Charge up your flux capacitors! We’re going back to the future with Tesla Motors’ unveiling of its gull-winged, all-electric sports utility vehicle.
The seven-seater 155 mph family crossover with side doors that spring up – not out – bears a passing resemblance to the time-travelling DeLorean in the Back To The Future sci-fi movie of the Eighties.
Tesla said this week the first deliveries to Britain are expected in 2016. But despite its ability to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 3.8 seconds, some critics have questioned whether what is being hailed as the first-all electric SUV – called the Model X – really does have the X factor.
Showtime: Elon Musk, head of Tesla Motors, unveils Model X, an all-electric seven-seater SUV
Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk claims to have secured 25,000 pre-orders for the Model X, which can do 250 miles on a single charge, with a year’s waiting list for deliveries.
Analysts said the launch of the Model X represents a milestone for the loss-making Silicon Valley car-maker during a period of high spending and modest growth, because it now has a second model in production beyond its Model S saloon, which was launched in 2012.
‘I think we got a little carried away with the X,’ Musk said at the launch – two years behind schedule – near the company’s factory in Fremont, California.
Musk said the all-wheel-drive Model X was ‘the hardest car to build in the world’.
The falcon-wing doors are controlled by sensors that can alter their height so they won’t hit garage ceilings. The car has seats that can be adjusted separately, and a panoramic windscreen that extends overhead. Musk said the biggest challenge was making the doors open in a graceful, ‘balletic’ manner and that the expansive windshield is the largest piece of glass ever used in a car.
There’s also a 17in touchscreen to control the in-car and driving systems, while an air-filtration system can apparently protect the driver and passengers from a biological attack with a ‘bio-weapon defence mode’. Among the cars that could give the Model X a run for its money are petrol-electric hybrids such as the Mitsubishi Outlander Phev, Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid and BMW X5 xDrive 40e.
In August, Musk said Tesla would make between 50,000 to 55,000 Model S and Model X vehicles this year, with the capacity for up to 1,800 vehicles a week to roll off its production line next year. Sadly, none will have the fictitious flux capacitor used to propel the cinematic DeLorean through time.
Tesla boss Elon Musk, who was reportedly the role model for Robert Downey Jnr’s portrayal of industrialist Tony Stark in Marvel comics’ Iron Man movies, even has solutions for the Volkswagen scandal over rigged emission testing in the U.S. He told motoring magazine Auto Express that VW should commit to a greener future to make up for its emissions crisis. Speaking at the opening of Tesla’s first factory outside of the U.S. in Tilburg, Netherlands, Musk said: ‘If I was taking over VW, I’d go the other way and aim to be a leader [in clean vehicles].’ He added: ‘All car companies will go electric eventually. Any car company that doesn’t go electric will be out of business.’ At the factory opening, Musk also confirmed that a UK development base was still on the cards.
‘There’s a good likelihood of an engineering base in the UK,’ he said. ‘We should be starting to look at locations in the UK next year.’ ?
The wait is nearly over for the first official sighting of the new topless Range Rover Evoque. But, as a teaser, Land Rover placed a collection of full-size Range Rover Evoque Convertible ‘wireframe’ sculptures around the capital this week.
They appeared outside London landmarks, including Harrods department store in Knightsbridge.
The sculptures, crafted from aluminium and finished in vibrant colours, were designed by Land Rover’s own team, using advanced computer modelling to outline the shape of the forthcoming Evoque Convertible. A spokesman for Land Rover said: ‘Each wireframe will now begin a global tour as Land Rover builds up to the introduction in November of the latest addition to the Range Rover family. ‘
All electric: Porsche’s Mission E
Porsche has unveiled a concept electric car you’ll never have to plug in. Mission E charges using conductive tiles that the owner simply drives over. Using the same sort of technology that charges some mobile phones, the car absorbs the electric current through induction rather than via fixed wire.
Porsche boasts it has all-wheel drive and allwheel steering, acceleration from rest to 62 mph in under 3.5 seconds and a charging time of about 15 minutes to reach an 80 per cent charge.
‘The car combines the unmistakable design of a Porsche with excellent performance and the forward-thinking practicality of the first 800-volt drive system,’ a Porsche spokesman said as the car was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The car will have an innovative dashboard with instruments operated by ‘eye-tracking and gesture control, some even via holograms’. The dashboard displays will even automatically adjust to the driver’s position.
Two permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSM) accelerate the car and recover braking energy. Together the two motors produce more than 600hp – about the same as six Ford Fiestas – and they propel the Mission E to a speed of 62mph in less than 3.5 seconds and to 124mph in under 12 seconds.
The firm boasts this makes the car fit for the race track; its lap time on the Nurburgring Nordschleife is under the eight-minute mark. However, it still lags behind the latest Tesla electric car.
Porsche claims the Mission E can travel more than 300 miles on one battery charge, and it can be charged with enough energy for about 240 miles more driving range in about 15 minutes.