Yesterday, there were four major product reveals in America. Together, they offer an interesting comparison of solid, affordable tech design for the masses and outside-the-box, moonshot design that's reserved for top-tier earners.
In the former category, there's Google. The tech giant took to the stage in San Francisco to debut slick new iterations of its Nexus smartphones, which will undoubtedly find their way into millions of pockets and purses within the coming year. The company also showed off its next-gen Chromecast devices, which, like Roku boxes and Apple TV, are poised to change the way that households consume media. And Google also dropped a new work-oriented tablet that could help upend the modern office.
An hour away, in Fremont, California, Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk unveiled the production version of its luxury, all-electric Model X SUV, which is priced from around $80,000. (Early editions cost $132,000+.)
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The response to Google's event? Good, but not great.
The response to Tesla? Far more enthusiastic. Although many people may not even see a Model X in the wild -- at least not for a year or so -- excitement is huge. Musk and his team continue to create desirability for their products, even though current price points put them out of reach of most consumers. If they can keep that up, it bodes well for less-expensive models like the Model 3, due out in 2018.
This isn't our first glimpse of the Model X. Musk first unveiled a prototype in 2012, and the design hasn't changed too radically in the intervening months. It's still aerodynamic, it still has a giant, panoramic sunroof, and of course, it still has those eye-popping "falcon doors".
What's changed are some of the details. Here are some of the high points, a few of which had been revealed before last night's unveiling:
- While the Model X has a conventional crumple zone up front, it has no conventional grille. That may take some getting used to.
- The high-tech crossover anticipates your every move, opening the front doors as drivers approach and shutting them as the driver and passenger are seated.
- The falcon doors appear to work as planned, hinged in such a way that they can open even when the Model X is wedged into tight parking spots. (In fact, there are sensors in the doors to keep them from dinging nearby vehicles.) Whether they leak in daily use, as many gullwing doors do, remains to be seen.
- The Model X will come in two versions to start: the 90D all-wheel-drive, which earns 257 miles per charge and 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds, and a P90D performance version, which earns 250 miles per charge and hits 60 mph in 3.8 seconds (or 3.2 if you get the "Ludicrous" speed upgrade).
- The Model X has three rows, and depending on the seating configuration you choose, the car will seat either six or seven people. The middle row shifts automatically to make loading and unloading easier.
- The Model X can tow 5,000 pounds, which will undoubtedly reduce battery range.
- Perhaps the most-talked-about feature is the Model X's "Bioweapons Defense" button. It's basically part of the SUV's high-quality HEPA air filtration system, but as Musk described it, the system is so strong, it can ward off weaponized viruses and bacteria. (Between this and Musk's highly publicized fear of artificial intelligence, we're beginning to worry a bit about the guy's sense of paranoia.)
Signature and Founder editions of the Model X started at $132,000 and $142,000, respectively, but they're sold out. Deliveries of those models began last night, after the unveiling.
Regular versions won't be that expensive. As Musk tweeted out a few hours ago, the base Model X is likely to fall in the $80,000 range, with cheaper versions to follow:
Btw, price of Model X is actually only $5k more than S. Lower cost versions coming later.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 30, 2015
Unfortunately, if you haven't yet put down your $5,000 reservation, you won't receive your Model X until late next year. To start the ball rolling, visit TeslaMotors.com.