For the first time since Tesla launched it Model S electric car back in 2012, the Fremont facility where the luxury plug-in is made has stopped making cars.
Unlike General Motors — which stopped production of its Volt electric car multiple times during the first few years of sales — Tesla’s halt in production isn’t because supply is outstripping demand.
Instead, the two-week pause in production is part of a carefully-planned factory upgrade which will install new equipment in the Bay-Area facility to enable Tesla to begin pre-production runs of its upcoming 2015 Model X Crossover SUV.
Due to enter into final testing towards the end of this year with early deliveries promised by Q2 2015, Tesla’s all-new crossover SUV is based on the same chassis used for the Tesla Model S. It also features a choice of the same 60 kilowatt-hour or 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery packs found in the Tesla Model S but is powered by two, not one, powerful electric motors to give all-wheel drive capabilities.
While Tesla’s final Model X specifications have yet to be released, the Model X will feature the same touch-screen display central to the Model S interior, as well as the same Internet-connected, remotely-upgradable operating system. This will enable Tesla to add features to customers cars long after they have left the factory.
Designed to cross shop with other premium crossover SUVs like the Audi Q8, the Tesla Model X will come in either five seat or seven seat variants, with the second row of seats moving forward to give access to the optional third row. Unlike the Model S, the two optional extra seats are capable of accommodating full-size adults, not just children.
Alongside these practical features of course comes the Model X’s unusual Falcon Wing rear doors. Swinging upwards like gull-wing doors, but folding as they do so to in order to allow access in tight parking spaces, Tesla’s Falcon Wing doors give unparalleled access to the rear two rows of Model X seats and are arguably the most distinguishing design feature of this important electric crossover SUV.
Tesla says the factory refit, worth an estimated $100 million, will see an additional 25 robots added to the facility to form the basis of a second production line. In addition, the existing production line will receive necessary upgrades to the body and general assembly areas to enable it to handle both the Model S and Model X production.
It’s worth noting however that while the Model X production line upgrades are now in full swing, it doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing the Model X ahead of schedule. As with any automotive production line, it will take months of fine-tuning, programming and pre-production tests before the line is up to speed and churning out Model X crossover SUVs alongside Tesla’s iconic electric sedan.
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