4 Lesser Known Facts About the Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X (copyright Tesla Motors)
Tesla Model X (copyright Tesla Motors)

The Tesla Model X is a 7-passenger, all-electric sport utility vehicle and has already been deemed the fastest (and cleanest) SUV on the planet. This second model from Tesla Motors (third if you count the limited production/availability Tesla Roadster) was introduced in late September and has promptly gone on sale.

While most of us won’t be able to afford this six-figure SUV even as less costly versions follow next year, we can only dream about owning one or at least seeing its falcon-wing doors in action. Lots of information about the Model X has been dispensed over the past few weeks, including the following lesser known facts.

1. Your Model X may protect you from a bioweapon. Or not.

It has been said that paranoia is a destroyer (with apologies to the Kinks). But what if THEY are really out to get you? Well, Tesla Motors thought about that problem when crafting the Model X.

Specifically, a button located on the dashboard when activated is designed to protect you and your passengers from pollution, viruses and bacteria. Inscribed with the international symbol for biological hazard, medical grade air filters are activated to provide life-saving protection.

But that claim has been disputed with Gizmodo calling out Elon Musk. Although any HEPA filter will protect against bacteria agents such as anthrax or the plague du jour, it won’t stop viruses, which are too small to be caught by such filters. Yes, the Model X’s filters probably do provide hundreds of times the filtering capacity of standard filters, but they’re not perfect. If someone is intent on doing you harm, they will probably find a way even with a variety of aftermarket modifications accomplished.

2. It has fewer parking problems than conventional vehicles. But not in all circumstances.

it happens. You open your car door and you ding the one next to you. If the scratch is minimal, you move on. If you chip the paint and leave behind a dent certain to invite rust, you do your civic duty and leave a note with your insurance information on the windshield of the impacted car, right? Not a chance.

Tesla Motors certainly isn’t interested in being part of a problem, rather they’re interested in solutions. That’s why the falcon-wing doors have been carefully engineered to operate in the tightest places to ensure that you don’t pull off beltline trim or break the door windows of the vehicles next to you when activated. Tesla demonstrated the Model X’s special doors at the Big Reveal with an SUV parked on one side and a minivan on the other side. The doors pulled straight up and only sprouted their “wings” when they were safely above each vehicle’s contact points (see video posted to Popular Mechanics).

Oh, by the way, if you’re concerned that you’ll whack the roof of your garage when opening the doors, don’t worry — the doors are embedded with sensors to detect obstructions. One more thought: the front doors still open the traditional way — so much for parking in tight spaces unless you plan to slip out through the second row.

3. Part sharing for the Model X and Model S ranges from 30 to 60 percent.

Some people are under the impression that the Model X is entirely new from the ground up. But like so many other utility vehicles, this one shares many of its parts with a sedan variant, in this case the Model S.

Indeed, the Model X is derived from the same platform underpinning the Model S, but there are important differences that go beyond the falcon-wing doors. When you include the windshield, the true third row seat and a host of features that help support the added weight and the maneuverability requirements of any crossover, those differences emerge.

What isn’t known is the price percentage of the shared parts, with claims ranging anywhere from 30 to 60 percent. Parts sharing is more common than what some people think — it saves money and ensures engineering uniformity across model lines.

4. A $25,000 tax credit per vehicle is possible. More help for the rich.

Mostly everyone knows about the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit for eligible taxpayers. It rolled out in 2011 as consumers were taking delivery of the first Chevrolet Volts and Nissan Leafs. Eligible Tesla Model S owners have also taken advantage of the tax credit, to the chagrin of some who believe it helps the 1 percent.

If the $7,500 tax credit bothers you, than a review of Section 1709 of the federal tax code will have you steaming. Under that code, buyers of “sport utility and certain other vehicles” with a gross vehicle weight of at least 6,000 pounds and no more than 14,000 pounds, are eligible for a significant credit. The gross vehicle weight takes a model’s curb weight (5,441 pounds for the Model X) and adds in its payload. We don’t know the payload rating for the Model X yet, but figure it is at least 1,200 pounds to carry passengers. At over 6,600 pounds it falls within the Section 1709 requirements.

Now for the interesting news: business owners who purchase the Tesla Model X will be eligible to claim a $25,000 credit for each vehicle. Although $25,000 taken off of $132,000 for a launch vehicle isn’t as significant percentagewise, buyers of the base $80,000 vehicle will end up paying $55,000 for a high-end SUV. This provision has been in place since 2009, benefitting buyers of certain models such as the Hummer H3.

Hyping the Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X will likely sell itself, but that doesn’t mean the various vainglorious announcements and pronouncements made by Mr. Musk himself won’t be revered by Tesla faithful. In fact, that is something you can count on in addition to other surprises we’re certain to uncover.

See AlsoTesla Model X Unveiled and Explored

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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