In February 2012 when Tesla (s TSLA) first showed off a prototype of its third electric car, a crossover SUV/minivan, the company told us it wanted to launch the car at the end of 2013, with volume sales starting in 2014. Now in its latest annual report Tesla said that it plans to start production of the Model X in late 2014 (hat tip Los Angles Times, Autoblog Green).
The delay sounds like it could be at least a year, which won’t make those early Model X reservation holders happy. Just after showing off the Model X prototype, the company said it had brought in more than $40 million worth of reservations for about 500 cars without any advertising. Of course reservations don’t always translate into sales, and the delay will likely lead to potential customers dropping off that reservation list.
The Model X is an important car for Tesla, as it’s the company’s third car, and would signal to the world that Tesla has bloomed into a full-fledged automaker with a line of cars for all demographics (see my research note for GigaOM Pro, subscription required). The Model X is supposed to seat seven, has cargo space in both the back trunk and the front trunk, and has those “falcon wing” doors, which are a Tesla-designed double-hinged play on gull wing doors. Tesla designed the doors not only to add that extra cool-factor, but also to appeal to, say, a mom or family driving to the mall and parking in a tight spot.
The Model X is supposed to be built on the core technology of the Model S, but with a different chassis, so Tesla will likely spend less on development of the Model X than the Model S. Tesla told the Los Angeles Times and Autoblog Green that the delay of the Model X production is not expected to have a material impact on the company’s profitability in 2013 or 2014. Tesla’s stock is up 1.22 percent in morning trading.