Elon Musk Delivers Tesla's First Model X SUVs in California

First Look: Tesla Model X SUV
  • Model X `sets a new bar for automotive engineering,' Musk says
  • Features include falcon-wing doors, `bio-attack defense mode'
The Tesla Motors Model X SUV
The Tesla Motors Model X SUV
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The question now is if Tesla can increase production of the Model X fast enough to meet its lowered sales target of at least 50,000 units for 2015. Much of Tesla’s sales projections are back-weighted to the fourth quarter, raising the stakes for a smooth -- and steep -- rise in production.

More Rivals

Tesla also faces increasing competition, as rivals step up efforts with a growing slate of electric-powered vehicles. Audi presented a prototype for an upcoming zero-emission crossover last week at the Frankfurt motor show, Porsche promised an electric sports car within five years, and BMW AG said more green “i” models are on the way. Separately, Denmark’s government is proposing extending its 180 percent tax on auto sales to electric cars, which had been exempt.

Tesla aims to deliver 50,000 to 55,000 vehicles this year, compared with a previous target of 55,000, partly owing to production challenges with the Model X’s complex middle-row seats. The Palo Alto, California-based company delivered 21,577 vehicles in the year’s first half, meaning it must sell 28,423 vehicles in the second half to meet the lower end of its forecast.

Shares in the company rose 2.4 percent to $252.46 at 8:09 a.m. New York time, before regular trading. Tesla rose 11 percent this year through yesterday, while the Bloomberg World Auto Manufacturers Index declined 14 percent.

Manufacturing Test

The Model X was first revealed as a concept in February 2012 at a Los Angeles event featuring California Governor Jerry Brown. The company previously targeted for sales to begin the following year, then by the end of 2014.

The Tesla MotorsModel X SUV
The Tesla MotorsModel X SUV
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The first Model Xs are limited-edition Founders Series that typically go to board members and close friends of the company. Those are followed by the Signature Series models, which are fully loaded, require a $40,000 deposit and start at $132,000. A lower-priced base Model X will be released at a later date.

The all-wheel-drive SUV can be ordered in either six- or seven-seat versions. While the two-passenger third-row seat folds down flat, the second-row seats tilt forward and move up but don’t fold flat. Customers who are eager to haul around surfboards, skis or pieces of plywood are likely to order the version with 6 seats.

Signature Edition

The Signature Model X has a 90 kilowatt-hour battery that’s projected to have a range of roughly 250 miles (402 kilometers) per charge, a top speed of 155 miles per hour and a 0-to-60 miles per hour time of 3.8 seconds -- or 3.2 seconds with “Ludicrous” mode. The cost of Signature Model X is $132,000; Ludicrous mode is $10,000 extra. Tesla has not yet released details on what the price of the base version will be.

The interior of the Tesla Motors Model X SUV
The interior of the Tesla Motors Model X SUV
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Standard features include a forward-looking camera, radar and 360 degree sonar sensors to enable advanced autopilot features that Tesla will roll out to customers over time via over-the-air software updates.

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