars. If there was a way to do step three immediately, I would definitely have done so.

'Another way to think of it: even after tax breaks, our car is still fairly expensive so people who are well off are essentially paying for the R&D of the mass-market car. This is not true if you were Ferrari: Ferrari results in more Ferraris. The money we’re making – or not making – is going toward designing and developing the affordable car. I wish I could give you it sooner: we’re doing it as soon as we can. We need the Gigafactory available to make an affordable, long-range electric car.' 

The Model 3 is being readied for launch in 2017, with a sticker price of $35,000 in the US.

Tesla Model X: a new dawn for crossover-kind

There's certainly no arguing with the timing: as the Volkswagen group is embroiled in the #dieselgate scandal and just getting round to showing conceptual imaginations of all-electric crossovers - witness the Audi E-tron concept at the Frankfurt motor show - here comes Silicon Valley upstart Tesla with a fully fledged production iteration.

Stay tuned to see if Tesla can move the needle again.

Elon Musk unveils the Tesla Model X on 30 September 2015

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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