Tesla to unveil Model X SUV in February

Details are still top secret, but Tesla has already told us that it will have three rows of seats with room for seven passengers, and will “incorporate the functionality of a minivan with the consumer appeal of a sports-utility vehicle.”

 

Tech visionary Elon Musk outlined “a big year for Tesla” in 2012 in an interview with GigaOM. Toyota’s fully electric RAV4, which features Tesla’s power train, battery pack and software, will be released around midyear. Tesla’s eagerly-awaited Model S will start deliveries to customers no later than July, and the company aims to produce 20,000 units per year “as soon as possible.”

And the big news…Zap! The 2013 Model X crossover SUV will be unveiled on February 9. Details are still top secret, but Tesla has already told us that it will have three rows of seats with room for seven passengers, and will “incorporate the functionality of a minivan with the consumer appeal of a sports-utility vehicle.”

Musk also offered some insights into the larger future of transportation. “The way I see it is that all transportation will go electric except for rockets,” said Musk, who’s also the CEO of SpaceX. “I don’t think there is such a thing as the electric vehicle market and the internal combustion market — it’ll all go electric. It’s just a question of producing a compelling product.

“Currently for electric vehicles, there isn’t a problem with demand, there’s only a supply limitation. As many compelling electric cars that can be made will be bought. It just takes time to get them made.

“The biggest effect that Tesla will have on the market is being a good example for the overall car industry. We can show the industry that if you make cars that look good, have good performance and long range then people will buy them. With the Roadster we spurred GM to create the Volt, which Bob Lutz has been kind enough to acknowledge. The second effect will be the sector effect. Through the cars we make and the power trains that we supply to others.

“I think we’ll also see steady improvements in battery technology. In the case of the Model S, it’s less than half the cost per kilowatt hour of the Roadster. So we’ve made a huge improvement there and the range has increased and the efficiency has improved. I think we’ll continue to see an improvement in the cost in battery energy maybe 7 to 9 percent per year. That may not sound like a lot, but if you compound that over several years it becomes very significant.”