I'll admit it, I want to buy a Tesla, even if it makes no financial sense for me to do so.
I saw a model S in person for the first time about a month ago and was struck by just how bland the car looked. It had a vibe that made me think of mazda and not miata or rx7 but whatever their sedans are called. The kind of styling that wouldn't turn a single head.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, I am a big believer that flashing ones wealth is a bad idea - it's gaudy as well as attracts unwanted, potentially dangerous, attention.
I would agree with some previous comments that the design is not extreme which may disappoint some but I think more supports being the best-selling vehicle in its class (gas or electric)(a pretty amazing accomplishment).
The uniqueness of the gullwing doors make a significant statement, which is probably more important at this stage in the companies growth vs satisfying a few people who won't buy because they can't have a roof-mounted rack.
that said, i've heard people compliment the car profusely on its beautifulness, so you might be surprised by how pretty it looks to the general public
Why the gullwing doors then? That's about as dorky as you can get.
That said I wonder 1) if Tesla's floor mounted batteries would take up the space this tech could conceivable use and 2) if Tesla's extremely high safety rating (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6240862) would be impacted by this design (not to a degree that would lower safety beyond an average car, but not up to their high goals).
If you think about it, any 2-wheel drive SUV isn't even suitable for off-roading.
The Tesla designers have been thinking about that.
I actually saw a Tesla Model S in person just yesterday as one drove by me going the other direction and it looks like the 2013 Intrepid, but it's nice. It's amazing the car could even be here since it was a tourist and 400 km/h away from home driving around the country-side.
The Model S doesn't have to stand out from competitors on its ability to be a status symbol through superior/unique styling. It instead stands out through performance, reliability, refinement, and energy source.
Old money was buying a new Mercedes, Lincoln, or Cadillac and keeping it 10-20 years. Tesla is promoting the keep it three years mentality. Old money hated the new luxury car depreciation hit and would amortize it over many years in a car with classic styling that would not look dated years later.
I can count 18 BWM models more expensive than the model S and 14 that are less expensive .
It didn't exactly look like the online promos I had seen.
An example of an automotive designer whose style was overwhelming would be Chris Bangle (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/02/chris-bangle-le/, http://www.motortrend.com/features/112_0601_chris_bangle_bmw...), whose work at BMW was highly distinctive -- so distinctive that it became quite polarizing. Bangle's design language was so striking that it was easy to lose sight of the personality of individual cars he designed; their "Bangle-ness" was the most visually obvious thing about them.
(I hate people who post LMGTFY links, but seriously.)
I'm not sure about this statement. If you follow the investment news on Tesla, it seems that the Model X was built specifically to fit into a lower price range, and hence get more people into Teslas. The reality is, there's no way they are going to sell 500,000 luxury cars; they needed a "real" car. And I think that's a great strategy.
This is an interesting car. I have to admit I've been a Tesla skeptic, but between the crash tests and the Model X (and whether they can really build it for the stated price), I'm coming around.
I am disappointed in that prospect as it makes a sub 40k car even less likely. It is one thing to make profitable vehicles at the price point he is at; its easy; its another to get the pieces to work in the 40k down market. If the X was going to be in the 40K, with 60k well equipped I would be impressed.
When he gets there, and its a big when, he will be up against a whole slew of similar and possibly better vehicles than he is facing now. Simply put, while he brought electric to a mass produced car he still isn't making enough to matter. Put it this way, Subaru sells more in a month than he sells in a year and Subaru is a small player. Even 2014 goals won't exceed Porsche's same year sales let alone the dogs like Mitsubishi.
The styling is bland an unoriginal, it looks like every other car for sale these days, whats worse, its bland an expensive, I can afford a focus, I cant even begin to hope to afford a Model X.
Having recently driven a Kia Optima, Ford Focus, Fiat 500 and a couple older vehicles (2011 Crown Vic, 1997 Town Car, 1967 Cadillac) I dont see a substantive difference, the difference in my mind is less a function of design, and more a function of the materiel chosen to implement the design.
All of these cars clearly had a whole bunch of thought put into where the controls are and how they functioned, but what made something feel quality, was the choice of materiel and how well it was put together, the design qualities were more or less equal.
What makes the Tesla innovative to me is the technology in the drivetrain, not the inside of the car.
My personal tastes would dictate having more things labeled with words over say otherwise inscrutable symbols - I rented a 2010 DTS once, it took me 15 min to figure out how to turn either the wipers or the headlights on, because I couldn't figure out what the icon meant.
I sat in line for that compartment behind a Lamborghini Countach once. With like a 36 inch curb height, he could certainly fit in a normal compartment. But he couldn't open the doors, so he'd be stuck in the car the whole trip.
First world problems...
It's roughly a 30 minute trip. Would the wait for the different carriage be worth it ?
Not being able to get out of your car in an emergency would be a bigger problem.
If you didn't notice, the picture on the linked page is interactive. Click-and-drag to open/close the doors to see.
IIRC the doors also don't need to open as far up as in most pictures. In fact, they have sensors to prevent them from smashing into garage roofs and the likes and then you can weasel out under them.
Generally if I have to ask the price, I probably can't afford it.
I want an electric car, I want one with a range of about 400 miles, with charging stations to support it. jAs soon as the electric car is as easy for me to use as a gasoline powered one, I'm ready to drive one.
For what it's worth, my line of work (making all those mobile devices work) requires an enormous amount of driving.
Edit: 'Deliveries will begin in 2014 and priced comparable to a similarly equipped Model S.' is the exact quote.
Maybe I'm just not in the target demographic, but I can't imagine I'm the only one who wants roof racks on my electric SUV...
Really, the first hint is right there in the marketing copy: "the best of an SUV with the benefits of a minivan" - which translated means "we know minivans are the most useful vehicle for families imaginable, but nobody likes buying a minivan, so we've made a vehicle that tries to have the functionality of a minivan, while not looking like one."
On paper, minivans are spectacular for families. They're affordable. They haul people in relative comfort, they're easy to get kids in and out of, they drive well, and they get pretty good MPG.
On reality, very few people actually want to own one. Ergo, millions of Americans drive SUVs who would really be better off in minivans. Which has led the industry to make lots of SUVs that try to offer the utility of a minivan, in a different form factor.
In doing so, they lose the "Utility" part of the SUV acronym, or at least lose its traditional meaning. Out of the modern crop of SUVs, there are very few that could handle anything more arduous than a carefully grated dirt road. Which really, is fine, because how often does your average family-mobile need to ford a stream?
Discounting the awesome technology and innovation, that's essentially what Tesla is trying to do with the Model X. And while I find the Model S stunning, this vehicle remonds me of the Buick Rendezvous, Pontiac Aztec and Toyota Venza. Not particularly stunning cars.
I sincerely hope Tesla is successful, and I'd love to own a Model S, but I'm afraid the styling of the Model X is a step in the wrong direction. Every time I've seen a Model S in person, I think, "That's a great looking car." I fear few people will have the same reaction to the Model X.
SUVs became very popular and displaced minivans as the preferred family personal transport because the car companies put lots of money into promoting them for that rule after government safety and other standards that applied to regular passenger autos were extend to apply to minivans.
(Minivans were largely created and marketed as a major class as a response to those standards being applied to passenger autos in the first place; before minivans, the role was filled by station wagons.)
The "utility" function of SUVs was central, they weren't really called SUVs and weren't nearly as popular.
And crossovers blending SUVs and Minivan features are a result of many of those standards now being applied to SUVs, making the distinct class less valuable to the automakers, allowing them to focus more on the market and less on gaming the system. But, without an incentive to game the system, there's also no incentive to create a big marketing push to overcome the preference for SUVs that passed game-the-system marketing created.
A regular (non-plugin) Prius will go maybe a mile on the battery alone, and only in the right circumstances. Acceleration on the battery is poor, and battery-only mode is limited to 40-45MPH. It'll start the engine for you on demand, so this is no problem when driving, of course, it just illustrates that the battery performance isn't all that important.
Depending on how you drive it, cold weather can hurt gas mileage. If you're driving in a way that the engine doesn't run much, then it may have to run the engine more to generate heat for the heater. However, if you're driving in a way that runs the engine a lot anyway (highway driving, decent amounts of acceleration hard enough to require the gas engine, etc.) then you get the same kind of "free" heat as a normal car.
Driving my Prius v, I'm battery-only basically when cruising on surface streets, sitting idle, or maneuvering around small, slow residential streets. And maybe, maybe if I'm accelerating away from a stop on a decent downhill slope with nobody behind me.
My friend here has a 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybird, and she barely notices a difference in range year-round.
The storage capacity of the fuel is not affected (much) by temperature.
From a simple perspective, the batteries in a hybrid just serve to smooth out the energy demand and provide regenerative braking.
The car has a protection mechanism to prevent the battery from freezing, and when left over night in the cold without a charger, it will actually run an auxiliary heater to keep the battery warm enough.
The reviewer expected the charge to be the same in the morning, so he called their technical support when it was so low. They didn't explain that the charge can substantially decrease overnight when parked in the cold, because it automatically runs a heater for the battery. Instead they suggested that it was an erroneous reading, and that it would correct once the battery heated up.
It wasn't really a design flaw so much as a mistake from technical support exacerbated by an overbearing response attacking a journalist for not being omniscient.
(but I realize that car shuttles requiring 4 40lb downhill mountain bikes isn't exactly your typical use case for a car! It's just an important part of what I personally need it to do...)
In my experience, bikes on the hitch rack hurt gas mileage less than the roof ones, but I haven't been super rigorous with the comparison...
Despite all this, I irrationally yearn for this vehicle.
What the hell were they thinking? The door has been left wide open for someone to do it right. I'll be in the market for two new SUV's by early 2014. That's when I expect to go past 250,000 miles on my current ones. I've been saying I was going to buy two Teslas. Now I can't see a way to even remotely consider the idea.
Sadly this feels like a lot of other companies with roots in the Slicon Valley community: A bunch of really young guys making decisions completely outside the context of the realities of families in the real world. Keep your falcon doors, they sure are cool but they are a colosal failure to capture my reality and that of millions of other potential customers.
EDIT: I secretly wanted Tesla to build a really nice electric boat as well. I envisioned buying the set: An electric SUV pulling an electric boat to the lake. No, instead they build a bullshit SUV that misses the "Sport" and "Utility" part in "SUV". All you are left with is a vehicle and a useless one if you truly use an SUV for an active lifestyle that involves more than skateboarding.
I'm going to wager that Tesla knows more about their market than you do, and that roof racks are not as important to that market as you think they are.
They're my favorite thing about the car. I hadn't even considered the issue with putting things on the roof, because I've never put anything on a roof before. I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't need that capability.
The hack to solve this is the roof rack.
I think the best solution is still a diesel SUV/pickup, and a Model S (or smaller) electric car.
Tesla's claim is that this model merges the best of SUV's and minivans. That's a tall order. And the falcon doors are completely opposite that definition.
In our case, we live a reasonably active life style. Fishing, kayaking, sculling, stand-up paddle-boarding, biking, camping are typical activities for our family.
We are also into model airplanes, with some being rather large. I've been known to strap a fuselage or two to the roof rack to to flying.
I do a bit of woodworking and home improvement work. It isn't too uncommon for me to go to Home Depot and strap a bunch of lumber to the roof rack.
So, for me, when you say "SUV" and "minivan" along with "the best of both" the last thing I'd put down on the list of specs would be doors that make the roof absolutely unusable. This is what I call a Gucci SUV. One that never gets dirty and never sees sports-utility work. It's just a bigger car and a beautiful one at that.
The only way I can possibly justify getting one of these is to keep either our SUV or minivan for lugging stuff around. If I do that I might as well buy a car and benefit from better aerodynamic efficiency. I am disappointed because I was truly hoping to go all electric next year.
That's how roughly 99% of SUV owners use their SUV, so I don't really see the problem here....
Here's a clue. The primary demographic for the SUV market hasn't been Mountain Dew-chugging bungie jumpers for a long time. The primary demographic is moms.
This is what's created the crossover market seemingly out of thin air; and it's why Tesla said "minivan". And why the X includes a third row. That's my theory anyway.
I also had thought the X was going to be a failure because of its lack of roof racks. But I don't think so any more. I'm guessing the X is aimed straight at the wealthy eco-mom segment.
Good luck as well with those falcon wing doors when you're trying to park at your downtown football stadium or of course, wanting any roof accessories. Once again, not a crossover, because crossover basically means a small engine SUV. This is a sedan with a flat ass.
Wouldn't there be major safety concerns during a rollover? How the hell would you get out of your burning Model X?
Why are suspensions softer in the US? Is that simply related to the fact that a large slice of the rural market is driving on unpaved roads frequently? I would assume this would be an issue elsewhere in the world also, but perhaps not in Europe.
I know that older Cadillac models would have very soft suspension (that's why people refer to them as boats, they take bumps like they were riding waves). I can't attest to that being a factor in any higher incidence of rollovers. If there was in fact a higher percentage of rollover accidents in the US, I would put more money on this being due to the fact that the US really likes truck-based SUVs (Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Blazer/Tahoe, Toyota 4Runner, etc) with lots of weight really high up. My 1998 4Runner even had a warning sticker saying you can't corner like you would in a car without risk of rollover.
In short, people buy cars they don't know how to drive.
They make excellent toys for rich people, but are irrelevant to everyone who is not some sort of millionaire entrepreneur or high-paid executive.
Electric vehicles are incredibly attractive and massively beneficial to society if they are adopted at scale. Unfortunately, Tesla seems content to cultivate an image as an ultra-luxury brand, and hasn't attempted to lower the barrier to entry for electric vehicles.
I have no problem with companies that only want to sell expensive things to very wealthy people, but we can't possible pretend that companies like these will matter in the grand scheme of things.
Wake me up when we can buy an electric car for $12,000.
^^ that's the exciting bit, right?
However, you don't get there without Tesla. Why not?
Because you can't compete with low-margin products in a low-margin industry, and still innovate in a sector where you need lots of R&D, where component costs are currently expensive but are expected to drop over time, etc.
Even the much-celebrated entry, at scale, of other manufacturers into the electric-car market is due to Tesla.
Tesla is kinda like Apple in this. They built a very adventurous, dangerously new, premium product, and really committed to it (think mac/iphone; like Tesla, it's not like there weren't other similar products/concepts, but a good consumer product hadn't existed). Upon market validation of the concept, other people jumped in (windowed PCs with initially non-clipping windows; initially crappy android phones).
The reason this is exciting? Because: 'electric cars for everyone! woohoo!'
IT'S VALIDATED THE MARKET! They've waded into a real, big industry, taken on incredibly ambitious problems ('start a car company', 'make an electric car'), and in the process created demand for a new premium product, something the market 'didn't know it wanted'.
Without Tesla demonstrating that there's a premium market segment here to be targeted -- essentially doing market research for larger companies -- we don't get there as fast.
Other people invented (windowed desktops|electric cars). But without (Mac|Tesla) productizing it successfully, how many years would it be before the consumer enjoyed (windowed OS'|electric cars)?
Mobile communication is incredibly attractive and massively beneficial to society if they are adopted at scale. Unfortunately, cellphone manufacturers seem content to cultivate an image as an ultra-luxury brand, and hasn't attempted to lower the barrier to entry for mobile.
Wake me up when we can buy an cellphone for $120."
This is a classic Catch 22, and Tesla's strategy for this is to start at the higher end with performance and luxury cars, where the costs are more acceptable, refine the technology, learn the lessons, wait for battery prices to come down, build the brand and product volume and release cars closer and closer to mass market.
Look at the history: we started with an sports car (the Roadster), which could get away with high price and average range by being quick, then a luxury sedan at a lower price point (Model S), now more of a family car (Model X). Affordable cars are in the pipeline, this is just the route we have to go through to get there.
Personally, I think the strategy is masterful. Every other car manufacturer went straight to mass market, without taking into account that the economics didn't work.
Having recently bought a new Lancer, I find this very exciting. By the time I'm ready for a new car, it's quite possible there will be numerous EVs in my price range. This in contrast to when I was car shopping ~8 months ago and didn't even consider Mitsubishi's EV because it cost as much as a mid-range Lancer and looked like a glorified golf cart.
Ford isn't famous for making a car, and there's good reason behind comparing Musk to Ford.
Tesla makes cars and they're funded by car sales, but the fundamental game changer they bring to the table is their battery tech and the infrastructure they're building in order to make it viable. When every car is driven by batteries, Tesla will have an unbelievably huge head start in finding, moving, selling, then using the power inside of them - whether it be made by Ford, Toyota, Nissan, or anyone else.
But I see your point, I think. They are building the entire infrastructure that goes with the electric car, not just the car itself. I agree that's very smart.
In what way is it better?
I guess it would be more correct to say "Tesla is a battery tech company." Still, people are too fixated on the fact that Tesla makes luxury cars. Much more important is the fact that they make very efficient, high performance, safe energy systems.
MSRP*1 as low as $19,185
Price after federal tax credit. Net price shown includes the full $7,500 tax
credit*1. $26,685 MSRP* †,† without federal tax savings ranging from $0 up to
60,000 is relatively easily affordable to the likes of doctors, dentists, lawyers, software developers, and more.
The estimated monthly payment on their website is 579/month which is actually less than I pay now for my subaru forester. (The loan is twice as long, but if I can afford to pay if for 3 years, I most likely could pay it for 6).
What's exciting to me is that these electric cars are just as good, often times better, than their non-electric counterparts. These cars can be bought by regular (although still quite well off) people. That's a pretty big accomplishment.
I can't wait to see what they do to make a more affordable mass market car.
Seems weird that they went for the SUV crossover next. Although I guess that's the next rung on the ladder in order of bringing the price down. Fancy 2 seater -> Fancy sedan -> semi-fancy suv -> semi-fancy van | semi-fancy car.
Now that the public has been primed for electric vehicles and Tesla is building out a charging infrastructure, they're beginning to target the middle-of-the-road owners, not just early adopters.
I really like the way these guys think. This is truly disruptive design at work.
> The automaker said that potential customers awaiting its upcoming Model X--billed as the best of an SUV with the benefits of a minivan, in an electric car--were going to have to wait a bit longer.
> Production on the Model X had been expected to begin late this year, with deliveries beginning in 2014. Production has now been pushed back to late 2014.
I drive a sporty 2-door SUV and what I've long hoped to find was a 2-door suv with sliding doors - basically mini-van doors. The Peugot 1007 is the only vehicle I've ever seen like that and it was a little too econo-box for my taste.
Probably the same chances that you will knock over your child when you swing open a conventional door. That being said, they'll learn quickly to step back from opening doors.
Delivers soccer parent SUV. With lambo doors.
Evidently the roadster doesn't count.
Computers, and Smartphones have that level of attachment. The other stand-out items are cars and houses. A lot of people define their identities by their choice of those items.
I am in... but I can only hit pavement running at a much further level of dev than now...
It's ridiculous that the web is in such a state that I thought this was a very impressive feature. You either get redirected, occasionally against your will, or have to add .au to your current URL and hope it works.
If I visit a link on HN, I want to reach the same site everyone's talking about. Not teslamotors.de or somesuch crap. I'm looking at you, Google, among other offenders.
Offering a localized site, in a clearly visible but unobtrusive way, is a good choice and I'd like to see more sites adapt this pattern.
Ever tried parking in a cramped multi-storey car park? You'll be crawling out of your car via the foot well. It's the main reason they've never taken off, but I'm guessing only the rear doors are like this.
Also imagine a child sticking a finger in it while it's closing, turning it into a meat grinder.
And, BTW, not much wrong with conventional doors either. Judging by the tens of millions of cars sold every year wold wide I'd say conventional doors work pretty well.
A real innovation would be doors that slide into the chasis like the BMW z1.
In lower price ranges and in the supermini category, Peugeot made an attempt with 1007 . The electric door design (by Delphi) was sound but the car was otherwise, with numerous other flaws, a failure in every sense.
Is there been ANY significantly new feature in the latest models?
The Model S is 56.5" tall. So assuming the above image is to scale and my math is correct, the Model X is 85.65" tall with doors fully open.
85" tall... For reference, a Ford F-150 is 75" tall (http://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/specifications/exterior/) and a Ford F-250 is 79.8" (http://www.ford.com/trucks/superduty/specifications/exterior...) in the worst case.
Granted, most Tesla buyers are not average people with average-sized garages. But still, that's tall.
There's a reason more cars don't have gull-wing doors. They aren't practical for a lot of spaces.
And yes, I did see the in-garage-with-doors-open image.
They put it there because all normal gas cars need it, but electric cars don't need it, or need a very small one.
The rest of the car, I love it.
I want a Model S AWD. The X doesn't have a single real trunk so it sucks if you park anywhere non secure.
It does make the S v X v Blue Star decision a little harder.
How do you fit a family of 5 in this thing like you can in a minivan? Honestly, it seems more of a station wagon minus the storage.