Posted on July 06, 2015 by Matt Pressman
During the Tesla Motors (TSLA) yearly shareholder's meeting held in June, Tesla CEO Elon Musk remarked that, "the Model X may arguably be a better SUV than the Model S is a Sedan.” And, this week, speaking with reporters, Musk said the Model X will double the company's sales volume. As audacious as the Model S has been... it appears that team Tesla may have a truly breakthrough SUV with the Tesla Model X.
However, adding more intrigue, Musk had said prior that the Model X would not be officially shown in public until the car's first deliveries. During an earnings conference call, the question that prompted this was: “Is there going to be, you know, any advanced showings of it at any auto shows ahead of the launch?” Elon’s cryptic answer was: “You know, because there are these different features that I mentioned — I’m being sort of intentionally obtuse — we’re not going to show it until it gets delivered.”
That said, we wanted to dig a little deeper into what's currently "known" about the Model X at this stage. The folks over at Fortune recently provided a helpful infographic (see below) to preview a few things relative to the forthcoming Model X. As noted below, the dual motor, all-wheel-drive Model X will seat seven, with two trunks (front and back), falcon wing doors, and autopilot capability. And although gas prices have lowered (and remain volatile), SUV sales have been steadily on the rise (up 12.4% since May of last year). And although other luxury carmakers are planning more eco-friendly SUV options, they're mostly hybrids with a back-up gas engine.
What else can we gather (thus far) about the Model X? Although some recent news items may be speculative, they do seem plausible (and exciting) as we ready ourselves for Tesla's next big automotive product launch...
According to Electrek, the crossover SUV Model X seems to have much more traction ahead of its launch than the Model S had. During the summer of 2012, before Tesla started deliveries on the Model S, Tesla Motors had around 12,000 reservations with deposits on the all-electric sedan or about half of what they currently have for their crossover-SUV. Now, Tesla could have over 24,000 reservations for the crossover-SUV, twice as much as the company had for the Model S before its official launch in 2012. Tesla confirmed back in December that they had around 20,000 reservations for the vehicle, the company could have added more than 4,000 reservations during the past two quarters. This number is in line with a tally created by members of the Tesla Motors Club.
Financial writer George Zack explains, "The large influx of Model X pre-orders stems from Americans’ renewed interest in crossover SUVs, but also reflects a masterstroke from Tesla — targeting an underserved yet rapidly growing target market: women. The company’s CEO Elon Musk has said that more than half of Model X reservations have come from women, who have recently been more active as car shoppers. According to data from J.D. Power, women accounted for 40% of all car and truck sales last year, up from 36% five years ago. Furthermore, research from industry group ‘The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers’ suggests women spend about $300 billion annually on purchasing and maintaining vehicles."
Fast Production Ramp
Zack also noted that, "Backed by improved production capacity and a healthy flow of pre-orders, Tesla may surprise the more cautious investors and analysts with strong Model X volumes this year." And, during the most recent earnings conference call, Musk explained that overall vehicle production might actually double in Q4 if all goes right. Much of that hinges on the “ramp” for Model X production. Musk noted that the Model X should be available (to configure) on Tesla’s website this summer, with initial deliveries late Q3. "I drove the latest prototype of it [the Model X] today and it was, like, wow, this is by far the best SUV.” He added, "Performance is surreal...nothing to compare it to.”
Class III Towing Capability
Jim Chen, Tesla's VP of Regulatory Affairs who was speaking at the Georgia Technology Summit back in April, also revealed an interesting tidbit, "This [Model X] vehicle will have Class III towing capability. That means over 5,000 pounds, actually close to 10,000 pounds of towing capability.” The impressive Class III rating allows for a Gross Trailer Weight (GTW) of up to 8,500 pounds. So if you have a 1,500 pound trailer you can lug around another 7,000 pounds of whatever. A Class III hitch can handle a wide variety of loads, including a medium-sized travel trailer or a decent-sized fishing boat.
Model X Vision
To get more insight into Tesla's overarching outlook for the Model X, it's helpful to hear Elon Musk's original vision as outlined in this older, yet informative video below...