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Transportation Technology

Tesla Reveals Its Model X Gullwing SUV 306

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-that-extra-space-were-all-battery dept.
thecarchik writes "The new, all-electric Tesla Model X crossover, which was introduced on stage by Tesla CEO Elon Musk (also the man behind SpaceX), isn't exactly a step toward the mass market. But it does take on premium utility vehicles with three rows of seating for up to seven, better maneuverability than a Mini Cooper, and a 0-60 mph time of just 4.4 seconds—that's faster than a Porsche 911, Musk jeered. But the real oohs and ahs of the evening came when Musk showed the Model X's much-anticipated 'falcon doors' — essentially gullwing rear doors, behind normal hinged front doors." The expected price before tax-credit shenanigans? $60,000-$90,000.
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Tesla Reveals Its Model X Gullwing SUV

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  • by eth1 (94901) on Friday February 10, 2012 @05:09PM (#38999493)

    So can I jump in one of these and expect to drive at a steady 70mph for over 300 miles? If it can't, then it can't replace my diesel car.

    I don't care if it can do 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. I *do* care if it can do 0 to 250 miles in 4.5 hours.

    You wouldn't replace your diesel car with a gas or diesel SUV, either, would you (unless you need the space)?

    This is a soccer mom vehicle. They don't drive 70mph for 300 miles. They drive 30-50 mph for lots of small trips, which is what an electric is really good for. Think of this as an electric replacement for gas-hog SUVs, and it makes more sense.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Friday February 10, 2012 @07:01PM (#39001015) Homepage

    Having just watched Revenge of the Electric Car recently, they came very close, to the point where they almost couldn't make payroll, and were only saved by Musk handing over the last of his money, which was basically completely gone because he had already dumped it all into Tesla and SpaceX. If the documentaries depictions of events (and the things Musk says in the documentary) are to be believed, the company came within inches of blowing up, and they did have layoffs. These days, they're in far more favourable shape (in terms of resiliency) than they were back then.

  • I hate to say it because I really admire the guy too, but canning Martin Eberhardt was perhaps the single most intelligent thing that Elon Musk ever did.

    I understand why the original Tesla founder did the thing that he did, but he also showed that he was out of his element in terms of operating a major automotive manufacturing company. A brilliant designer and certainly somebody who helped bring Tesla up to where it is today in terms of doing a fantastic job of going from start-up and through the prototyping stages of the Roadster, but closing the deal was very hard.

    What was the nearly fatal blow was the transmission of the Roadster. Eberhardt chose to outsource nearly all of the parts and production of the Roadster in the initial proposal, and this included the transmission system going from the motor to the wheels. The problem is that an electric motor of the kind that Tesla was using had far more torque being applied than is typical for that size of vehicle using an internal combustion engine. When all was said and done, the transmission simply didn't work and Tesla was faced with trying to find a replacement that would even just "make do" much less have the performance they were expecting.

    Originally it was supposed to be a two speed transmission (High and Low gear ratios) with the idea that you get higher torque at the low gear, but use the high gear for highway cruising. The transmission to get that accomplished simply wouldn't last that long (I heard reports of just a few hundred or a thousand miles between transmission replacements on the engineering prototypes) and such a situation simply was not going to be useful for the final production version. The final transmission couldn't even be shipped in time to be put into the first production vehicles coming from England, so it had to be installed when the first production cars arrived in California. Eventually that "temporary" assembly facility ended up becoming much more permanent and about all that Lotus ended up building were the "gliders" where the final assembly took place in California. That was not the original intention, but that is how it ended up.

    One other huge problem with the early production versions was a significant problem with the battery controller. Essentially it had a bunch of bugs in the firmware that needed to be worked out, and it took time to get it working correctly so it wasn't constantly requiring a charge or discharging even when the Roadster was idle. Basically the early Roadsters sitting in a parking lot would discharge its battery rather quickly. This problem was eventually resolved, but it was an embarrassment and sort of glossed over by the Tesla PR team. Because all of the Roadsters with the problem were still under warranty, when the vehicles were brought in for "routine service", the firmware and in some cases the entire battery pack was replaced,.

    There were other problems as well, and it was that transition from the engineering prototype to a real production vehicle that was the tough stretch. Elon Musk was also stretched real thin in regards to SpaceX, which was also having problems in terms of being able to actually get into space and really digging into cash reserves. That Elon Musk weathered that storm is all that more amazing, and went through a divorce all at the same time.

    Musk also tried to move Tesla Motors to the Los Angeles area (with a facility in Long Beach that almost was built) in part so he wouldn't have to commute between the two companies. Then the NUMMI plant became available with a cash infusion by Toyota that made Tesla what it is today. While Tesla certainly is still very much entrepreneurial in their attitude towards car making, they are not nearly on that razor edge they were back at the introduction of the Roadster.

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