Future CC Outtake: Tesla Model X And Tesla Model 3 – If They’re Here, They’ll Be Everywhere

If you regularly visit CC or any other car community on the internet, you’re probably more in tune with the automotive industry than the average individual. And if you’re like me, you get exited when you’re able to walk right up to a brand new model. Until recently, finding a Tesla in my neck of the woods was like spotting a unicorn head banging to Metallica. In other words, they were quite rare. That is no longer the case.

If you’re in the market for a new Tesla and you live in upstate New York, you’re gonna have a heck of a time purchasing one. I’m sure Tesla takes orders online and over the phone, but I’d personally want to test drive one before pulling the trigger, as I’ve never driven an electric car before. I’d also want to make sure I liked their funky interiors.

And even if you live in NYC proper its a bit of a trek to find a location that can actually sell you one. Manhattan and Brooklyn have one store each, as does Long Island. There are two galleries, also in Long Island, but they can only show you their inventory.

That leaves two showrooms for “upstate” New York. The Mount Kisco store is one of them, and its the closest one to my house, although it would take me about 45 minutes to get there.

The bottom line is that in some areas of the country its a bit harder for people to test drive, purchase, and own a Tesla. How difficult is it? That depends. The vast majority of houses in the region are single family units with a two car garage. All they really need to do is install a home charger and they’re good to go, so the lack of Superchargers isn’t a terribly big concern.

Even if charging up your electric car simply involves plugging it in while it sits in the garage, to own such a vehicle in 2018 means you’re still a bit of a pioneer. And the Tesla design language is distinctive enough to stand out from other luxury makes by a significant margin. Our featured Model X is no exemption. With a near complete absence of sharp creases and an extremely raked windshield, the X looks much smaller than it actually is. And kudos to the owner for getting such a great color, which aside from red is the only other paint job that isn’t grey scale.

I had to do a double take when I saw these specs. The X is a little over an inch longer than a Ford Explorer and .2 inches wider. Those dimensions are much larger than I had anticipated.

Can you believe this crossover has a third row in the back? I imagine those seats are quite useless for everyone except small children and Ewoks. And that misaligned hatch isn’t exactly confidence inspiring.

ED: here’s a picture of the Model X interior and its third row seats, which are rated by users as fine for kids and shorter adults, and ok for normal-sized adults if the middle seats are moved forward a bit. In other words, as good or better than other vehicles of this type. Due to the intrinsic advantages of EV packaging, interior space in Teslas is bigger than comparable IC cars. Even the Model S sedan has optional rear-facing third row seats, as well as a small trunk (“frunk”) in the front of the car.

This particular Model X is the 75D, which is the least expensive trim level, and its 75 kwh battery delivers approximately 239 miles on a single charge. Although there is a 60 mile range deficit when compared to the 100D, its still pretty quick (4.9 seconds 0-60). And its much less expensive too: a base 75D retails for about $80,000 while a P100D starts at $140,000. Customers in the market for the most expensive Model X could instead spend the same amount on a base Model X and a roughly $60,000 Model 3.

It’s hard to say the Model X has more value than other Tesla models even with its additional cargo capacity. It’s the most expensive Tesla with the least amount of range. Unlike the Model S and the Model 3, the X is nowhere near the class leader in its segment. It was handily outsold by the Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90 in August.

Why is that? For starters, the X is simply more expensive than the competition. And three row crossovers are primarily designed for family duty, which means road trips. The X simply cannot compete with a vehicle that can travel 400 miles without stopping for a significant amount of time to acquire more energy.

Are there other issues with the Model X? For customers wary about switching to an all-electric vehicle, dealing with other changes to the day-to-day driving experience may prove to be too much. An expansive windshield that stretches up and basically over the heads of the front passengers is certainly a potential deal-breaker. Sunlight glare was so bad that Tesla even developed and shipped sunshades to Model X owners.

Then there’s the “Falcon Wing” doors. It is true that the car is intelligent enough to raise the doors high enough where they won’t rub up against anything close by, but the setup doesn’t work all the time and owners have complained about numerous issues with them, including water leakage. In some ways, the hubris of Elon Musk is best represented in the Model X. There are extremely promising elements surrounded by inexplicably complicated features that probably should have been left on the drawing board.

Fortunately for Tesla, the Model 3 doesn’t carry the same baggage. Sure, the plant that builds the 3 struggled to reach various production milestones, but that isn’t really the fault of the car itself. And fit and finish on brand new cars is always spotty. Even companies like Honda struggle with quality when the vehicles they’re producing are all-new.

That being said, did the 3 really need to be built by trouble prone robots right out of the gate? Did the 3 really need to separate itself from the pack with its truly keyless entry system? Probably not.

But you can’t argue with results. While the 3 does compete in the compact luxury segment, there really is nothing like it. No other automaker currently produces a vehicle that can travel 310 miles on a single charge. And the Supercharger network replenishes those batteries faster than the competition too. Crucially, sporty driving dynamics were also a priority for the company. A Model 3 that wasn’t quick and didn’t handle well would have likely spelled disaster for the brand, not only because of what the sedan competes against, but also due to the expectations set by the performance of the Model S and Model X.

This particular Model 3 is the first I’ve been able to check out at close range. And I know for certain that this one is owned by a local, because I had a chance to speak to its owner.

She told me her 3 cost about $64,000 before incentives. With Tesla keeping order combinations to a minimum, it wasn’t hard to figure out exactly what features she purchased. I had already known the car had all wheel drive and the optional alloy rims, so it was a bit of a surprise to find out that she also went for the non-existent self-driving option. Would you pay for a feature that doesn’t exist and isn’t even guaranteed?

If you want to be a part of history, then why not? In this day and age its rare to own a paradigm shifting product.

The only real issue I had with the 3 was the interior. Its quality was definitely what you’d expect for a luxury car, but at $64,000 its really pushing it. And while minimalism has its virtues, the 3 absolutely needs a heads up display, because crucial information like miles per hour are confined to its touch screen, which is obviously not ideal.

More traditional automakers will eventually enter the all electric market with products that more directly compete with Tesla. But for now the brand has an ethos and an aesthetic that captivates the public. The company isn’t going anywhere, even if its CEO lacks impulse control. Apple didn’t shut down once Samsung figured out how to build a decent smart phone. As long as Tesla continues to build products that look the part they’ll be okay. And if you have yet to see one in the flesh, it probably won’t be long until they show up in your town too.

Make/ModelAugust 2018 SalesYear to date sales
as of August 2018
% change from last year
Tesla Model 317,800 (estimate)56,417n/a
Mercedes C Class4,07137,571-28.8 %
BMW 3 Series3,75131,116-16.3%
Infiniti Q502,55124,105-2.6 %

ED: Reliable sources are reporting that that Tesla will build 53,000 Model 3s in the third quarter, and a total of some 80,000 cars (Models S, X, 3).  This represents a 187% increase over the second quarter. Actual production numbers and deliveries will be announced by Tesla today. The Model 3 is already by far the best selling EV, and outsells its EV and IC competition by significant margins.

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CC of the Future: 2013 Tesla Model S – Welcome to the 21st Century, Your Jet Pack is Here by Mike Butts