Tesla says it plans to have Model X Alpha prototypes by next week

Elon Musk explaining falcon wings

Despite some delays for with Tesla’s crossover SUV/minivan electric car, the Model X, Tesla said in its letter to shareholders on Thursday that it plans to have operational Alpha prototypes ready next week. Tesla will use those Alphas to confirm final design decisions, and for testing purposes like tweaking the electronics, testing the durability and maybe even crashing some of ’em.

The Model X prototype unveiled in early 2012. Image courtesy of Gigaom.

The Model X prototype unveiled in early 2012. Image courtesy of Gigaom.

Tesla said the Model X Beta prototypes (as close to production ready as possible) will be ready later this year. The production-ready Model X will be shipped starting in the spring of 2015. Here’s what some of the Model S Alpha’s looked like back in 2011. Some of them are just shells and some are more full-bodied.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in the earnings call that the Model X Alphas will  be pretty advanced compared to the Model S Alphas, and will quickly move into Betas after about 3 months. They’ll be ramping up Model X production much more quickly than the slower ramp up of the Model S.

Because the Model X is based on the basic powertrain design of the Model S, Tesla faces less risk when it comes to launching the Model X compared to when it first launched the Model S. But some of the more daring design choices of the Model X — like the “falcon wing” doors, or if it implements the side cameras (to replace the side mirrors) — could be difficult to deliver.

Model X

Model X

Here’s a bigger collection of some of the first photos of the Model X. And a video I did with the Model X prototype back in 2012.

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