Tesla’s Model X is here!

31 months ago, the world was told that Tesla planned to release an all-electric SUV. After multiple delays, the Model X was launched last Tuesday night, and it happened at time when the industry needs a bit of positive, “green” news, as it is beleaguered with reports of diesel emissions cheating.

During the long period of anticipation, we’ve already learned quite a lot about the Model X, so there wasn’t much surprise, except for the impressive EPA numbers that Tesla’s larger offering can achieve – the 90kWh battery in the Model X gives it a range of 250 to 257 miles. This is pretty close to its smaller (but older) sibling, the Model S, which has a 253 to 270-mile range.

At 197 inches long, the Model X is slightly longer than the Porsche Cayenne and the BMW X5 and X6. Because of its all-electric powertrain, Tesla could do away with a conventional hood and instead converted the front space, where we’d usually find the engine, into a small storage space. With more length and a shorter hood, Tesla could squeeze in three rows of seats to accommodate up to seven people, and allow the flexibility of a 2-3-2 or 2-2-2 seating arrangement and provide even decent legroom in the back row.

With a curved roof and, of course, its characteristic gull-wing doors, the vehicle cannot accommodate a car-top carrier, but can be fitted with a rear hitch mounted one instead; the automaker claims that it is the first electric car with a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. The doors, or as Tesla likes to call them, Falcon Wing doors, is one of the vehicle’s most appealing aesthetic feature (a gull-wing door by any other name is just as cool), and also one of the reasons behind the many delays of the original 2013 scheduled delivery. You do need to have a 12-inch gap between the door and another car or wall for the gull-wings to glide open, but an ultrasonic sensor on each door and another on the roof will prevent the door from hitting something.

All variants are AWD’s, with two power options: the 90D offers 259 hp in the front and rear electric motors, which propels the car from 0 to 60mph in 4.8 seconds; the performance model, the P90D, channels 503 hp to the rear motor, and has a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds or 3.2 seconds in Ludicrous mode. Both variants have a top speed of 155 mph.

Overall, the Model X doesn’t disappoint, but Elon Musk certainly did. At the launch – which some members of the media have labeled as “disastrous” – the business icon arrived almost two hours late to the 7.00pm event, after event attendees had been shuffled from outside to inside the building, and then from room to room. There was no apology from the Tesla founder and CEO, who began his slideshow presentation – which some media in attendance described as “amateurish” – with the safety features. Not exactly what the audience was most looking forward to. Many of the members of media and customers left the event – hungry and angry – without bothering to test drive the car.

Read a scathing review of the event here: Dear Elon Musk. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Still, that’s not going to stop people from buying one. The first six Model X’s have already been delivered to customers, and if you put down your order today, you’ll only have to wait for up to a WHOLE YEAR for delivery. Tesla needs to be able to up its production speed to become a full-fledge carmaker and stay in the game. Even high-end luxury SUVs, like the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes-Benz GL, sell in numbers between 25,000 to 30,000 each year, but Tesla currently does not have the capacity to produce more than 20,000 units of the Model X a year. A difference of 5,000 units might not seem a lot, but Tesla only has two models on the market now, with the third one – the Model 3 – not expected until 2017. Still, if you don’t mind waiting, the price starts at US$132,000 for the P90 Signature edition and an extra US$10,000 for the P90D Founder.

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