Tesla Model X: Apocalypse Proof

 

Tesla released the third model in their automotive line up in September of 2015. It’s called the Model X and it brings a familiar, yet refreshing design.  The Model X is a full size crossover SUV that was built off the platform of the Model S. Tesla was originally going to release the Model X back in early 2014 but wanted to reach the Model S production target of 20,000 cars for the year, so pushed it back yet again. To the surprise of no one, November 2014 came around and Tesla announced they would once again push back the release date of the Model X until Q3 2015. Sales began in September and 208 lucky owners received their Model X by the end of the year.

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Elon Musk standing in the second row

The first exterior difference that stuck out to me was the Model X’s lack of a grille. The Model X is an electric car, meaning it has no need for a front air intake to cool the combustion engine. That being said, I believe the Tesla design team did an excellent job making the front of the model X aesthetically pleasing, even while opting out of an artificial grille. The most distinct design feature the Model X offers its occupants are the falcon wing doors. These doors rise upwards and out rather than gullwing doors that only open outward. The advantage of falcon wing doors is that the opening radius is only 12 inches. That means when you find yourself in a tight parking spot, no need to worry about getting trapped in the back seat.  Additionally, these falcon wing doors allow occupants to stand in the second row, allowing easy access to the third row when loading heavy objects like booster seats. Lastly, the Model X uses the largest piece of glass in a production vehicle. The Model X windshield extends over the driver of the car and concludes at the B-pillar. This gives a convertible-esque feel to the Model X and removes the need for a sunroof, which the falcon wing doors would prevent.

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17 inch center display

The Model X interior is a direct representation of all the bells and whistles you would find inside a Model S. Once you step inside you will be greeted by the beautiful 12-inch digital dashboard display located behind the steering wheel. It might be hard to keep your eyes on the puny 12-inch display when you glance to your right (left in the UK) to find a 17 inch display that controls every aspect of the car.

At first glimpse, you might not expect the Model X to be the most powerful SUV on the market, but never judge a book by its cover. The Model X comes in two different configurations the 90D and the P90D. Both configurations have the same battery and both are all wheel drive. The 90D has two electric motors that ­when combined do 520 horsepower. The P90D takes things a step further and bumps that rear electric motor to 503 horsepower. At the end of the day, the P90D brings to the table over 700 horsepower and 713 lb-ft of torque. You better get used to seeing the P90D badge on the rump of the Model X.

The Model X only offers a 90kWh battery. Equivalent battery sizes are offered with the Model S but due to the Model X’s heavy weight, it takes a toll on the overall range. The P90D has an EPA rated 250 miles of range, while the 90D has 257 miles of range. The difference of range between the Model X is roughly 10% less than the Model S.

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Falcon wing doors

 

Safety has always been the forefront at Tesla Motors. One risk that all SUV’s face is rollover during an accident. This is due the majority of the weight being above the wheels. Thankfully, Tesla use large battery packs that keep majority of that weight under the floor. This creates a low center of gravity making the Model X exceptionally more difficult to rollover. With no engine in the front of the car, the nose of the vehicle can absorb more head on impact without crushing the main cabin.  Aside from an incredibly well built structure, the Model X has a litany of add-on safety features from emergency breaking systems, autopilot functionality, and lastly, but not all, the Model X offers a cabin air filtration system. This keeps the occupants inside breathing fresh air while the apocalypse is occurring outside.

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Model X Windshield

If you are someone considering purchasing one of these elite vehicles, you’ll have to be patient. Tesla currently has more than 20,000 reservations for the Model X and you may have to wait for new order forms in 2017. That’s the first thing to consider when purchasing a Model X, the second being the price. The 90D configuration goes for a cool $132,000 and the P90D is $142,000. Not an inexpensive car but Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla says a 70DkWh battery is on its way which begin at $80,000. Still…not that inexpensive.

The Model X plays a large role in the expansion of Tesla, helping them get 50,000 cars a year up to 75,000-100,000. The Model X will help better situate Tesla in the future when they reveal the Model 3, their base line model starting at $30,000 that will appeal to a larger audience. Only time will tell if the Model X will do its part for Tesla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look Ma, No Hands

In October 2014, Tesla began production of the Model S with self driving technology implemented into the car. This technology consists of a forward looking radar and camera, twelve long range ultrasonic sensors, positioned to sense 16 feet around the car in every direction, at any speed, and lastly a high precision digitally controlled electric braking system. Though in its infinite stages, this was the beginning of autonomous driving.

A year later in October 2015, Tesla released software update 7.0 which delivered a variety of new safety and driving feedback modules. These modules work hand in hand with automated driving hardware features previously available in the Model S.  With new software features, Tesla represented the only automotive company that offers its customers a fully integrated autonomous driving system.

What makes the 7.0 update such a game changer though? Well let me tell you! The feedback modules installed now allow Tesla to use Big Data to further increase the safety and performance of autonomous driving.

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Tesla Model S Dashboard

The feedback modules consist of the camera, radar, ultrasonic, and GPS. When these systems are turned on, or in other words, when using autopilot, it sends real time data feedback from the Tesla fleet. This means that these systems are continuously learning and improving upon itself. Look at yourself not as the owner of a Tesla, but a master trainer. Autopilot’s current features include: “ability to steer within a lane, change lanes with the simple tap of a turn signal, manage speeds using traffic aware cruise control, internal digital control over brakes, steering, and electric motors. This helps prevent collisions from the front and sides as well as stopping your car from driving off the road.” Additionally, if you are looking to parallel park, simply pull along side the available spot, and the Tesla will park on command.

Even a month after the release of update 7.0, Tesla owners already started reporting noticeable growth in the autopilot capabilities. On the Tesla Motors Club forum, a P85D owner noticed that the Tesla had began following the highway more accurately and learning what exit ramps were.

“So far I have a little over 300 miles on autopilot, mostly 20 miles at a time on my commute to and from work. The first day when I was in the right lane, as I approached exit ramps, it would dive for the exit ramp. I quickly learned to apply torque to the wheel to hold the car on the interstate until I had passed the exit. Each day the system seems to have less tendency to follow the exit ramps as I pass. The last two days it only gave a momentary wiggle and moved over maybe six inches towards the exit ramp then it recovered and moved on down the road. This morning it gave only a very slight hesitation, so little that I did not have to correct it at all. I find it remarkable that it is improving this rapidly. I wonder if it is getting more information on this section of road or if it is changing how it reacts to any exit ramp?” – username: Mobe

Present day, Tesla is gathering about one million miles of data per day. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, stated, “The capability will [keep improving over time] both from a standpoint of all the extra drivers but also in terms of the software functionality” Tesla has taken leaps of faith in the past trying to persuade the public that electric transportation is the future. Now, I can only expect Tesla to take similar measures with autonomous driving is next.