New Tesla crossover debuts at 2013 Detroit Auto Show
Electric Model X combines efficiency, practicality and power.
Tesla made a big splash in 2012 by releasing the Model S sedan and subsequently winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year, among a slate of other awards. The electric Model S was lauded for its technology, as well as its sporty handling, infotainment system and use of space. Here at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Tesla showed a new vehicle based on the Model S, the Model X. A cross between a crossover and a car, the Model X adds another electric motor up front to enable all-wheel drive and features three rows of seats and "falcon-wing" rear doors for easy access to the second and third rows. Who says an electric vehicle can't be practical?
- Cadillac ATS and Ram 1500 win car, truck of year
- Corvette Stingray storms Detroit show
- Mercedes-Benz CLA, E-Class models debut
Tesla Model X
What is it? An electric crossover/people mover.
What's hot? Power and efficiency. Like the Model S, the Model X will be sold with 60-kilowatt-hour and 85-kWh motors, the latter pushing the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in five seconds flat. Tesla officials made no mention of the Model X's 40-kWh motor. Range was not discussed, but in the Model S the 60-kWh motor is good for 208 miles and the 80-kWh motor for 265 miles. Expect fewer miles from the larger Model X.
The Model X has all-wheel drive like a crossover, sits low like a car and offers three rows of seats like a minivan. A pair of falcon-wing doors that pivot in two places allow easy access to the second and third rows without the need to stoop when getting in. The front row features Tesla's 17-inch center touch-screen infotainment system, which provides access to applications and Web connectivity.
The body is aerodynamically shaped, with retractable door handles, but Tesla is not revealing a coefficient of drag at this point. As in the Model S, handling should be capable thanks to a flat battery that sits low in the chassis.
In addition to the Model X, Tesla also talked up its Super Charging stations. To be rolled out up and down the coasts and eventually across America, these stations will allow Tesla owners to plug in and get 150 miles worth of charge in 30 minutes for no cost. With their eventual complete rollout, drivers will be able to go from San Diego to Maine at no cost. Currently, there are eight stations, six in California and two on the East Coast.
What's not? Availability and price. The Model S is out, but few are actually in customers' hands. The Model X will likely be just as rare, and with a starting price befitting a technology-rich car in development.
How much and when? Starting at about $65,000. On sale in 2014 likely as a 2015 model.
MSN Autos' verdict: The Model S has been very well-received for its efficiency, dynamics and space, and the Model X should add to the practicality. We like the idea of vehicle electrification, especially if it comes with this type of performance. We hope both the Model S and Model X will gain acceptance and sales momentum here in the U.S.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.