After many years of delays, Tesla has finally released its new Model X SUV to the public–and the car sure is worth the wait.
The luxury electric vehicle made its debut at a splashy unveiling inside Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. Visitors queued up to take test drives, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk–ever the showman–arranged to have several Model X vehicles driven onstage; one of them even hauled an Airstream travel trailer past the crowd to show off the car’s 5,000-pound towing capacity.
“We want to show any kind of car can go electric,” Musk said onstage. “We showed it with sports cars and sedans in the past, and now we’re showing it with SUVs.” The Model X’s most whizbang features include accelerating up to 60 miles per hour in just over three seconds, extra storage space where the car engine would typically be, DeLorean-style “Falcon Wing” doors that automatically adjust their opening span to tight parking spots, and even a “bioweapon defense mode” button that will allegedly keep the air inside the car as clean as a hospital room. In other words: This is an SUV that feels like a sports car when you drive it and has the built-in gizmos to match.
Onstage, Musk made frequent references to the SUV’s safety; it’s one of the safest SUVs ever constructed, as per U.S. government benchmarks, which gives a pretty solid clue as to how Tesla will market the cars in the future.
That said, the Model X has a staggering price tag. The fully-loaded version of the car, which was made available on Tuesday to a select group of customers that forked over a down payment, costs about $132,000. According to Musk, the car’s base pricing will start at about $5,000 more than the equivalent Model S car–which means the cheapest Model X will likely run about $80,000.
The Model X could, however, take up to a year to reach new customers. Musk said customers who place their orders now likely won’t receive their cars until the second half of 2016.