Can the Tesla Model X ‘Accelerate the Advent of Sustainable Transport’?

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk debuted the long-awaited Tesla Model X, a fully electric SUV. The Model X is the third electric vehicle Tesla Motors has produced, with the Tesla Roadster and Model S preceding.

The Model X boasts some impressive features that give legitimacy to Musk’s claim that this is the safest SUV on the market. In a class of vehicles prone to rollover, Tesla has reduced this risk by positioning the car’s battery under the floor, which lowers the center of gravity of the vehicle. By replacing a traditional engine block with an electric battery that isn’t in the hood of the car, the crumple zone is larger so that in the event of a front-end collision, the risk of passenger injury is significantly lower. On top of that, the software upgrade in the Model X includes advanced sensors to detect impending crashes and will automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash.

In addition to its safety features, the Model X is prepared for apocalyptic scenarios: a “bioweapon defense mode” renders the car’s cabin essentially bacteria and virus free. The industry’s best air filters remove pollen, bacteria, viruses and other pollutants, and elevates the air pressure inside to keep the interior of the car comparably sterile to an operating room, touts Tesla.

The Model X also features what Tesla claims is the largest windshield ever installed on a production vehicle. The panoramic glass is designed to enhance the driver’s experience and Tesla also claims that it can reduce car sickness. The top portion of the glass is tinted to protect against UV rays. Perhaps the most interesting feature for car lovers will be the “Ludicrous Speed” mode, at which the vehicle can go from 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. That, coupled with a 250-mile driving capacity from a single charge, and you’ve got a seriously compelling electric vehicle.

But the true innovation of the Tesla Model X is its commitment to connectivity at every angle. New software enables automatic lane changing and self-parallel parking, and smart rear passenger falcon doors equipped with ultrasonic sensors adapt to the environment around them, adjusting automatically if the car is parked in a garage with a low ceiling, or if very close to another vehicle. Similarly, the driver’s side door opens automatically as they approach the vehicle, and closes when they sit down.

Tesla’s already celebrated 17” touchscreen brings new apps, vehicle data, and connectivity to the forefront. This connectivity built into the car allows one to instantly learn about new features that the car has gained from software updates and change driver profiles at the click of a button.

Certainly revolutionary for the SUV market, and for the electric car market in general, the concern remains with production time and the price tag. Tesla production has been notoriously backlogged, with the Model X’s release already two years late. The other problem is the price tag. With the Model X starting at $100,000 and $132,000 for the signature series model. For a company that wants to “accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” a price tag that hefty will be a significant barrier.

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