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Tesla Model X makes Australian debut

Model citizen: Two left-hand-drive examples of the Tesla Model X SUV have landed in Australia for customer evaluation.

A pair of left-hand-drive Model X SUVs arrive to tempt Tesla buyers


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24 Aug 2016

TESLA Australia has imported a duo of left-hand-drive Model X variants in an attempt to demonstrate its abilities and woo potential customers at an event this week, ahead of the electric large SUV’s local arrival late this year.

Order books for the four-tier Model X line-up – consisting of the $111,900 60D, $125,000 75D, $143,000 90D and $172,100 P90D, all plus on-road costs and luxury car tax (LCT) – have opened with an online configurator advising customers of delivery dates set to go live this week.

Speaking at the event held in Sydney, Tesla Australia senior marketing and communications manager Heath Walker firstly confirmed that pricing would be for the five-seat Model X, with the six- and seven-seat versions optional.

“Five (seats) is standard, six is optional and seven is an even greater option,” he told GoAuto at the event, but declined to reveal the pricing of the extra pews.

“I would suggest the majority would go for the larger seat options in terms of those configurations, and I think that’s what’s going to differentiate between the two product offerings (Model S and Model X) besides their shape and style.”

It was expected, however, that the Model X would outsell the existing Model S in Australia without cannibalising the sedan’s sales, according to Mr Walker.

“We don’t think (there will be cannibalisation), they’re two separate markets,” he argued.

“Most people will be one or the other and we’re seeing that in the orders to date. A lot of people have just been waiting for this (Model X), which is a surprise because the Model S offers a lot of what’s in (it) but … it’s the ride height that is the real difference.

“I’m no forecaster but I’d suggest just based on industry figures the luxury SUV market is five times larger than sedans, so the demand generally for SUVs in this country is like a graph that’s going straight up.”

While the first right-hand-drive examples of the Model X will arrive for customers later this year, Mr Walker confirmed that for people ordering an SUV today, “expected delivery is Q2 (April to June, 2017)”.

He said the Model X would follow the Model S and offer a similar equipment level across all four model grades, a position he defended despite a price difference of more than $60,000 between the cheapest and most expensive model grade.

“There has been some articles recently that (say) we should put every option in, but what I think we do really well at Tesla is give the customer full control over their purchasing decisions,” he continued.

“If I want Autopilot and leather and that’s all I really need and want, that allows me to buy the car at a cheaper price and get into the vehicle. We want people to get into these vehicles as easily as possible.”

Standard equipment on all Model Xs includes side collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors, full LED headlights, power-folding door mirrors, automatic keyless auto-entry, electric tailgate, and 20-inch alloy wheels – with up to 22s optional.

The Model X P90D range toppers – at least until the P100D is added in 2017 – were on display in Sydney this week, featuring six- or seven-seat capability, and they were also fitted with several options including the largest wheels.

Three features fitted that form part of a range-wide optional Luxury Package included auto-close front doors, swiveling headlights and a Bioweapon Defense Mode that within two minutes reduces cabin pollutants by 99.9 per cent, claimed to meet medical grade standards.

Built on an enlarged version of the same ‘skateboard’ chassis as the Model S, the Model X similarly features a ‘frunk’ or front trunk in addition to a rear compartment with a maximum 2180-litre volume.

The most notable design feature – the Falcon Wing doors – open upwards first, then out, using sensors to adapt its movement to side surroundings.

It is able to be opened within 30cm of another vehicle, or a driver is able to use the optional Summon function to leave the vehicle and allow it to automatically park itself via a phone app – which recently became available on the Model S.

An expansive panoramic windscreen replaces the panoramic sunroof of the Model S, while the Model X gets an identical dashboard and 17.0-inch colour touchscreen, only with rear door functions replacing the roof movement button.

The view up front is notably airier and the seating position higher compared with the low-slung Model S. Access to the centre row is impressive, with competitive legroom for passengers who score twin USB ports and air vents.

The centre seats are also of the ‘floating’ variety, permitting passengers to tuck their legs under the squab.

An electrically operated sliding mechanism permits access to the optional third row, which is most notable for its benchmark access – the Falcon Wing doors allow even a six-foot person to stand upright in the car without cowering down.

While third-row legroom and headroom is average, the seats themselves are comfortable and there are both centre cupholders and C-pillar-mounted airvents.

The flat-pack underfloor battery pack and lack of an exhaust system allows the cargo area to feature a false floor and extremely deep compartment underneath.

A brief passenger lap around a carpark in the Model X P90D highlighted the same surefooted stability and extremely quick responses as the Model S variant of the same name, although the 2468kg large SUV did feel floaty over one undulation.

When a Ludicrous option package is ticked, the 397kW/967Nm P90D accelerates 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds while – as the name indicates – its 90kWh battery pack permits the same 470km between recharges as the 346kW/830Nm and 4.0s 0-100km/h P90D.

Tesla does not indicate sales to industry body VFACTS, however when asked which Model X would be the most popular variant, Mr Walker replied: “The highest percentage of orders since we launched have always been in the performance area.”

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