11 Comments

Summary:

Tesla’s unveiling of the Model X, an SUV-minivan electric car, this week signals to the world that the electric car can truly go mainstream despite the current difficulties in the EV market. A minivan — the world’s least cool car — just got hip, green, and sporty.

SONY DSC

Tesla’s unveiling of the Model X, an SUV-minivan electric car, this week signals to the world that the electric car can truly go mainstream despite the current difficulties in the EV market. In short, a minivan — the world’s least cool car — just got hip, green, and sporty.

Tesla decked out the car with innovative design features that could attract the soccer-mom crowd. That includes the so-called falcon-wing doors that open vertically and enable passengers to stand up in the car when packing in items like kids and groceries.

In addition Tesla is also telling the world that it’s bloomed into a full-fledged automaker that has a line of cars for all demographics, not just an expensive luxury car (the Roadster) for the One Percent.

To read my full analysis go check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I like what Tesla is doing, however I wonder how well the gull wing doors will work in parking garages, tight parking spaces, and accidents.

    1. I have to agree on the accident part with pneconomics. What do you do if god forbid you have a roll over and the car is on it’s roof. How do you get the people out. That’s the major downside to gull wing doors. Otherwise another nice looking vehicle. Best of luck Tesla with this.

      1. On the Mercedes SLS (which is obviously much more expensive, but has gullwings too) has exploding bolts in the door which detaches them in the event of a crash. Not sure if the Model X does though.

      2. With the battery on the bottom of the vehicle, the low center of gravity makes a rollover much more unlikely than your typical SUV. Plus you have the two front standard doors, and the rear hatch.

    2. Agreed, specifically my garage can’t accommodate the height of those wings. Horizontal clearance isn’t a concern, but vertically it just wouldn’t fit in my house…

    3. Yeah, my thought is that with standard doors you can slide out with less horizontal space if required, but gullwings require the same amount of horizontal space all of the time.

      The only reason I can tell why they’ve got them is to allow more space to get into the back, but a funky-hinged normal door might have been more appropriate.

  2. Katie Fehrenbacher Friday, February 10, 2012

    @pneconommics, Tesla tweaked the standard gull wing doors so that they have a double hinge so they can fit in much tighter spaces. See these photos and this video:
    http://gigaom.com/cleantech/tesla-model-x-launch-party-photos/
    http://gigaom.com/cleantech/the-first-photos-of-teslas-electric-suv-the-model-x/
    http://gigaom.com/cleantech/hands-on-video-with-teslas-electric-suv-the-model-x/

  3. Katie, while I agree this is going to be an important car, not just for the 1% like the Roadster is, it’s still going to be priced for the 3% or 4%. If you will need 300 mile range, you’re going to need to spend > $70K on this.

    As much as I love what they are doing, they still won’t be meeting the needs of all demographics.

    1. Katie Fehrenbacher KenG Friday, February 10, 2012

      Yeah agree with you that it’s not close to being mainstream yet, but sliding down there!

  4. This type of car (even in Musk’s words) is aimed at utility and practicality. I have to question the rear doors and the cameras in place of side mirrors.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever felt the need to stand in the back seat of my car. On the other hand, I regularly use the roof rack for bikes, skis, luggage, etc. The doors seem like they’re addressing a problem I don’t have by introducing a new problem. That’s not a trade-off I want to make.

    The side cameras also seem like unnecessary use of technology. When I’m changing lanes, I check my mirror and blind spot in one movement. The way this is currently implemented, I have to check the center of the dash, then turn back the other way to check my blind spot. Seems impractical. Embedding a camera in the mirror would be fine, but leave me my low-tech mirror.

    1. @Tony Camilli, Thanks for your thoughts. Just to followup, the side cameras instead of mirrors are more concept stage, and they might not be in the final production.

Comments have been disabled for this post