Design Issues

Just recently saw the X concept and I am not impressed. The first thing they focused on their presentation are the falcon doors.

1) The biggest question regarding safety issue in a scenario where a vehicle flips and lands upside down. Lets say there is a fire on the front end or the front doors are jammed, how will rear passengers open their doors to escape?

2) Some exotic cars have gullwing doors, but are not driven all season. This X is marketed as an SUV, so it will be driven all year round. In a scenario where there are lots of snow on the roof, when you open the falcon doors, the snow will go crashing down like an avalanche through the door sill in the middle. It will be inconvenient to constantly be reaching up to clearing snow off the roof top, especially for shorter people.

3) The rear 3rd row seats are too tight for someone large to enter/ exit without 2nd row folding seats. These are some of the concerns I have about the X concept design.

4) Dash looks the same as Model S. I was hoping they change the styling to distinguish it apart from the S. Just a thought.

I agree the doors were wobbly and not synchronized, there should be an automatic link to allow second row seats to move forward if there's no child seat in place, they should be easily completely removed or tumbled down, they should be much thinner seat backs and swabs -- there's a laundry list of engineering challenges and only two years to bring it all together.

Utility vehicles need to tow at least small trailer ratings (say 7700lb for equivalent vehicles from all the major brands.) All purpose family vehicles benefit from AWD and that begs the question of variable height suspension and multiple settings for damper and anti-roll bar rates like Porsche with PASM and PDCC.

I like the comparison to a Porsche for the sprint to 60 mph, but it's one thing to exploit the torque of a pair of electric motors in a race on the drawing board to achieve theoretical acceleration, it's another thing to then change direction, brake, steer, accelerate, and repeat while making the whole experience safe and enjoyable for the driver and occupants. The Cayenne is a high mark for the Tesla X. It's fun to set a benchmark with a Porsche, but the comparison begins and ends with a 0-60 launch.

I think the comparison to the Audi land yacht was telling -- the compromise in the Q to make it a seven seater sandwiched into the Cayenne/Touareg platform resulted in zero cargo and the diesel needs a big urea tank instead of a spare or audio system or any space at all (pick one.)

Still and all the same, I see these as achievable goals for features and functionality. The primary value proposition is zero emissions, zero toxic chemicals and a vehicle that presents itself as appropriate for the first half of the 21st century instead of a legacy of the middle of last century but with a Bluetooth handsfree kit stuck in the sun-visor. : )

The thing I'd like to see in the dual motor, dual drive system is dual steering. If there is one innovative technology that brought revolutionary advances to the handling of a four wheel vehicle, it's four wheel steering. Honda had it on their Prelude in Australia in the early 90's. GM had it in the Quadrasteer Suburban. It was too expensive and it was always put behind the disincentive of paying an extra 10% or so on top of the price of the car. What a blunder. If only Tesla could simply take the front power-train with steering and simply replicate it in a sort of push-me-pull-you symmetry so that they're building literally only a single assembly and fitting it front or rear, then arbitrarily releasing parasitic drag for gliding, etc. I delighted in having a four wheel steering car and still consider buying a nearly decade-old car just for that single feature, from high speed stability to low speed cornering, especially for a larger vehicle maneuvering in the close quarters of city and urban driving. If Tesla highlights the advantage of entry and egress in tight parking spots, they neglect to mention the ten point turn required to then drive out of that parking spot ... four wheel steering with appropriate cameras augmenting visibility is a compelling advantage over existing competition.

I think they went after the SUV market that thinks they need an SUV but don't really need one. People haulers rather that material haulers. In that respect they hit a home run. Now if it will appeal to the high end SUV market is another matter.

I say high end because if they price using the Model S logic than it will be in rare territory indeed. $67K base model, 77K for the 85kWH model to achieve any decent range because of size. 87K for the AWD model, 102K for the performance model. Throw in a couple options and all these base model prices go up another 10 to 20K!

Only car above this price range is the G wagon. And they sell only handfulls of these each year. BMW X5M and X6M are closer in price but actually faster and also cheaper. Tough area for TESLA to sell many IMO.

(Keep in mind the marketing that TESLA and all companies do. AWD, sub 5 second, and 85KWH are in the same paragraph, but do not mean they are in the base price! Just thought I would point out the obvious in case it wasn't clear to some.))

BruceR, I am very enthusiastic about the model x, but have to admit price is the most difficult part for me. I hope the 7k incentive is still alive when the model x is ready. I also hope the AWD option does not up the price 10k, but more like 3-5k. Without the incentive and 3k for the AWD, it will still cost 70k - pretty hard to stomach for most of us...

I agree with the tough crowd sentiment. The falcon doors are fantastic. For the relatively small segment that would need to haul a box or skis on top, consider that you could place to one side and only open the alternate side door and problem solved!

However, you must realize the folly in placing on top and not an aft hitch is YOU LOOSE AERODYNAMICS and range...however, placed at the aft of the vehicle you wouldn't loose nearly as much.

I am impressed, but not in market for crossover. I have S reserved.

The critics of the Model X need to chillax. First of all, the ski rack is POSSIBLE! Check out this Tesla Motors Club thread with inside info:

Apparently there is a Model X compatible ski rack in development. Not sure about a box, but let's at least give them the YEAR AND A HALF to develop the car into a final product with final specs before throwing them to the wolves.

If Tesla and Musk have shown us anything, it's that they are extremely smart people. I think the market upside to the X is sky high, particularly considering how many people buy luxury SUVs in this country at the same price range or more. Time will tell.

It would be one miracle rack if it works with falcon doors.

I don't personally care much about roof racks, and falcon doors with snow is not a problem if you just swipe the snow off (that should be standard operation to everyone, falcon doors or not). My peeve is with the front. It needs redesign. It looks a bit like what Ford did with their fiesta-derived crossover. Just add a block to the bottom to fiesta and pretend that it is now a fully developed SUV.

Also for SUV when there is Model S to compete with Model X isn't giving enough advantage. There might be people buying Model X just to get that AWD drive. Put that in Model S and even those go away. I don't think that will sell much. It is not "utility" enough, even that "sports vehicle" is achieved. I was expecting a bit more radical design, something like in MB Bionic Car design.

I don't think battery/charger tech is there yet for SUV:s. You get way less range with heavier low-aerodynamic vehicle than you do with lighter high-aerodynamic one. To get (really) useful range battery cost will be very high, and charging times long. Range anxiety is a real thing for larger BEV:s.

+1 rd2

Timo, Your falcon wing rooftop heating element dismissal and reference to -20 or -30 celsius temps. is skewed. The average overnight winter temp in Chicago in January doesn't come close (-10C, +14F), never mind the distinct warming trend this past decade.

I was never a model X suv/crossover prospect, but I think Tesla will find a good niche within the space. Of course US gas prices closer to $5/gal in 2014 will greatly assist!

@Peak, you said For those in snowy climes. No mention of Chicago. Tesla sales world wide, it get that cold and colder on some rather large parts of the world at winter.

I hope that Tesla isn't planning to sell much of these crossovers. OTOH, if they make money with them with even small number of sales, then even small number should be a nice bonus. It isn't out of Model S sales, not much anyway, because Model S is way superior to that IMO (and would be even more superior with that double-engine drivetrain).

Anyway, I predict there will be stock hit and several reservations canceled when they announce projected operation range. It will not be anything close to Model S, just the size of the car makes that impossible (unless they found a way to make car quite a lot lighter than Model S without increasing costs). I'm guessing at least 20% drop in range (60kWh would give you 190 miles and 85kWh 250 miles). Bigger loss at higher speeds. I will be (positively) surprised if loss is less than that and not really surprised if it is more.

In two years there will be better lithium-ion battery cells. I am sure that these will be used in model X battery packs.

@Timo, why guess. Tesla has already said about 10-12% range penalty. I believe them, don't you?
at 2:35 of the video.

To collect responses to the concerns of the OP:

  1. The mid-door hinges release in an emergency, allowing egress from a rolled vehicle;
  2. Brush off the snow. The X's roof is not so high that most adults can't do this easily, though a long-handled brush will be helpful. Driving around with snow on the roof is dangerous for other drivers and reduces your mileage.
  3. The second-row seats of the X will roll forward in the production vehicles, even though they did not in the prototype.
  4. Model X dash is markedly different than the S's. The X has the display thrust forward, with a large gap between the upper half and the dash. The S, by contrast, at least has the entire display embedded in the dash. The X also has a big slab of wood across the entire length.

Personally, the X doesn't do much for me, but I'm not the target market. To my eye, the X has most of the weaknesses of the S's design, while relatively fewer of its virtues.

See my comments under "the genious of model x".

I've said this in another thread, but it is worth repeating since there seems to be so much angst over the failure of the Model X design to deliver SUV features. The Model X is NOT an SUV. For those of you who have not listened to Tesla or Elon, they have been saying for months that the Model X is not an SUV. No matter how often you say it is an SUV, no matter how much you woiuld like a Tesla SUV, the Model X ain't gonna morph into one. It is a crossover built on the Model S frame (stretched 4 in in length).

If the Model X is parked within 12 inches of another car, I don't believe the Falcon doors will be the issue. The driver won't be able to get out of the standard door! If the door is about 3-4 inches thick, that leaves 8-9 inches to squeeze through. How many of us have the svelte build for that?

When I was hauling 4 kids and a dog around I had a VW Microbus (plenty of functionality, little performance). When there was only 12 inches clearance to the car next to me, and the sliding door was open, it was very difficult to get in and out.

I Don't need a crossover, I'm buying the Model S, but I think the market segment the Model X addresses is going to go for it. IMHO that ain't going to be the guys.

jackhub....If there is no center console, then one can get to the driver's seat from the falcon door opening by walking between the front bucket seats. This is only a guess, but try it when you see the prototype.

@Klaus Tesla has already said about 10-12% range penalty. I believe them, don't you?

In this case, no I don't believe them. Not until I see the real results for beta testing cars. If it is that low they have managed to again make small miracle in car design. I would be really impressed.

@stephen.k: there is a center console, it just doesn't extend very far forward between the two seats. If you're athletic, you could wriggle over it. :-)

As I posted on another thread ( ) playing with the drag-and-drop on the X page is informative:

The geometry of the falcon doors is such that you need (I guesstimate) only about 6-8" clearance for them to get up and out of the way. Then the constraint/bottleneck is your own required clearance. And even then, the fact that the interior is now available to you, once past the outer doorframe, that increases the clearance for access to the driver's seat at least another 6-8".
I note that the max extension of the door is when it is already above the roofline of the S parked beside it. The closest it actually gets to the S is at just above the side-mirror level, and that's still several inches away. Now imagine opening the S' door. Far less room available for that.
Bottom line: the X is much easier to enter and exit than the S.

The space available will be somewhat less if the next car is another SUV or other tall vehicle, of course.

Doh. Just realized that the driver (front) door(s) are standard. So they require the same kind of clearance that any other car does. So opening the falcon door and the driver's door partway would be about the best "tight quarters" plan, I suppose.

I am not going to be parking my $70K+ X anywhere within 2ft from other cars. Even if you can can exit the vehicle, the neighboring car's inmates wont be able to and a ding is imminent. For us, our garage (planned addition) will be pretty tight thanks to city regulations - so the falcon doors was a god send.

I grew up in the northeast. I've shoveled a lot of snow, broomed off a lot of cars, and waited patiently while cars warmed up enough to get all the ice off the windows. On rare occasions, passenger doors would be iced over. Usually, you can get in on one side and start the car to warm it up, then the other door will open.

Would the Falcon wing doors be an issue for me? Not really. Particularly if there was some sort of heating element that inhibited the doors from freezing over. Anyway, you shouldn't drive a car with snow on the roof. You broom it off first.

Overall, I like the design, though I could see how it might be too radical for some. But then again, plug-in EVs are pretty radical anyway. Tip - the second row seat needs to slide forward when the seat back is tilted forward, to allow better access for 3rd row passengers. Anyway, it still provides better access to the 3rd row than the typical minivan design, which requires you to enter the second row, navigate to the gap in the center, then wedge yourself back to the 3rd row.

David, TM has said that the 2nd row will slide forward on the production cars.

And with the smartphone app, we won't have to get into the car to start warming it up, which should help a lot with ice around the door seals. I worry about that because, at least with the Model S, you have to be able to roll down the window by a bit to open the door -- and that's not easy if the car is covered in a sheet of ice.

I finally found a video that actually plays about that Model X reveal (found out that Vimeo site couch mode works). I have to say that car looks a lot better "live" than in pictures here. It isn't as large as I got impression (having actual people close to it helps), and it is quite sleek in design. For some reason my impression from the pictures here was not that good.

My sister would love that car. She needs a car that has that much room and she isn't fan of gasoline SUV:s.

I have to take some of my words back, now that I have seen the car with people and some a bit better show I can see why someone would like to buy it instead of Model S (more than just AWD reasons).

I hope to see both Model S and X in real life soon. And I hope they don't offer me test run, I don't want to rob a bank ;-) (maybe if I move to less expensive part of the city and sell this one...).

You're thinking of selling your expensive portion of the city? How much of it do you own?

A roof rack might be made for, say, the left side of the X. A "disable left falcon door - roof rack mode" switch would be simple. Yes, that would make is so you'd have to exit on the right side from the back rows. Can't have everything.

Note to those who want heaters on the car for eliminating frozen situations:
It would work for temperatures close to 0 Celcius. But beware using such a feature when the temperature drops a few degrees lower. There's a point where there's probably only snow on the car - no ice - and you'd be melting the bottom layer a little, potentially creating ice when there wasn't a problem before. Any lower temps than that and the heater wouldn't warm the snow enough to melt anything (when there's so small an amount of snow that there's negligible insulation going on). In these situations, even if the X has a heater, just brush off the snow, don't try to melt it; you'd just make things worse.

Do people living in snowy climates typically park their $70 k vehicles outdoors overnight? In reality most are probably garaged. I dont understand this negative harping about the practicality of the falcon doors. When i have had my SUV parked at a ski resort during a snowstorm I return to my vehicle and simply dust off the areas around the doors. What's the big deal? If you live in a climate where your doors are frequently frozen closed I believe you will have problems EV or ICE, falcon doors or traditional. I don't recognize this as a legitimate argument against Tesla's design.


It's not just Snow overnight!

Colorado can dump snow during the day while at work or even better when you are up skiing. So when you come back to your car this would be an issue to deal with.

Overnight I'm not concerned as it is in my garage.

I'm sorry, but it's hard to imagine I'd be upset coming back from a full day of skiing to find my car covered in snow, simply because I bought a car with falcon doors.

I'd just get as much of the snow off the car as possible, as I would any car. Okay, to get others into the back seats might take a little longer, or they'd have to actually go in through the front right door and walk back. At least the car would be warm inside by the time I found the car because I pulled out my phone at the top of the last run, and told the car to get ready.

Worst case scenario is sheet ice over the doors would prevent me from opening one because some chunks would fall into the car. I'd have to have everyone get in via the other doors and drive slowly for a few miles so the vibration breaks up the ice. It wouldn't be the first time.

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