Elon Musk: Model X is a harder design problem but worth the wait

Tesla Model X

At the Geneva Auto Salon a few weeks ago, we were surprised to see that, unlike the previous year, Tesla had no Model X on display. The booth bunnies had no explanation to offer, but in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Elon Musk shed a little light on that topic.

While demand for the Model X is high – some expect it to be even more popular than the Model S – the launch date has been pushed back several times, and the electric SUV is now scheduled to go into production in 2015. This would be understandable, as the company is busy getting the Model S (and the Supercharger network) rolled out in worldwide markets, to say nothing of planning the Gigafactory. However, Musk said Tesla is simply taking the time to get it right.


“I’m somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to product design. So, I can actually take the blame for some of that delay being due to me personally not being completely happy with the product. The hardest thing about the X is achieving great form and great functionality. It’s easy to give up on one of those two. It’s damn hard to make an SUV that’s beautiful and yet incredibly functional at the same time. Actually, it’s a harder design problem than the Model S.” 

It will be worth the wait, says Musk. “I don’t want to come out with something where the production version is in any way worse than the prototype – in fact I really am quite insistent that the production version be superior to anything we’ve demonstrated before.”

Musk doesn’t see the delays with the X affecting the timetable for the mass-market Model E (or whatever it’s to be called).

Interviewer Betty Liu wanted to talk about rumors that Tesla has been in discussions with Apple about a possible merger or acquisition, but Musk refused to be drawn, calling a sale of the company “very unlikely.”

She also asked about “driverless cars” (Tesla prefers the term “autopilot”), which Musk said are only a few years away. “Tesla has built up significant expertise in autonomous driving…at this point we’ve probably got the strongest autonomous driving engineering team of any auto company. We expect to be the first company to market with significant autonomous driving function in the vehicles.”               


Source: Bloomberg
Images: Jurvetson/Flickr – top, Tesla Motors – bottom

  • ned_plimpton

    Taking the time to design the best possible product, sounds like the Silicon Valley culture. Sad that it’s a novel idea to other industries.

  • Jeremy Bloomfield

    I do hope that TESLA dont go ahead with the Gull wing door, in the UK and a lot of Europe we dont have enough parking space to make this work. Your average supermarket barely has enough space to get in and out of the car. In many multistory car parks I doubt that they have the headroom for these to open. If the problem is getting large sized Americans out of a relatively small rear door opening, make the doors slide. Or make the car larger for the US. The US Focus was larger wheelbase than the EU one for just that reason. Or get Americans to slim down. Large people already have a problem of getting into the front of the TESLA model s. In the netherlands the males are no so tall that I fear they woulnt get under the open door anyway.

    • Jason Salvatori

      The gull wing doors actually require less room to open than conventional doors – that is why they were decided upon. The horizontal opening swing is less than an equivalent side door would be, and the overall height when open is designed to fit in a standard garage, just under 7 feet.
      “The production Model X will definitely have the eye-catching “falcon doors.” The double-hinged doors will be equipped with sensors that will adjust the opening sequence to avoid hitting any nearby objects. “If you can fit your Model X between two other cars, the doors will open,” said Musk.”


    • BarackObama

      making the car larger costs money.

  • BarackObama

    The gullwing door is great in your own garage.

    Do not think this allows you to pull into a tight spot. Your adjacent car may not like having a car so close and not be generous when THEY have so squeeze in their own car.