THE Tesla Model X, the Californian car maker’s long-awaited SUV-styled people mover, has been sprung looking much closer to its production form.
Spy images hitting the Wheels inbox overnight show the car that should have been launched late last year – the project has suffered from several unexplained delays despite Australian order books opening up in 2013 – will keep its tricky “falcon” rear doors that will save the bumps in car tight parks, but could potentially result in a few cringeworthy crunches in low-roofed garages.
We’re yet to see the Model X wearing its showroom-ready skin after last seeing it in what the company said was near-production guise at last year’s Detroit motor show. The company now says that the first Australian Model X deliveries will roll out early next year after US customers start receiving them late this year.
Strangely, customers will have the first look at the new Model X, with Tesla founder Elon Musk saying the production version of the SUV won’t be seen anywhere else before US deliveries start late this year.
The seven-seat Model X looks like a stretched and enlarged version of its smaller fastback sibling, the Model S hatchback, and is expected to have the same choice of several low-set battery pack options, arranged in a sandwich beneath the vehicle’s floor, that vary the reach of the pure electric drivetrain.
The Model X is also expected to benefit from a number of software upgrades rolled out to Model S owners that Tesla claims will eventually include the ability to drive autonomously under certain conditions.
The new software, dubbed as update 7.0, will arrive only a few months after the most recent 6.2 update that added several electronic driver aids to the car’s functionality.
Tesla is expected to sell the Model X with full-time all-wheel-drive, adopting the same twin-motor driveline as the longer-range 85kWh versions of the 2014 Wheels Car of the Year finalist, the Model S, which uses a high-performance motor nestled over the rear axle and a second supplementary one between the front wheels.
Pricing is the big unknown, but Tesla has indicated that as it gains economy of scale, it will pass on savings to buyers. That suggests the Model X could land in Australia with a 60kWh battery pack for around $130,000 sometime next year. Upping the battery pack to 85kWh is expected to cost less than $160,000.
Remember, too, that when you buy a Tesla, you’re sitting on a seat built by Australian automotive component maker Futuris, which has moved into a factory near Tesla’s US production line to supply the electric car maker more efficiently.
Worldwide, Tesla is sitting on about 20,000 pre-orders for the Model X. Potential Australian owners can pre-order one for a $6000 deposit.
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