The Tesla Model S has garnered almost universally rave reviews by the automotive press and wide criticism from some politicians and some investment pundits. An on-line investment advisor recently uncharitably called the Tesla company “Solyndra on wheels.” So what’s next? While the Model S has been delivered in small numbers (a few hundred) to owners and has been compared to a Mercedes or BMW by the automotive press, Tesla is far from being a money-maker. In a bold move it has been showing preproduction versions and taking orders for an ambitious next model. This is the Tesla X – a large, versatile 7 passenger SUV that will be available with two or all-wheel drive and battery packs up to 85kWh in size. The four wheel drive is accomplished by having two electric motors – one in the back and one in the front. The Model S is extremely fast with just one motor. Tesla has not made any performance claims for speed or range. The Model S has been real world tested by a few automotive journalists who got about 235 miles out of a claimed 265 mile battery pack in a Model S.
The Model X has two interesting features. The motors and battery pack are very low down in the car and smaller than the drive train in a conventional passenger car. That should give the Model X a low center of gravity and good handling. From photos of the Model X it looks like the interior is quite large, another benefit of the drive system used by Tesla. The other interesting feature are fold up rear doors that that rise up over the car’s roof. How practical that will be in tight parking spots and garages is unclear. The only production car with the same sort of doors was a 1950’s hyper-expensive Mercedes sports car called the 300SL. In that case the doors were impractical and a bit of an affectation.