With Deliveries of the Tesla Model X Due to Begin Tonight. Here’s What We Know Thus Far About the Luxury Electric SUV

This evening, somewhere between 7pm and 8pm PDT (2-3am Wednesday morning UTC) Tesla CEO Elon Musk will hand over keys of the first production Tesla Model X crossover SUVs to a handful of select customers at an exclusive launch event held at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

Broadcast to the world via an official Tesla video stream, the launch event will also be the first time Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] has officially detailed the full specification list of its production Model X. While we’ve seen plenty of the Model X in recent months, both via spy shots and screen grabs from those lucky enough to be on the Model X Signature Series, we’ve yet to see the production Model X from the inside, or experience first-hand how the Model X handles in the real world.

Tonight, we'll find out what the insides really look like too.

Tonight, we’ll find out what the insides really look like too.

Sadly, we’re not going to be able to answer those questions today as we’re not able to attend this evening’s event in person. We will however be glued to the live stream like everyone else who is too far away to attend — and we’ve been promised a drive in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, we thought it would be a good idea to piece together some of the information we’ve collected about the Tesla Model X thus far, as well as a couple of predictions about what the production SUV will offer alongside the familiar features found in the Tesla Model S.

240-miles + range, Supercharger enabled

Despite sharing the same basis chassis, battery pack options and drivetrain, as the Tesla Model S electric sedan, the Tesla Model X is heavier and less aerodynamic than the Model S. As a consequence, it uses slightly more energy to cover the same distance than a Model S would — meaning that its range is smaller.

According to Tesla’s official design studio page for the Model X, Tesla’s high-end Model X Signature Series — the limited-edition, every-option-ticked car that we’ll see delivered to customers tonight — should manage 240 miles of range per charge on the EPA test cycle with the standard 90 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

That’s about the same as Tesla’s entry level Model S 70D, and about 28 miles less per charge than the comparable Tesla Model S P90D flagship performance model.

Remember though, that the estimated range given for the Tesla Model X Signature Series is one for a car which is built as the high-end performance model rather than the long-legged marathon runner. If we compare its performance to the Model S P90D, it’s worth remembering that the Model S P90D isn’t Tesla’s longest-range Model S. That accolade goes to the Model S 90D, which has an estimated range of 286 miles per charge.

Range will be slightly less than the Model S -- but the Model X is heavier and less aerodynamic.

Range will be slightly less than the Model S — but the Model X is heavier and less aerodynamic.

In other words, we’re expecting a lower-performance Tesla Model X fitted with a 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack to offer more than 240 miles of range per charge, perhaps even as much as 260 miles in ideal situations. Lower-spec models we’d guess will offer somewhere between 200 and 230 miles per charge as their lower-limit, but given every Model X will come with Supercharger capability as standard — and there are few Supercharger locations more than 200 miles apart in the U.S. and Europe — we’re guessing most customers shouldn’t find a need to worry.

Insane mode and Ludicrous mode available

Hardly a surprise to any hardened fans of the Model S or Model X, Tesla’s Elon Musk has confirmed plenty of times on social media sites like Twitter that the Tesla Model X will ship with Insane mode as standard on higher-end cars, resulting in a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds.

For $10,000 more, customers can opt for the performance package, on cars like the Model X P90D, decreasing that 0-60 acceleration time to just 3.2 seconds. While that’s slightly slower than the 2.8-second 0-60 time of the Model S P90D, what we said above about the shape and weight of the Model X still stands: it’s heavier and less aerodynamic due to its SUV body style than the Model S, meaning it’s bound to be a tad slower.

Either way, we think most people will find the 3.6-second 0-60 acceleration time more than enough — and hard to use in anger in most driving scenarios.

Autopilot capabilities, version 7.0 as standard

Like all Tesla Model S cars made after October 2014, every single Tesla Model X to roll off the production line will come with autonomous driving hardware fitted as standard. Like the Model S, we’d guess entry-level cars will come with basic safety functionality made possible by the hardware — such as forward and side collision alert and automatic braking — enabled as standard. While Tesla hasn’t confirmed how it will offer autopilot on the Model X, we’d guess that the more advanced features of Autopilot such as hands-free driving and autonomous parking will be part of an optional tech package on lower-spec Model X cars and a standard feature on the highest-spec models.

Version 7.0 will be standard on all new Model X cars -- with auto pilot capability on suitably-specced models.

Version 7.0 will be standard on all new Model X cars — with auto pilot capability on suitably-specced models.

What we can tell you however is that every Model X to be made will come with the latest version of Tesla’s operating system — version 7.0 — as standard. Currently being beta tested by a fleet of volunteer Model S owners and due to be rolled out in the next few weeks, Version 7.0 includes a new-look interface to facilitate autonomous driving functionality, as well as the inclusion of a new Clock app and a redesigned energy monitor.

Five, six or seven seats?

When the Tesla Model X debuted as a concept car back in 2012, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made a big deal about the Model X’s light and airy interior, its 7-seat capabilities and the ease in which adults could access the third-row seats — all made possible thanks to the  Model X’s unique and innovative second-row falcon doors.

Opt for five, six, or seven seats.

Opt for five, six, or seven seats.

As a brief reminder, those famous doors lift upwards like gullwing doors — but fold in the middle like a falcon’s wings to allow operation in even the tightest of parking spaces. This gives completely unobstructed access to the second and third row seats, and ensures that the banged heads and bruised knees associated with getting into most third-row seats found in SUVs and Minivans are a thing of the past.

But while the falcon doors are standard with all Model X cars, customers can opt to build their Model X with five seats, six seats (replacing the second-row bench seat with two individually adjustable seats) or seven seats.

Watch with us

As always, we’ll be watching the live stream tonight with interest, and we’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest news as it happens. So be sure to join us tonight at www.transportevolved.com to take part in the fun!


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