Tesla Motors has introduced a prototype of the 2015 Model X crossover, its third all-electric model behind the and the Model S sedan. The seven-passenger Model X promises to be more versatile and family-friendly than the Model S, and will double the size of Tesla’s current U.S. lineup when it eventually goes on sale sometime in early 2015. (Remember that the Roadster, being based on the Lotus Elise, lost its federal safety exemption and is no longer being sold in the U.S.)
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As expected—based on a recent teaser image—the Model X looks a lot like a Model S that has been stretched vertically. Its grille, headlights, taillights, and general contours are similar to the sedan’s. Even the two cars’ dashboards are nearly identical, with the X inheriting the S’s giant, 17-inch central touch screen and reconfigurable gauge cluster. However, the Model X has two key differences: a set of rear “falcon-wing” doors and a forward-facing third row of seats. (The Model S’s optional way-back row consists of a pair of rear-facing jump seats accessed through the hatch.) Tesla claims this pair of upward-swinging doors eases ingress and egress to both the second and third rows.
Model X buyers will be able to choose between two battery capacities—a 60-kWh pack is standard, and an 85-kWh unit is available. Tesla hasn’t released other technical specifics yet, but it’s safe to assume the X heavier and less aerodynamic than the S. This, plus the additional electric motor on all-wheel-drive models, likely will conspire to give the X a shorter driving range than the S. Tesla says the Model S with the 60-kWh battery can travel up to 230 miles on a single charge, or up to 300 with the beefier 85-kWh unit. The X’s additional pork might also explain why Tesla isn’t offering it with the Model S’s available lower-capacity, 40-kWh battery, which offers the sedan just 160 miles of motoring.
Pricing for the Model X has yet to be announced, but Tesla has said the least-expensive version will start somewhere close to the Model S’s post-$7500 tax credit $49, 900 sticker. Expect to dole out a lot more for the additional range afforded by the higher-capacity battery pack, and more still for the Performance version. Tesla plans to begin producing the crossover near the end of next year, and to deliver the first customer cars early in 2015. Given the Model S’s repeated delays—it has yet to go on sale—and that the Model X already missed its expected reveal at last year’s Frankfurt auto show, we’d suggest taking Tesla’s schedule with a large, winged grain of salt.