By Steve & Tamami Laser
Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers in Silicon Valley who wanted to prove that electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars. Tesla engineers first designed a powertrain for a sports car built around an AC induction motor, patented in 1888 by Nikola Tesla, the inventor who inspired the company’s name. The Tesla Roadster was launched in 2008 (shown above as the 2.5 version).
In 2012, Tesla launched Model S, billed as “the world’s first premium electric sedan.” Built from the ground up to be 100 percent electric, Model S has redefined the concept of an EV. In late 2014, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled two dual motor all-wheel drive configurations of Model S that further improve the vehicle’s handling and performance.
Now with more than 50,000 vehicles on the road worldwide, Tesla has launched Model X, the automaker’s first crossover vehicle. Unveiled by Musk at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. on Sept. 29, Model X features exhilarating acceleration, Falcon Wing doors, and room for three rows of seats.
Built electric from the ground up, Tesla says Model X is designed to be “the safest car on the road.” Tesla’s own crash tests indicate that Model X is engineered to receive a 5-star safety rating in all categories, which would make it the first SUV to ever do so according to the company.
Not needing a gas engine under the hood, Model X has a large crumple zone to absorb the energy of a high-speed impact. The battery’s location under the floor gives Model X an extremely low center of gravity, potentially reducing the risk of rollover common in most SUVs. Aluminum pillars reinforced with steel rails protect occupants and the battery while improving roof stiffness.
Model X comes standard with automatic emergency braking and side collision avoidance to help prevent accidents. Tesla says it makes the only standard AEB system that works at high-speed.
Every Model X carries a forward-looking camera, radar, and 360-degree sonar sensors to enable advanced autopilot features. Tesla says its over-the-air software updates regularly improve the sophistication of these features, enabling increasingly capable safety and convenience features like Autosteer and Autopark, and bringing the Model X ever closer to autonomous operation.
The automaker says that Model X is the world’s cleanest SUV on the inside, too. The front fascia is designed with a functional duct that pushes air through the first true HEPA filter system available in an automobile allowing “medical-grade air to fill the cabin, no matter what is going on outside.”
Musk says that the Model X Falcon Wing doors offer unprecedented convenience, entry, and maneuverability. They provide seamless ingress and egress into the second and third row. No longer do parents have to cantilever themselves to avoid hitting their child’s head on the roof as they place them in a car seat.
The double-hinged Falcon Wing doors open up then out, requiring only 30 cm of space on the side of the vehicle. Each door is equipped with capacitive, inductive, and sonar sensors to monitor surroundings and avoid contact with obstacles around the car, making it possible to park in tight spots. Musk and his helpers conduced a live demonstration with a Brand X (pardon the pun) minivan and SUV to show how the doors operate in tight quarters.
Monopost seats move independently, sliding and tilting forward and back. They’re designed to allow passengers easy access to the third row and give them plenty of foot room when they sit down.
The windshield in Model X stretches up and over the front seats. Second row passengers get a first row vantage point with an expansive view ahead, atop the Falcon Wing doors, and beside them. The windshield’s solar tint transition completes the modern and open feel.
Tesla says that 17 precisely positioned speakers bring concert hall like sound inside Model X. The 17-inch center touchscreen seamlessly integrates media, navigation, communications, cabin control and vehicle data into one intuitive interface. Many functions are mirrored on the instrument panel and are voice-activated to focus the driver’s attention on the road.
With three rows of seats, a front and rear trunk, and room under the second-row seats, there’s ample room for people, luggage, and big things like surfboards and bikes. For even heavier cargo, Tesla says Model X is the first electric vehicle with a 5,000 lb. tow capacity.
At the heart of Model X is Tesla’s proven electric powertrain, accelerating from 0-60 in a staggering 3.2 seconds (for the “Ludicrous” P90D) and hitting a top speed of 155 mph, all while producing zero emissions.
Model X comes standard with an active spoiler that automatically adjusts to three positions. Under 45 mph, the spoiler is positioned so the driver can see above and below it. At higher speeds the spoiler partially retracts for improved highway efficiency (Tesla says +1.6%), and optimizes the vehicle’s lift distribution. An accessory rack (shown above) is also available for transporting gear like skis.
Tesla says that dual motors digitally and independently control torque to the front and rear wheels to give Model X unparalleled control of traction while increasing performance and efficiency. Model X comes with a 90 kWh battery providing a claimed driving range of 250 miles on a single charge.
For more information on the Model X, visit the Tesla Motors website.
Information including features and specifications is for U.S. models, and is subject to change without notice by the automaker.
News source, photos and video from Tesla Motors
Story ©2015 CarNichiWa.com