Feb 13

My Experience at Tesla’s Model X Reveal

 

Story and photos By Mark Zimmer

Tesla Motors’ Model X SUV/Minivan was unveiled at a lavish “X Premiere” event held into the evening last Thursday at the company’s Los Angeles Design Studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

Tesla’s multipurpose events are reminiscent of a major car show, stage presentation, cocktail party, and rock concert all combined into one.


Reservation holders and owners received this graphic inviting them to the event.

Outside the hangar where the reception was held were enclosed tents displaying technical details allowing guests to ask questions of designers, engineers and showroom personnel. All of this was wrapped in an atmosphere of pure luxury and style.

Invitations to Roadster owners, Tesla reservation holders, and the press brought to over one thousand the number of people who enjoyed viewing and riding Model S and Model X. It was an over-the-top experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.


Tesla Model X with optional all-wheel-drive and standard falcon wing doors. Zero-60 mph estimated at 4.4 seconds.

Upon driving to the Space X building, there had been no clue of any event, nor would anyone have noticed if driving past. It was only apparent when you turned into the small entrance and suddenly a projected “X” was visible on a building in the distance while closely spaced spotlights aimed their beams across the road in a moving striped pattern. The effect drew you closer to the action and once there, valet parking added to Hollywood-level excitement as guests lined up for registration next to the news cameras and the red carpet area.

At 7 p.m. the doors to the huge round roof hangar were opened where a reception area, coat check and a Signature Red Model S gave the appearance of entering a lobby area. A large wide canvas allowed visitors to add their own “signature” and express their thoughts about Model X.

 

The hangar’s curved ceiling was nicely lit along with a large stage on the east side. Two 20-foot-wide round circular cloth curtains were suspended in the room’s center, ready to be dropped for the Model X reveal. The hangar also featured multi-screen video, theater lighting, loud music, plus open bars for wine, cocktails, and beverages. Small buffet tables were filled with unusual foods that looked exotic. Salmon and oysters or sliced beef were the two main courses served with unusually colored pasta. Well dressed servers with small platters of hors d’oeuvres approached the guests enticing them to enjoy the decorative cuisine. Half the fun was figuring out what the strange-shaped item could be! With more difficult items, a second attendant stood by the server with a clean white bowl to elegantly assist disposing of the shrimp holder and tail. In one corner, chefs dressed in lab outfits stirred up frozen desserts served with light cookie pastries. A private VIP balcony upstairs was open to Roadster owners and the press. That area featured a separate bar with leather seating and a perfect view of the stage area. Outside, an additional bar and comfortable white leather couches encouraged guests to relax. The ice sculpture shimmered in the light of the moving Model S and Model X ride vehicles until after midnight.


Stage and Food presentation were first class.

As mentioned, the enclosed technical areas located outside allowed everyone to explore, learn and ask questions of Tesla personnel. All the fabrics and paint colors for Model S and concepts for Model X were on display. Seeing these options now gives the customer more time to select the custom exterior and interior colors. Pictures cannot do justice to the quality of the leather and interior materials. There is no rush to decide, as buyers must choose about three months before production.


Interior and exterior color options.

Tesla also introduced a new showroom display at this event. Large touch screens with interactive graphics instruct the customer what to expect from Model S by changing the input and seeing the result on the screen. For example, screen one shows how far you can travel depending on driving style, speed, temperature, air conditioning and performance option.

Screen two indicates how long it takes to charge depending on the number of miles driven and the type of outlet used. Tesla offers a dual charger option that cuts the speed in half, but only if you are using the 80 amp charge station shown.

The third screen displays the gas savings compared with internal-combustion vehicles. There are two other screens not shown – 1) how to take a road trip and, 2) how electricity is generated. I asked if this interactivity will be available on the Web. The answer: just the showroom for now.

 

After 8 p.m. the presentation was ready to begin. Photos were allowed at all times, however my camera didn’t capture the stage with the desired sharpness. Tesla’s 27-minute video (below) is the next best thing to being there. During the first half they kept the camera on Elon instead of showing the graphics on the screen.

George Blankenship, VP of sales and ownership experience, provided a pleasant introduction for Gov. Jerry Brown. Before George introduced Elon Musk, he shared Elon’s philosophy: “One, everything we do is going to make a difference and two, everything we do we do for you.”

I have included the running time to help you jump to scenes. Some quotes and text are included next to the description if you don’t have time to watch the entire presentation.

2:22 Governor Jerry Brown mentions his love of rocket ships and electric cars. “… It’s about the design …”
4:40 Elon Musk arrives in a Signature Red Model S on stage and chats with the Governor.
5:40 “Why did we create Tesla?” “Sustainable transport…” Electric cars must be better than gas cars.
8:40 Roadster comments. “Some said it was impossible…” “It’s one hell of a golf cart!”
9:35 Elon quotes Bob Lutz. “Look, if a little company in California can do this, then so can General Motors.”
10:00 Other EV vehicles and companies mentioned. “The electric RAV4 that will come out later this year.”
10:50 Model S description. “…We tried to create the best…and most advanced car in the world.”
13:10 Platform of Model S and X. “We created a platform…on which we could build many cars…”
13:40 Problems “Minivans have lots of room but not much style.” SUVs are big outside but small inside.
15:20 Model X appears on stage. Curtains drop in the hangar. “Functionality – Style – Performance.”
16:18 Falcon Wing Doors rise and designers are introduced. “Stand up inside the car.”
20:25 Comparisons with Audi Q7 and luggage removal. “Third seat plus tons of space for baggage.”
22:15 Graphic of dual motor all wheel drive. “It has an incredible turning radius.”
23:50 Comparison with Porsche 911 – “Faster than a Porsche.” “Seating for seven adults.”
25:55 “You are welcome to come up on stage, check the car out and have a great party!”
 

The audience rushed to the stage as you can see at the end of the video. It was amusing to watch crowd’s reaction attempting to sit in one of seven seats with no organization to the process. I was happy to get the photo of the now empty front luggage area. Technical difficulties kept the front hood – the “frunk” – from opening to remove luggage during the presentation. Elon also mentioned that the five rear seats fold flat.

The ability to place refundable deposits for Model X created a line at the technical area. With multiple iMac computers available, the reservation line moved quickly since the only option was to choose the fully featured Signature Model X for late 2013 delivery or the later normal production run in 2014.

 

When the Model X was driven on stage, the two curtains fell to the hangar floor. Behind one was a clay model with an operational CAD system. A static Model X was behind the other curtain. Both of these static displays were viewed for detail during the rock concert that followed the main presentation.


Starting at $57,400 (before tax credit) with an options list that could possibly push versions into six figures. Production is scheduled for late 2013; “significant” deliveries in early 2014.

Before the band arrived, Model X was driven off the stage to give guests their first ride on a short road and slalom course outside. Because Model X’s roof is hinged in the center, passengers can step directly into the car and stand up while entering. The passenger falcon wing doors first move up, then swing up to allow easy access to the second and third rows. Extremely easy to enter and exit, I did not notice anyone hitting their head. Numbered tickets were distributed for both S and X rides so wait time was minimal. I was able to ride twice and sat behind the front seat. The center row of seats are electrically moved to allow easier entry/exit when the rear row is occupied. Glass in Model X’s roof gives a luxurious feeling of space. The Tesla video clearly shows how much luggage can be placed behind the rear seats.


Tesla says Model X is “designed from the ground up with the best of an SUV with the benefits of a minivan, as only an electric car can. It is an automobile above category, built around the driver—and six of her friends. It artfully provides unfettered performance and brilliant functionality.” Likely battery choices are 60 or 85-kwh packs. Since it weighs around 10-percent more than the Model S, range is expected to be slightly less.

This Model X featured optional all wheel drive. Acceleration and turns in the slalom were breathtaking. Cornering is smooth and steady with the weight of the battery providing a low center of gravity and the computer controlled motors providing slight changes to the rotation of the wheels for maximum stability.

Future thoughts: The two cameras at the outside rear view mirror locations may not make it to final production. Model X has less range due to weight and side mirrors add five percent to the wind resistance. You can bet that Tesla will fight for those cameras. The images of the side cameras are displayed on the driver display at each side of the speedometer. Hopefully there will be image processing for bright headlights at night to enhance the quality. If the rear camera image is displayed between the two side views, it might be possible for a panoramic view on the driver display. It’s an exciting innovation that hopefully will make nighttime driving safer and reduce backup accidents. A concern would be sunlight on the driver display and vision correction needed for some drivers to view the center display and road horizon clearly.


Driver’s side display.

The 17-inch vertical touch display at the center dash is well designed, with colorful icons at the top that allow simple switching of screens for each feature. This allows for larger controls that can be easily reached while keeping eyes on the road. The volume control is shown in the lower right corner, and that seems far away if the driver must look at it. However, the driver can use small configurable controls on the steering wheel. Since third parties will be able to write approved applications for the center display, who knows what they may dream up. Is it possible to configure the screen to match a GM, Ford, Toyota or other center control design? No one has announced such an option, but given the limitless possibility of a full color screen, anything is possible. With the ability to post Web pages, hopefully Tesla is planning to have an on-screen tutorial on how to enjoy Model S and X. They might be able to restrict the pages to the exact model or revision and only allow training while parked. By knowing who is sitting at the wheel, Tesla support staff could have a history for each support call or training session. Just a thought of how the future of EV customer support might be reinvented with the Internet and Web page display.


As in the Model S, the center stack features this 17-inch touchscreen.

The desire for optimal range in a battery electric vehicle is fulfilled with Tesla Motors vehicles. The care that Tesla puts into its showrooms and events enhances the image of the car. There are innovations in design and features that will make driving Model S or X a lot of fun. The most important issue is safety, and Elon Musk has stated that he wants a high safety rating. As a passenger, the feel of the car is excellent. One upcoming event for Model S reservation holders is a test drive before finalizing the order. I look forward to that day. Tesla Motors excellence in service will start before delivery day; the buyer chooses the delivery location! For those who want extreme detail about Model X, I suggest a visit to the Tesla Web site or visit one of their well-appointed showrooms. Expect refinements to this early design.

I want to thank Jeff Cobb for the opportunity to post this event report and the quality work he does to inform us of the EV and E-REV industry. After spending all day Saturday on this project, I don’t know how Jeff does it all. It takes time to write and the quality that is published each weekday here at GM-Volt is amazing. For the record, I don’t own Tesla stock.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 13th, 2012 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 82


  1. 1
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (8:45 am)

    Future thoughts: The two cameras at the outside rear view mirror locations may not make it to final production. Model X has less range due to weight and side mirrors add five percent to the wind resistance. You can bet that Tesla will fight for those cameras
    ————-
    The Converj also had these cameras. It will be interesting to see if they are on the Cadillac ELR.


  2. 2
    Gsned57

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (8:58 am)

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I gotta say this is a very unattractive car. I thought the roadster was beautiful but these gull doors in the back just look ridiculous. When I saw the pictures last Friday I actually laughed out loud and thought it was a joke. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of -1′s but hey my opinion.

    I don’t think my Prius is particularly good looking either and as I’ve said before, it’s what’s under the hood that matters to me. If I had the cash and this new tesla were the only EV on the market I’d buy it in a second for the tech and get a free laugh every time I saw my car.


  3. 3
    kdawg

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:02 am)

    Interesting going w/the gull wing doors. What happens if you have bikes hanging above your car? Or a low ceiling? You also lose the ability to put a rack on top to haul stuff. Seems like they should have made this an option.


  4. 4
    kdawg

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    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:07 am)

    I wonder how long before they replace the dash with an Ipad, and you just take it with you when you leave?

    tesladash.jpg


  5. 5
    Raymondjram

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:19 am)

    I believe that having a TV camera instead of mirrors needs some driver training because everyone tends to look at the door mirrors before backing up, changing lanes, or turning. I don’t trust my center rear view mirror by itself, or even with side views added. If the vehicle had OLED screens implanted in both door glass that showed the virtual mirror image, then DOT and state laws could pass the cameras and the OLED screens as substitutes for the mirrors.

    But there is an effect that a TV image cannot provide, which is side perspective. In a real mirror, you can shift your viewing angle and see a bit more toward the sides. A TV camera cannot do this passively. You probably have to remote control the camera to change the side angles. This takes more than a one-second glance that can be done with a real mirror. Maybe some holographic or 3-D effect could be developed in the future and implemented into the OLED screens.

    For now, most of us drivers will prefer real mirrors. I can live with the drag they create because they can prevent accident that could cost me more than all the drag effects and energy losses during the life of the vehicle.

    The main rear view mirror is the only mirror that can safely be replaced by a rear camera, as I have seen this effect already and I can adapt to it.

    Raymond


  6. 6
    JDan

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:23 am)

    The S an X are attractive vehicles. Not too sure about the gull wing doors though. What I would like to see is GM making an equivalent Acadia, Traverse, Enclave type vehicle (Cadillac ERX anyone?) with an updated Voltec drive train. An all wheel drive option would also be awesome. This would be the best of all worlds for me, use electricity as often as you can, use gas when you need to go on vacation, beach, etc. My son goes to Michigan Tech, so it is a 9 hour drive (in state) to visit. An all electric vehicle would only work when they can be charged as quickly and conveniently as filling up a gas tank. For now the voltec drive train is the only option until the infrastructure and technology catch up. GO VOLT!


  7. 7
    Raymondjram

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    Raymondjram
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:24 am)

    kdawg:
    Interesting going w/the gull wing doors.What happens if you have bikes hanging above your car?Or a low ceiling?You also lose the ability to put a rack on top to haul stuff.Seems like they should have made this an option.

    I am assuming that anyone who is shopping for any vehicle has the common sense to know beforehand the physical limitations of their garage or carport. You wouldn’t buy a bus first, then arrive at your home and find out that it doesn’t fit, would you?

    If this Tesla X doesn’t fit, then park it outside, remodel your garage (move the bikes), or just don’t buy it. It will fit most garages, including mine.

    Raymond


  8. 8
    Nelson

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:33 am)

    I have to hand it to Elon Musk. By announcing the Model X before delivery-release of the Model S, he has averted creating an unhappy Model S owner. He has eliminated the potential for comments like “if I knew they were coming out with X, I wouldn’t have bought S”. This reveal has also potentially halted all future sales of competing vehicles (of equal price and value). I love how Elon is not afraid to dilute the sales of the Model S with the Model X reveal. GM should be as daring by announcing future Voltec variants that are as close as 14 months away from production.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671


  9. 9
    ronr64

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:37 am)

    Kdawg – any idea on what it would have cost to make those doors optional? It would have been a huge cost because you would have to have two different roof designs, door hinge/latch designs – both of which would require crash testing etc. It is one or the other. And really, what percent of Vans/SUV’s ever have something put up there? Those who do probably do it a lot but the rest, never.

    Someone else commented on the styling and thought it was laughable. I came away with a different thought. I thought it looked more run of the mill, normal then I expected. With the doors shut it looks like something that could have come from BMW, Buick or Lexus as their new small SUV. Doesn’t have the take your breath away beauty of say the Fisker, but then it is an SUV – how sexy can you really make one? If I was seriously going to pop for an electric vehicle this would be at the top of my list. 2 kids, 2 dogs and Minnesota winters makes an 4wd SUV the go to vehicle.


  10. 10
    BLIND GUY

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:39 am)

    I think most people that can afford this impressive EV will likely put any Luggage, bikes, 50” flat screen and other items either up front, rear storage or inside the main compartment JMO. I don’t think most want the drag of bikes on top. I don’t, mind the Falcon doors; the ease of entry and exit are worth it IMO.


  11. 11
    BLIND GUY

     

    BLIND GUY
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:54 am)

    kdawg,

    1. I wonder how long before they replace the dash with an Ipad, and you just take it with you when you leave?

    I would hate to have my portable dashboard stolen or lost and maybe not be able to drive. It is cool how the Tesla can be a Y-FI hot spot with 4 or 5 USB ports available for passengers.


  12. 12
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:59 am)

    Raymondjram: Maybe some holographic or 3-D effect could be developed in the future and implemented into the OLED screens.

    I think cars may be backing up themselves before this happens.

    Raymondjram: For now, most of us drivers will prefer real mirrors. I can live with the drag they create because they can prevent accident that could cost me more than all the drag effects and energy losses during the life of the vehicle.
    The main rear view mirror is the only mirror that can safely be replaced by a rear camera, as I have seen this effect already and I can adapt to it.

    I don’t like rear-view cameras. The right/left throws me off and its a limted view. I prefer to do a head check. On the side mirrors, I was thinking they could put small cameras on the side of the car and put the screens either in the window, or on the door somewhere. This would give you the aerodynamics, and also not change the function of the original mirrors that much.


  13. 13
    kdawg

    +6

     

    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (10:03 am)

    Raymondjram: I am assuming that anyone who is shopping for any vehicle has the common sense to know beforehand the physical limitations of their garage or carport. You wouldn’t buy a bus first, then arrive at your home and find out that it doesn’t fit, would you?
    If this Tesla X doesn’t fit, then park it outside, remodel your garage (move the bikes), or just don’t buy it. It will fit most garages, including mine.

    Im just bringing it up as another thing to consider. I have parked in parking decks and other places that had low overhead clearance. I would also like to know what happes to all the snow when you open the door? On my trunk, it slides off or up against my rear window. Seems like they could have gone w/a mini-van sliding door instead, or just a traditional door option. Gull-wing seems somewhat gimmicky.


  14. 14
    George S. Bower

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    George S. Bower
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (10:25 am)

    Great writing Mark. I kind of knew this article was coming w/ you as the author so I thought about it during the weekend after looking at the Model X site at Teslamotors.com and I was wondering how you would tackle it??: Just talk the technical details or ???

    Anyway I loved the write up as it gives a great feeling about how it was to be a guest at one of Elon’s special gatherings. I am very jealous. How important it must make one feel to attend.

    I really love Tesla!! I hope they succeed. There are many naysayers here. but I prefer to think otherwise.

    Congrats on the S!!

    What options did you get??

    Boy that dual charger set up sure looks nice!!


  15. 15
    BLIND GUY

    +1

     

    BLIND GUY
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (10:53 am)

    I believe that having a TV camera instead of mirrors needs some driver training because everyone tends to look at the door mirrors before backing up, changing
    lanes, or turning. I don’t trust my center rear view mirror by itself, or even with side views added. If the vehicle had OLED screens implanted in both
    door glass that showed the virtual mirror image, then DOT and state laws could pass the cameras and the OLED screens as substitutes for the mirrors.

    But there is an effect that a TV image cannot provide, which is side perspective. In a real mirror, you can shift your viewing angle and see a bit more
    toward the sides. A TV camera cannot do this passively. You probably have to remote control the camera to change the side angles. This takes more than
    a one-second glance that can be done with a real mirror. Maybe some holographic or 3-D effect could be developed in the future and implemented into the
    OLED screens.

    For now, most of us drivers will prefer real mirrors. I can live with the drag they create because they can prevent accident that could cost me more than
    all the drag effects and energy losses during the life of the vehicle.

    The main rear view mirror is the only mirror that can safely be replaced by a rear camera, as I have seen this effect already and I can adapt to it.

    Raymond

    I believe that cameras and radar will be demonstrated that they can be positioned better than mirrors and monitored more easily by looking in 1 area to view any side or rear angle JMO. Cameras can have wide angle view and be placed just about anywhere to provide full view without straining your neck and possibly giving you that extra split second from having to divert your view in so many different directions. More expensive OLED screens are not necessary to achieve safe resolution and brightness and should be placed to be easily seen by the driver with minimal angle from forward view JMO.
    Do rear view cameras reverse the picture or does anyone know why some people have trouble with the depth and motion of the picture when backing-up?


  16. 16
    nasaman

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:02 am)

    George S. Bower: Great writing Mark…

    I want to add my accolades for this exciting, extremely well-written & comprehensive article, Mark!

    /…and kudos to you Jeff, for approving Mark’s draft and for providing your professional journalist’s “editor-in-chief” skills prior to publication of this timely and exciting topic —an exclusive to gm-volt!


  17. 17
    DonC

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:11 am)

    Tesla has proven it can do hype. No question there. Whether they can do cars is a different question. Anyone who has seen “Revenge of the Electric Car” will know what I mean. There you have Musk with an entire showroom of Roadsters, all with a different major problem, and his response to what is obviously a completely broken quality control system is to tell everyone they can call him at 3 in the morning. Right.

    On the positive side the cars look great and Tesla is showing the advantages of placing great emphasis on design. When you look at Tesla’s proposed lineup and the positioning it looks much like an electric version of Porsche. Hopefully these cars will appeal to those driving a Porsche Cayman or Panamera and Tesla will survive.

    kdawg: The Converj also had these cameras. It will be interesting to see if they are on the Cadillac ELR.

    One problem is that antiquated state laws require mirrors.


  18. 18
    Kent

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:13 am)

    I like both the “S” and “X”. My only concern has always been the cost. At $50K base price after tax credits, I can afford it, but I’m just not ready to spend that much on a car (I’d rather watch my retirement fund grow). As of now, my Volt has been the most expensive car I’ve owned and it works just fine!


  19. 19
    BeechBoy

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    BeechBoy
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:22 am)

    The model X is absolutely gorgeous and I hope it will succeed. Tesla has proven they can design great cars. But they also have to deliver the goods and the quality must be there.


  20. 20
    Mark Z

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    Mark Z
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:22 am)

    George S. Bower:
    Great writing Mark. I kind of knew this article was coming w/ you as the author so I thought about it during the weekend after looking at the Model X site at Teslamotors.com and I was wondering how you would tackle it? Just talk the technical details or ???…

    Thanks for the complement. I wanted to write an article that made the reader feel as if they were there. It is an honor to attend events like this because Tesla Motors treats us like family. The factory tour last October gave us the confidence that our Model S vehicles will be built with quality and as on-time as possible.

    Since many news stories and Tesla’s web site have extensive details about the vehicle, I didn’t feel the need to repeat a lot of facts that might change over time. Jeff added the bold captions under the photos, so I want to give him credit for adding more technical data. Some minor editing changes occurred after posting, and again Jeff came to the rescue.

    What happens at the event is worthy of reporting because of the way the customer is treated. What is the cost of inviting your buyers to the press event? Probably a lot less than one commercial on prime time TV since it is held at Tesla’s own facility.

    To answer your question about options. At the factory event it was announced that Signature Red required a Signature order, so a larger deposit was required. Signature Model S is now sold out, but I made it in time. A flashier, brighter red will be available for the regular production run later. Options are chosen three months before manufacture, so I have not made any choices.

    I agree the dual charger is a nice option. Twin chargers in the vehicle is a $1500 option (standard on Signature). Add $1200 for the wall charge station. The difference is 31 miles per hour charge standard and 62 miles per hour charge with the twin chargers and wall charge station. If you are only charging overnight in the garage, customers will not need twin chargers.

    Wouldn’t Volt owners like to charge up in 40 minutes? At 62 miles per hour charge, it would be possible.


  21. 21
    Dave K.

     

    Dave K.
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:28 am)

    There are millions of professional people making $100k salaries who demand their daily driver be an SUV. I am betting on Korea being first out with one. With a lower sticker price. You’ll see.

    No Plug, No Sale!


  22. 22
    theflew

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    theflew
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:29 am)

    BLIND GUY:
    I think most people that can afford this impressive EV will likely put any Luggage, bikes, 50” flat screen and other items either up front, rear storage or inside the main compartment JMO.I don’t think most want the drag of bikes on top.I don’t, mind the Falcon doors; the ease of entry and exit are worth it IMO.

    The problem is if you have more than 4 people going biking you can’t store your bikes inside. So they have to be on top or hitch mounted. As far as the falcon doors they appear to be a solution looking for a problem. So now a simple door needs hydraulics and sensors.


  23. 23
    Schmeltz

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:29 am)

    To Mark: Thanks for your article and well written in my opinion. It took all of us along at least vicariously to what appears to have been a really fun and once in a lifetime kind of experience.

    As others have said, looks are subjective. But I really, really like the look of the Teslas. I think they are some of the best looking cars of any powertrain stripe going. Gorgeous!

    Regarding the Falcon doors, I think they add to the coolness factor, no question. And the i-Pad dash screen, uber cool.

    Parting thought: I really hope this company survives.


  24. 24
    George S. Bower

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    George S. Bower
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:35 am)

    DonC:
    Tesla has proven it can do hype. No question there. Whether they can do cars is a different question. Anyone who has seen “Revenge of the Electric Car” will know what I mean. There you have Musk with an entire showroom of Roadsters, all with a different major problem, and his response to what is obviously a completely broken quality control system is to tell everyone they can call him at 3 in the morning. Right.

    On the positive side the cars look great and Tesla is showing the advantages of placing great emphasis on design. When you look at Tesla’s proposed lineup and the positioning it looks much like an electric version of Porsche. Hopefully these cars will appeal to those driving a Porsche Cayman or Panamera and Tesla will survive.

    One problem is that antiquated state laws require mirrors.

    Come on DonC!! Must you still be a naysayer?? Tesla is a great car and leads in their technology. They are the most state of the art in the industry.


  25. 25
    Noel Park

     

    Noel Park
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:40 am)

    Wretched excess IMHO. I agree with DonC at #17. Nice hype, show me the sales and the production cars on the road.


  26. 26
    Jackson

     

    Jackson
     Says

     

    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:44 am)

    I think that a rear-view camera shows you what mirrors can’t, and is especially useful for larger vehicles. I believe they should be mandated for safety on vans and SUVs, eventually.

    Side mirrors? I don’t know. The side-to-side effect for determining range has never been comfortable for me. If I don’t have the rear of my own car in the reflection for reference, I have no feel for where or how close an adjacent, trailing vehicle is. I find that this can limit the area the reflection covers, however. Even so, a central display for side mirrors would be awkward and unintuitive. If you display all 3 mirrors, all will be too small, IMO. If you show only one at a time, you have to switch cameras somehow. Three separate screens might be pricey (and use up a lot of dashboard real estate).

    Whichever we consider, I have a suggestion. There is research into / existing systems for determining which way a person’s head is pointing, in order to derive a control input. Couldn’t the camera pan left or right based on the driver’s head movements? It would have to work without wearing some kind of sensor, but wouldn’t need the gun-aiming precision of military head-tracking systems just to distinguish between 2 – 4 positions. (The cameras could have extra-wide sensors and pan electronically, to maintain mechanical simplicity, practical cost, and for physical durability).

    A left-side mirror ought to have a driver’s door or left-dash-mounted display (closer to the driver means a smaller screen can be used). The head-swivel detector could put the right-side display onto the big center screen when you turn your head a bit farther to the right (it’s not a great difference in line-of-sight, and more intuitive than having multiple images on a screen. Also, you wouldn’t have to lean forward to see around a fat passenger ;-) ).

    If the car features some kind of proximity detector, cues could be put right over a screen image to give an instant, intuitive cue for other vehicles’ position.

    Just a thought.


  27. 27
    Mark Z

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:44 am)

    Thanks nasaman and Schmeltz for the comments.

    Just wanted to mention that I took 175 photos and decided that to show 28 of them would require multiple images on one .jpg file to keep the page load time low. Software to do the job quickly for the Mac needed the latest OS version, and I didn’t have that on the computer. iPad to the rescue, and a 99 cent app by the same company. It took a bit of wizardry to override the software that all the frames would be square. To solve the six image .jpg required creating 2 multiple images that were dropped into a 5 image frame. To avoid the square look, I used a 5 frame panel and kept the bottom third single frame blank. By opening the image on the Mac and cropping the bottom third off, the result was the 4 image panel in a rectangle. All of this was decided late Saturday night and within a few hours the photos were processed. I was very thankful for the PicFrame iPad app.


  28. 28
    BLIND GUY

     

    BLIND GUY
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:58 am)

    theflew,

    Sigh; you know, you can’t please everyone. Maybe you could get a custom rear-mounted bike rack; which would be more accessible as well or buy a small bike trailer.


  29. 29
    Jackson

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    Jackson
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (12:12 pm)

    I spoke to the largest hitch-installer in my area about carrying bikes on my Fit (I’ve done the top-of-the-car thing. Never again). Also, the Fit’s owner’s manual states that installing a hitch will void the car’s warranty.

    I was told that (I believe) a Type II hitch (3/4″ receiver) won’t void the warranty, and that this is how they do it for Prius-owners (he joked that they ought to come with the hitches installed since so many Prius drivers own bicycles). Yakima and other manufacturers offer a large range of bicycle carriers designed to fit in this kind of hitch-receiver.


  30. 30
    Shock Me

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (12:18 pm)

    Good Luck, Tesla! I like the sedan better but a cross-over is a crucial part of the lineup for the folks that can afford this kind of ride.

    I would prefer sliding doors and flip fold and stow seats like the old Town and Countries. But keep it up fellas. Good report MarkZ!


  31. 31
    Dmitrii

     

    Dmitrii
     Says

     

    Feb 13th, 2012 (12:20 pm)

    It was a great show!

    My friend has made a pre-order) (he never heard about Tesla or electric cars before that)
    Though he metioned that he may cancel it later if he won’t like the test-drive.


  32. 32
    kdawg

     

    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (12:30 pm)

    Dave K.: There are millions of professional people making $100k salaries who demand their daily driver be an SUV. I am betting on Korea being first out with one. With a lower sticker price. You’ll see.

    Or more aftermarket companies. You can get a new Chevy Equinox for $23K and get it turned into an EV by AMP. Here’s a video from 2010.

    http://youtu.be/aYzJKnLk8Zk

    They are doing all kinds of SUV conversions.
    ——

    AMP SUV vs. Tesla Model X

    February 11

    Another AMP model, the Mercedes ML, will beat Tesla to market as “the first modern all-wheel-drive electric vehicle,” according to Consumer Reports. The price tag for the Mercedes is about $77,400, compared with $57,400 for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Consumer Reports says.
    The Tesla Model X will have a similar range as the SUVs from AMP.

    http://ampelectricvehicles.com/circuit/amp-suv-vs-tesla-model-x


  33. 33
    Dave K.

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:04 pm)

    kdawg,

    I’m thinking more along the line of a major manufacturer selling over 100,000 ESUV per year. Yes worldwide, everywhere a person has the money to buy one. If Hyundai can get one out at the magic $40k number. It will be very difficult for other manufactures to catch them. They are making a strategic mistake if they don’t go for it this year. By getting theirs out first. Other manufacturers who have spent up to $1 billion in development will be left holding the bag. I am not completely sold on the LEAF. Nissan will need better engineering to win me over. Ford will most likely over price.


  34. 34
    James

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:21 pm)

    Great article!

    >Raymond: +1 on the OLED screen in the front edge of the driver’s/passenger’s side door glass. Brilliant!

    >Raymond: -1 on the inabilitiy to implement due to adjustability and views. Current systems are awkward and not sorted. My 1995 truck and 2007 car have electronically adjustable mirrors which can be adjusted quickly. I don’t see how a tiny cam would be any harder to microadjust electronically than a large mirror unit.

    I’d say the biggest percieved flaw may be clearing the cam of raindrops and dirt ( I’m going to try RainEx on my backup cam ) and reliabilty of sealed components to outside weather and inside heat and humidity.

    Aerodynamically, the Volt/Prius/Insight hatch design dynamic is best.Hatchback rearward vision becomes a problem with a split rear view between a slit rear window and small opera window under spoiler-hatch support. A rear camera with large screen is essential. Today’s mix of checking backup cam and twisting back to see side-rear, then glancing at the rear mirror is very taxing and awkward. My neck votes for rear panorama and tiny wide-angle side door cams which are electrically or manually adjustable just as today’s electronic mirrors are.

    Last summer I got my first ding in the Prius in a mall parking lot with an overeager and careless lady backing up quickly behind me while I was backing in a tight space. No amount of cam and current mirror was sufficient.

    The Price of OLEDs needs to come down but placed inside near the front edge of the side glass where we are currently seeing the mirror is perfect. My design would either be a triangle shape angled at a 40-ish degree angle hardmounted inside the side door, or a similiarly angled unit attached to the dash where current side HVAC vents exist. This would require less head/eye movement than current mirrors. As Jackson says, the wide angle ability of current cams would be superior than a mirror plus the added aero mileage advantage.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  35. 35
    Loboc

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:33 pm)

    Jackson: I think that a rear-view camera shows you what mirrors can’t, and is especially useful for larger vehicles.I believe they should be mandated for safety on vans and SUVs, eventually.

    Side mirrors?I don’t know.The side-to-side effect for determining range has never been comfortable for me.If I don’t have the rear of my own car in the reflection for reference, I have no feel for where or how close an adjacent, trailing vehicle is.I find that this can limit the area the reflection covers, however.Even so, a central display for side mirrors would be awkward and unintuitive.If you display all 3 mirrors, all will be too small, IMO.If you show only one at a time, you have to switch cameras somehow.Three separate screens might be pricey (and use up a lot of dashboard real estate).

    Whichever we consider, I have a suggestion.There is research into / existing systems for determining which way a person’s head is pointing, in order to derive a control input.Couldn’t the camera pan left or right based on the driver’s head movements?It would have to work without wearing some kind of sensor, but wouldn’t need the gun-aiming precision of military head-tracking systems just to distinguish between 2 – 4 positions.(The cameras could have extra-wide sensors and pan electronically, to maintain mechanical simplicity, practical cost, and for physical durability).

    A left-side mirror ought to have a driver’s door or left-dash-mounted display (closer to the driver means a smaller screen can be used).The head-swivel detector could put the right-side display onto the big center screen when you turn your head a bit farther to the right (it’s not a great difference in line-of-sight, and more intuitive than having multiple images on a screen.Also, you wouldn’t have to lean forward to see around a fat passenger ).

    If the car features some kind of proximity detector, cues could be put right over a screen image to give an instant, intuitive cue for other vehicles’ position.

    Just a thought.

    I’m thinking you could take all the camera angles and do a single display with a panoramic view located as the current inside rear-view mirror. The electronics could adjust it so that it’s not weird looking. Kind of like you’re in a convertible (Or a clear car like Wonder Woman’s plane :) ).

    You could also do super-imposed markers showing the relative closeness of an object and the projected path calculated from the real-time steering position like current back-up cameras, but better.

    Another advantage to virtual mirrors is that you could do real-time video capture. Nice for follow-up on accidents. (Or, not so nice if you’re the perp.)

    Since it’s a camera, there are no human-eye limitations. At night, use night vision.

    The no-mirror display would need to be as bright and as clear as a normal mirror. So, we’re not talking a cheap display.

    Invisible_Plane.jpg


  36. 36
    V=IR

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:43 pm)

    Jackson: I spoke to the largest hitch-installer in my area about carrying bikes on my Fit (I’ve done the top-of-the-car thing. Never again).

    Sadly, I know of what you speak. A rack of bikes on the roof makes about as much sense as a couple of extra seats on the roof.
    I encourage anyone thinking of using their roof to look at the other options. It’s like the Cornballer; not a question of will you get burned, but when.


  37. 37
    James

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    James
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:54 pm)

    Loboc: I’m thinking you could take all the camera angles and do a single display with a panoramic view located as the current inside rear-view mirror. The electronics could adjust it so that it’s not weird looking. Kind of like you’re in a convertible (Or a clear car like Wonder Woman’s plane ).

    You could also do super-imposed markers showing the relative closeness of an object and the projected path calculated from the real-time steering position like current back-up cameras, but better.

    Another advantage to virtual mirrors is that you could do real-time video capture. Nice for follow-up on accidents. (Or, not so nice if you’re the perp.)

    Since it’s a camera, there are no human-eye limitations. At night, use night vision.

    The no-mirror display would need to be as bright and as clear as a normal mirror. So, we’re not talking a cheap display.

    Your solution sounds great for a show concept, but extremely expensive for a manistream auto.
    I agree with Jackson that a large central display with seperate side sections for side view is not intuitive the way our minds work. The dash pod view of the concept Model X is interesting, but takes up real estate usually needed for informative displays re: vehicle speed and mechanical functions. I believe the side display on left and right is necessary as when you walk you look to the right or left to percieve where you want to travel next. A head-up or retinal tracker, as noted, would be expensive – something perhaps Mercedes would brew up for buyers of cars costing over $120,000.

    Two things I didn’t mention are rear-side radar which is coming in the 2013-2014 timeframe – and Infinity’s side view cams which try to implement a type of panoramic rear view, but IMO fall short and are hard to see and quicky decipher.

    One thing we all can agree on is that improved easy visual real-time awareness of vehicle surroundings is essential to true motor vehicle and pedestrian safety.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  38. 38
    CorvetteGuy

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (1:54 pm)

    Great article and photos! Now I’m in the mood to buy a Lotto ticket. :)


  39. 39
    Jackson

     

    Jackson
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:07 pm)

    Loboc: I’m thinking you could take all the camera angles and do a single display with a panoramic view located as the current inside rear-view mirror.

    Thank you for your feedback to my suggestion.

    The panoramic display is a good idea provided a screen with a very wide aspect ratio can be used (nothing like this is on the market that I know of, but could likely be developed without breaking much new ground).

    James: A head-up or retinal tracker, as noted, would be expensive

    Perhaps not a low-res model; but Loboc’s panoramic display could make this unnecessary.

    James: something perhaps Mercedes would brew up for buyers of cars costing over $120,000.

    … or for a Cadillac ELR? (To eventually ‘filter down’ to lower-price models)? … hint hint, GM …

    Loboc: The no-mirror display would need to be as bright and as clear as a normal mirror. So, we’re not talking a cheap display.

    No, indeed. Keep in mind though that the display will be viewed from a relatively narrow angle, and could be strongly polarized to reject reflections originating from other directions. This could help as much as display brightness.

    … did Wonder Woman ever fly that plane while “going commando?” I’ve always wondered. :-P


  40. 40
    BLIND GUY

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:10 pm)

    James,

    Old habits can take some time to change. For example: people with low-vision sometimes use a CCTV type device to write with. You look at the screen; wherever you place it while you write under a mounted camera. Most people tend to still want to look at what they are writing on instead of looking at an enlarged version on the screen. Both methods require the exact same hand motion; you’re just looking at a screen instead. Anyway, my point is why not 3 optimally sized screens just below the windshield. The screens could be shaded for best image and you can glance at 1 area to see what is in all your blind-spots JMO.
    P.S. Your mph digits can also be placed on the bottom of the screen when in drive mode.


  41. 41
    James

     

    James
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:11 pm)

    The Falcon Wing doors are very cool. I’d want driver and passenger doors to swing up as well.

    How do these perform in rain? I live in Seattle so rain is part of our daily lives. When water or snow runs off the top of the swinging portion, what kind of gutter system is in place to catch the runoff? I’d think this is all well engineered and tested. With the large openings up top your passengers are still going to get wet if there is a wind and the rain is approaching at an angle. I don’t mind bending a bit to get into a vehicle, rather than standing and sitting straight down, if it means my butt or the seat is not going to be wet. On the plus side, umbrella folding and shaking would be enhanced as you have that small overhang to keep you from that awkward croutch+umbrella fold/shake+ingress-to-seat motion performed during a downpour before you can close your door ( as you and the inside door electronics get doused ).

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  42. 42
    Noel Park

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:19 pm)

    Loboc: (Or a clear car like Wonder Woman’s plane :) ).

    #35

    +1 for the photo!


  43. 43
    Noel Park

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:22 pm)

    V=IR: Sadly, I know of what you speak. A rack of bikes on the roof makes about as much sense as a couple of extra seats on the roof.

    #36

    True that. +1

    My son had a ski rack on the roof of his Insight which he left on all winter with about a 50 mile round trip commute on I-5 every day. I kept ragging on him about it until he took it off. He said the difference was 2 mpg!


  44. 44
    kdawg

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    kdawg
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:22 pm)

    Jackson: did Wonder Woman ever fly that plane while “going commando?” I’ve always wondered.

    For a laugh…
    (wonder woman flying invisible plane… sort of)
    http://youtu.be/cglKuOsSklk


  45. 45
    James

     

    James
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:23 pm)

    I can see from the Tesla wordage, this model is targeted more at women than men. This is smart since women buy more cars ( and crossovers ) each year than men do. If I was in the market for a crossover, I would prioritize the cost and the electric drive over fancy doors. This is a bit of a gimmick and drives price over the comfort zone of many. AWD definativey has it’s merits.

    Overall I have mixed emotions re: Model X.

    Men – take the Model S, better aero, lower center of gravity and sexier looks. Better yet – Tesla, move up the reality of an affordable Tesla.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  46. 46
    kdawg

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:29 pm)

    James: The Falcon Wing doors are very cool. I’d want driver and passenger doors to swing up as well.
    How do these perform in rain? I live in Seattle so rain is part of our daily lives. When water or snow runs off the top of the swinging portion, what kind of gutter system is in place to catch the runoff? I’d think this is all well engineered and tested. With the large openings up top your passengers are still going to get wet if there is a wind and the rain is approaching at an angle. I don’t mind bending a bit to get into a vehicle, rather than standing and sitting straight down, if it means my butt or the seat is not going to be wet. On the plus side, umbrella folding and shaking would be enhanced as you have that small overhang to keep you from that awkward croutch+umbrella fold/shake+ingress-to-seat motion performed during a downpour before you can close your door ( as you and the inside door electronics get doused ).
    I can see from the Tesla wordage, this model is targeted more at women than men. This is smart since women buy more cars ( and crossovers ) each year than men do. If I was in the market for a crossover, I would prioritize the cost and the electric drive over fancy doors. This is a bit of a gimmick and drives price over the comfort zone of many. AWD definativey has it’s merits. Overall I have mixed emotions re: Model X.
    Men – take the Model S, better aero, lower center of gravity and sexier looks. Better yet – Tesla, move up the reality of an affordable Tesla.

    Your post is similar to mine at #13. Another problem w/making the driver’s door a gull wing would be to crack it open to get in and out. Sometimes people park very close, and you have to be able to slightly open your door. I don’t see this as a possibility with gull wings.

    Another gimmick/option is the disappearing door. I think most of us have seen this before.

    http://youtu.be/AAtkoje4-eM
    http://www.disappearing-car-door.com/


  47. 47
    James

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:31 pm)

    Sorry, I can’t stop writing re: the subject of Tesla – to me, the most fascinating story in the entire auto industry.

    Will Tesla become ever-associated with the high-smoot brands and continue as the marque for doctors, lawyers, execs and celebs? Will Toyota, with it’s Tesla investment and access, be the biggest benefactor and become the provider of Tesla-inspired and engineered mainstream cars?

    Where does the RAV 4 EV II come into play in all this? Will the first $28-32,000 Tesla EV be a Toyota?

    Will GM rue the day they didn’t partner with Tesla instead of one of it’s largest competitors?

    Will it all crash and burn?

    Time will tell. Time will tell…

    INNOVATE or DIE ,

    James

    Remember, the California NUMMI plant was co-operated by GM and Toyota.


  48. 48
    Jackson

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:37 pm)

    kdawg: Another gimmick/option is the disappearing door. I think most of us have seen this before.

    Now that’s cool. Much more practical than a gull wing (as in the rain, for example).


  49. 49
    James

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:43 pm)

    kdawg: Your post is similar to mine at #13.Another problem w/making the driver’s door a gull wing would be to crack it open to get in and out.Sometimes people park very close, and you have to be able to slightly open your door.I don’t see this as a possibility with gull wings.

    Another gimmick/option is the disappearing door.I think most of us have seen this before.

    http://youtu.be/AAtkoje4-eM
    http://www.disappearing-car-door.com/

    I love those YouTube videos of the Lincolns and Tauruses with the disappearing door mechanisms. Problem is, they’re so heavy and pricey as to make the car seriously impractical, and in a slight to medium side impact, I believe the entire door mechanism would be inoperable. Just like with mirrors, the best engineering solution is K.I.S.S. as much as possible.

    Tesla says it’s doors cantilever so unlike a gullwing where the door swings up widely, they fold then slide up verticle thus taking up less space to the side than a conventional door. Your point is good though, just how high could you swing it so you don’t have to become a contortionist to access the vehicle?

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  50. 50
    James

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:51 pm)

    My dad is a hearty 83 year old. When my brother brought over the new Honda Odyssey minivan with it’s schnazzy electric sliding side doors they left dad in the garage with the van too long. Dad was so puzzled why those darn doors wouldn’t close, he didn’t stop to think they slid electronically needing the key. He wrenched them so hard trying to close ‘em he slid the door off it’s runners and they wouldn’t shut! LOL. After he’d broken it, they had to force it shut for the long journey home. The dealer did a multi-thousand dollar repair which luckily was covered by the warranty! Lucky dad didn’t have a stroke!

    Maybe simpler is better and the money better spent on building an affordable EV and/or one with longer range.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


  51. 51
    Jackson

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (2:53 pm)

    James: I love those YouTube videos of the Lincolns and Tauruses with the disappearing door mechanisms. Problem is, they’re so heavy and pricey as to make the car seriously impractical, and in a slight to medium side impact, I believe the entire door mechanism would be inoperable. Just like with mirrors, the best engineering solution is K.I.S.S. as much as possible.

    Tesla says it’s doors cantilever so unlike a gullwing where the door swings up widely, they fold then slide up verticle thus taking up less space to the side than a conventional door. Your point is good though, just how high could you swing it so you don’t have to become a contortionist to access the vehicle?

    RECHARGE! ,

    James

    I’ve suggested this here before as a means of lowering EV weight (to counteract the weight of the batteries): What if auto manufacturers decided to ‘get their feet wet’ in the emerging Carbon Fiber technology by making only the doors, at first? This could be much less daunting (and expensive) than working out the structure of an entire car in the material. I was thinking conventional doors when I mentioned this, but observed that lightweight/strong doors and strong electrical power might make all kinds of things possible that we don’t see today.

    As for safety and expense, perhaps the roll-down door might be offered at first on only the driver’s side (with more conventional doors on the right). Of course, I’ve seen car wrecks with conventional doors where the ‘Jaws of Life’ were needed …


  52. 52
    kdawg

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:03 pm)

    James: Tesla says it’s doors cantilever so unlike a gullwing where the door swings up widely, they fold then slide up verticle thus taking up less space to the side than a conventional door. Your point is good though, just how high could you swing it so you don’t have to become a contortionist to access the vehicle?

    I don’t know if you’ve already done this, but you can play w/the doors on Tesla’s website.
    http://www.teslamotors.com/modelx (about 1/3 down on the page).

    I think even w/the least amount of opening for me to squeeze out, the door would hit a close parked car. It’s not as big of deal for the passengers, because you can back out, then let them in. But the driver’s door has to stay conventional, or go straight up. There’s also kits to modify your doors to pop out then swing up (aka Lambo door kits)
    http://www.verticalrides.com/
    Chevy%20Camaro%202010%201.jpg


  53. 53
    Jackson

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:06 pm)

    James: Will Tesla become ever-associated with the high-smoot brands and continue as the marque for doctors, lawyers, execs and celebs? Will Toyota, with it’s Tesla investment and access, be the biggest benefactor and become the provider of Tesla-inspired and engineered mainstream cars?

    Will GM rue the day they didn’t partner with Tesla instead of one of it’s largest competitors?

    Schmeltz: I really hope this company survives.

    I believe that the only way Tesla will become a major player is with Toyota’s help. In fact, I think there are better than even odds that Toyota will absorb the company altogether (but graciously allow them to keep the first and last letters of their name ;-) ). For this reason, I have mixed feelings about anything they roll out. However, at this moment, it looks like Tesla is a lot farther down the road than, say, Fiskar.


  54. 54
    nasaman

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:09 pm)

    Let me take a stab at the rearview/sideview/blindspot matter using tiny rear-facing cameras rather than conventional rearview mirrors:

    o First, use tiny fender-mounted cameras (the Japanese have long minimized the blindspot problem in Japan this way) as shown in the 1st photo below

    o Second, extend the inside rearview mirror (from a Toyota RAV-4 sport model) shown in the 2nd photo below by about 2″ on each side & equip it instead with a bright HD LCD screen

    o Third, mount tiny rear-facing cameras (like the Caddy ELR’s) on the front fenders & protect their lenses with Corning’s easily-cleaned “Gorilla Glass”

    o Finally, design the system to merge all 3 camera’s views into a single wide-angle panoramic display on the center rearview screen

    This SHOULD show everything both behind & beside the car as well as eliminate blind spots —in a display drivers are accustomed to using

    800px-Outer_rear-view_mirror_001.JPG

    2012-Toyota-RAV4-Sport-rear-view-mirror-with-back-up-camera.jpg


  55. 55
    James

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:11 pm)

    Jackson: I’ve suggested this here before as a means of lowering vehicle weight: What if auto manufacturers decided to ‘get their feet wet’ in the emerging Carbon Fiber technology by making only the doors, at first?This could be much less daunting (and expensive) than working out the structure of an entire car.I was thinking conventional doors when I mentioned this, but observed that lightweight strong doors + strong electrical power might make all kinds of things possible that we don’t see today.

    As for safety and expense, perhaps the roll-down door might be offered at first on only the driver’s side (with more conventional doors on the right)?Of course, I’ve seen car wrecks with conventional doors where the ‘Jaws of Life’ were needed.

    Carbon fiber is labor-intensive and cost prohibitive to the max. Think of the new Boeing 787 and the humongous enclaves they had to build to “cook” the gigantic carbon composite airframe panels and sections. You’d think those efforts may lead to more cost-effective ways to implement it in mass produced consumer items. Apparently it hasn’t. There is so much work going on to find a ureka material to replace heavy high tension steel but so far there is no answer. Even carmakers like BMW who sell to a more affluent clientele use aluminum hoods, trunklids and qtr. panels instead of carbon fiber due to cost. Carbon only seems to make it into the most expensive rides and race machines.

    Isn’t there some form of plastic composite that can be laminated for car doors and panels? Even carbon fiber needs some reinforcement such as safety impact bars, but nothing like the former attempts by the auto industry. Remember plastic-fantasic efforts like GM’s Fiero and Saturn vehicles? They needed metal reinforcement frames. Sheesh! The end result was heavier than just sheet steel! I owned an early Honda Prelude once. The steel doors were so thin you could poke a dent into them with one pinky finger!

    Interesting reading is the multi-efforts GM made to lighten the Cruze Eco over the standard Cruze. One thing is for certain: If you can figure out how to lighten a motor vehicle you have a job! If you invent a lightweight material like honeycomb aluminum that can stand up to auto rigors your future is set. With current and future C.A.F.E. standards looming, the search is on for lightness and strength.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


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    Mark Z

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:13 pm)

    Love the comments on the cameras and doors. James is right, rain on an angle would enter the top, but the protection the door makes while up would help.

    Since there is only one row in the front, standard doors work fine. Tesla is pushing the point that the effort putting children and child seats in the back two rows is made much easier with the Falcon Wing Doors. They claim that they won’t hit another normally parked vehicle, however a close wall could be a challenge.

    Many EV models, companies and the RAV4 were mentioned in the video. I also noted the RAV4 quote in the time list summary. Jump to that section of the video for more details.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:24 pm)

    James: Carbon fiber is labor-intensive and cost prohibitive to the max. Think of the new Boeing 787 and the humongous enclaves they had to build to “cook” the gigantic carbon composite airframe panels and sections. You’d think those efforts may lead to more cost-effective ways to implement it in mass produced consumer items. Apparently it hasn’t. There is so much work going on to find a ureka material to replace heavy high tension steel but so far there is no answer. Even carmakers like BMW who sell to a more affluent clientele use aluminum hoods, trunklids and qtr. panels instead of carbon fiber due to cost. Carbon only seems to make it into the most expensive rides and race machines.

    This will not continue to be true indefinitely. My only point is that the doors might make a good first step for a new material, vs doing an entire car (it might also make something exotic, or even unknown, practical.)


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    evnow

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:27 pm)

    Starting at $57,400 (before tax credit) with an options list that could possibly push versions into six figures. Production is scheduled for late 2013; “significant” deliveries in early 2014.

    A lot of people in the media are making this mistake.

    X will only have 60 kWh and 85 kWh versions. No 40 kWh version.

    That means base price of X will be about $67,400.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:30 pm)

    James: Carbon fiber is labor-intensive and cost prohibitive to the max. Think of the new Boeing 787 and the humongous enclaves they had to build to “cook” the gigantic carbon composite airframe panels and sections. You’d think those efforts may lead to more cost-effective ways to implement it in mass produced consumer items. Apparently it hasn’t. There is so much work going on to find a ureka material to replace heavy high tension steel but so far there is no answer. Even carmakers like BMW who sell to a more affluent clientele use aluminum hoods, trunklids and qtr. panels instead of carbon fiber due to cost. Carbon only seems to make it into the most expensive rides and race machines.
    Isn’t there some form of plastic composite that can be laminated for car doors and panels? Even carbon fiber needs some reinforcement such as safety impact bars, but nothing like the former attempts by the auto industry. Remember plastic-fantasic efforts like GM’s Fiero and Saturn vehicles? They needed metal reinforment frames. Sheesh! The end result was heavier than just sheet steel! I owned an early Honda Prelude once. The steel doors were so thin you could poke a dent into them with one pinky finger!
    Interesting reading is the multi-efforts GM made to lighten the Cruze Eco over the standard Cruze. One thing is for certain: If you can figure out how to lighten a motor vehicle you have a job! If you invent a lightweight material like honeycomb aluminum that can stand up to auto rigors your future is set. With current and future C.A.F.E. standards looming, the search is on for lightness and strength.
    RECHARGE! ,
    James

    BMW is/will be using carbon fiber in its cars

    http://www.sportscarillustrated.com/News_2012/B/news12_0115.html
    The new BMW M6 Coupe and Convertible

    BMW has released more information on the new edition of the M6 Coupe and Convertible.

    From the curb the M6 has an imposing body design with elegant lines and hallmark M athleticism hinting at the car’s high-performance properties. The Coupe has contoured roof made from carbon


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:36 pm)

    James: If you invent a lightweight material like honeycomb aluminum that can stand up to auto rigors your future is set.

    Inventor Realizes Dream to Create Stronger Metal Foam
    http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/metalfoam.jsp
    (really good video)


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:41 pm)

    An addendum to lightness and strength. I look at the high end bicycle industry as one example I know of. In the ’70s it was all about chrome-moly steel. It was light, and tubes of it could be butted on the ends to varing thicknesses allowing a strong tubular structure with just the right combination of flex, lightness and strength. In the ’80s and early nineties came aluminum. In large quantities it became the material of choice. Lighter than steel and needing no expensive thin-wall technique. It’s stiff qualities were buffered with fr and r suspension systems. Today aluminum is still the most common bicycle frame material. Soon people wanted lighter-stronger and titanium frames came about along with equally expensive carbon fiber. Today, most of the Tour de France spendy road and time trial bikes are made of carbon with aluminum and titanium drive components.

    The other day I viewed a Tech Toys spot on TV where an Oregon bike manufacturer is building custom bicycles using WOOD laminates! He contends wood has strength and lightness qualities superior to carbon and titanium! Go figure! They’re beautiful and seem to have many advantages including scratch and damage repair – just a new laquer coating!

    I don’t think we’ll ever be seeing wood car bodies again, but is there a wood-fiber laminate, poly substrate composite high tech answer to the light car dilemma? How about some new form of aluminum casting? Tubular frames make up racecars, how about light tubular subsystems for car structures. Anybody?

    Now-defunct Aptera used a sturdy patented plastic composite over a tubular racecar-esque frame. A couple years back one could find photos on the net of boastful Aptera developers standing on Aptera composite body parts showing their strength. Today, YouTubers can find disgruntled unemployed Aptera workers destroying Aptera bodies with heavy equipment!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGGhH1LlUUE

    RECHARGE! ,

    James


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (3:45 pm)

    Dave K.: I’m thinking more along the line of a major manufacturer selling over 100,000 ESUV per year. Yes worldwide, everywhere a person has the money to buy one. If Hyundai can get one out at the magic $40k number. It will be very difficult for other manufactures to catch them. They are making a strategic mistake if they don’t go for it this year. By getting theirs out first. Other manufacturers who have spent up to $1 billion in development will be left holding the bag. I am not completely sold on the LEAF. Nissan will need better engineering to win me over. Ford will most likely over price.

    Maybe Jeff can do a follow up on his article from November on the GM/Magna Equinox testing in Canada. Im sure we’d get the same response from GM… “stay tuned”.

    http://gm-volt.com/2011/11/23/gm-and-magna-e-systems-evaluate-electric-crossovers-in-canada/


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:21 pm)

    James: Will it all crash and burn?

    #47

    That would be my guess, LOL.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:23 pm)

    OT—

    I know more details will appear here tomorrow, but word is that Obama wants to INCREASE incentives for VOLT and other electric cars to $10,000 a pop!

    If you live in my town this is what you would get:

    $39,995.00 MSRP
    -$10,000.00 ObamaCash
    -$ 1,500.00 JerryBrownGovCash
    -$ 2,000.00 CityOfRiversideRebate
    __________
    =$26,495.00 NET Price

    That’s a mere $200.00 more than a Chevy Cruze LTZ after Feb. rebates!
    Should I dance a jig or prepare for right-wing rioters at the dealership? :(


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:32 pm)

    Jackson: What if auto manufacturers decided to ‘get their feet wet’ in the emerging Carbon Fiber technology by making only the doors, at first? This could be much less daunting (and expensive) than working out the structure of an entire car in the material.

    #51

    Well Chevrolet has been making complete car bodies out of fiberglass, and later on more sophisticated “sheet molded composites” for almost 60 years. The technology is not THAT much different. So they should have a big head start in this area as well as in EREVS.

    It will come, sooner rather than later. 50+ mpg CAFE and 15% EV/EREV requirements will force it in the end.

    The latest Corvettes have more carbon composite bits year by year. Whether they are significant weight savings or more in the way of fashion statements is open to question. But nevertheless, they are the outriders of oncoming change.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:34 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: Should I dance a jig or prepare for right-wing rioters at the dealership? :(

    #64

    Both IMHO, LOL. But heavy on the jig! +1


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:40 pm)

    James: I don’t think we’ll ever be seeing wood car bodies again, but is there a wood-fiber laminate, poly substrate composite high tech answer to the light car dilemma?

    #61

    Well FWIW, recent Corvettes have had their floor panel made out of a layer of balsa wood sandwiched between two layers of Fiber Reinforced Plastic (henceforth referred to as FRP). So I guess anything’s possible.

    James: Tubular frames make up racecars

    More sophisticated race cars have their “frames” (“tubs”) made up of carbon composite layups. F1, Indy, and topline Le Mans style sports prototypes for example. NASCAR and related series still use tube frames, but that’s more of a cost control measure than it is a sign of advanced technology.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (5:45 pm)

    Haven’t read any posts yet, maybe already discussed, but does anyone think sealing problems such as roof leaks and wind noise are worth worrying about with the falcon wings?


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (6:41 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: I know more details will appear here tomorrow, but [ ... ]

    Uh oh. Now you’ve done it.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————–

    Dear GM-Volt Readers: We value everyone’s feedback on our daily stories, but – please – don’t post breaking news or other stories that we could be working on as a post here. Doing this will help ensure fresh daily discussions, and will be better for everyone. If you would instead, please e-mail story ideas to jcobb@verticalscope.com Thank you!

    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————

    CorvetteGuy: Should I dance a jig or prepare for right-wing rioters at the dealership?

    I think it will be sufficient to not tune the AM band while demonstrating car radios. :-P

    … and smile a lot. :-)


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (6:44 pm)

    stuart22:
    Haven’t read any posts yet, maybe already discussed, but does anyone think sealing problems such as roof leaks and wind noise are worth worrying about with the falcon wings?

    Recalling the first decade of roof windows, I’d be very worried.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (7:02 pm)

    Noel Park: James: Will it all crash and burn?#47
    That would be my guess, LOL.

    I thought you were going to make a joke about the Volt battery crash/burn. I think that ship has finally sailed (let’s hope).


  72. 72
    kdawg

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (7:04 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: OT—
    I know more details will appear here tomorrow, but word is that Obama wants to INCREASE incentives for VOLT and other electric cars to $10,000 a pop!

    Jeese.. give me another reason to wait to buy.


  73. 73
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    Feb 13th, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    kdawg: I thought you were going to make a joke about the Volt battery crash/burn.I think that ship has finally sailed (let’s hope).

    #71

    Not me brother. Sorry if it sounded that way. With any luck, the ship has sunk. Which is what I expect Tesla to do BTW.


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    George S. Bower

     

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (7:51 pm)

    kdawg: Jeese.. give me another reason to wait to buy.

    I would not count on this,,,I’m concerned the tax break is going away.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (8:23 pm)

    Jackson: I think it will be sufficient to not tune the AM band while demonstrating car radios.

    I’ll make sure FOX News is not on an XM Pre-set button. :)


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    Mark Z

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (8:41 pm)

    Jackson: Recalling the first decade of roof windows, I’d be very worried.

    Tesla has a water spray booth near the end of the inspection line in their factory. Each vehicle can be checked as part of quality control.

    The photos of Model X on stage give a closeup look of how much overhang there is for the seals. The doors are very thick, so they are not dealing with moon roof quality. The white headliner material indicates where that edge fits inside the vehicle. If anyone will get it right, it should be Tesla, as they stamp the parts in the same factory building.

    One more thought is how excellent the Chevrolet Volt seals are on the rear hatch. Model S has a similar rear hatch. If Model S has leakage, then the vehicle will go in for warranty repair. Only then would I have concern about Model X.

    As far as window leaks, Model S has an optional glass roof that opens up. One thing not clearly shown in the Model X photos is the glass window above the front seat area just like the doors. Notice in the photos that the outside glass roof extends to the edge like Model S, so the seal should extend to the edge.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (8:52 pm)

    Mark Z,

    Good information (including the article), thanks.


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    Feb 13th, 2012 (9:10 pm)

    Isn’t it great and refreshing to see the owner of the company giving a presentation like this. This isn’t a gadget, it’s an automobile.

    kdawg: word is that Obama wants to INCREASE incentives for VOLT and other electric cars to $10,000 a pop!

    Please make it retroactive to last year and include hybrids.


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    unni

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    Feb 13th, 2012 (11:21 pm)

    As beautiful as aztek.


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    Feb 14th, 2012 (2:58 am)

    I am sure that the 2% in the US can afford a Tesla at these prices .. then ofcourse the rich buy it for fun and not for saving on gas. tesla will fit right in for these 2% with hi tech eqiupment in Tesla cars.
    However, for a middle class Joe with half way decent job Volt is ideal. Enuf range for daily commute and generator for long trips. Some more improvements in next gen Volt will make it even better and affordable.
    Folks whine about Volt price (a luxry car) just go a dealership and many cars. SUV etc with some additions top out at $28-32k .. At these prices Volt will be a far better purchase than Prius, BMW mercedes lexus etc. Volt is EREV not old ICE engines with some small batteries crammed in under the hood.


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    Feb 14th, 2012 (6:07 am)

    James:
    I can see from the Tesla wordage, this model is targeted more at women than men. This is smart since women buy more cars ( and crossovers ) each year than men do. If I was in the market for a crossover, I would prioritize the cost and the electric drive over fancy doors. This is a bit of a gimmick and drives price over the comfort zone of many. AWD definativey has it’s merits.

    Overall I have mixed emotions re: Model X.

    Men – take the Model S, better aero, lower center of gravity and sexier looks. Better yet – Tesla, move up the reality of an affordable Tesla.

    RECHARGE! ,

    James

    They moved it ahead of their next Roadster and into 2015. I’m just looking forward to the Model S entering production and seeing what the build quality will be. It will speak volumes to how quickly EV adoption will take place. If quality is on par with a $50-$60k conventional car, they should sell well in this luxury segment. IMO, that and the Volt will be the only plug-in capable vehicles truly competing with conventional rivals in their segment. The 50 mile range Leaf and iMiev are too limiting and form their own segment and the Ford BEV won’t be much different.


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    Feb 23rd, 2012 (12:21 pm)

    The subsequent time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I mean, I do know it was my choice to read, however I truly thought youd have one thing interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you could possibly repair should you werent too busy on the lookout for attention.