The Tesla Model X Reveal Experience: Part 1




The Model X Reveal Experience - Part 1


Friday, Feb 10, 2012  (updated Feb 11, 2012)
by Max Mindel

Last night, I had the privilege of being among the first to see the Tesla Model X.  The event was as exciting as one could expect from a new Tesla vehicle reveal.  The anticipation was invigorating, the buzz was motivating, and the actual viewing of the Model X was mesmerizing.  This was no regular evening.  After all, we were all there to watch Tesla Motors once again show us a glimpse of the future while we all again became part of another historically significant event. 

I went to this event with two new friends I had connected with through; DeDe Ebner from San Jose and Rob Dekker from T2 in the Netherlands (Holland), and also my twin brother, Sam. 

As we approached the Space X building we could see what looked like a large airplane hanger with large Tesla branding on its side.   The Space X building greeted us and created a tone in reminding us that we were about to see technology and creativity at its best.  We drove down a corridor lined with lights fit for a hollywood premiere, and then valet parked the Infiniti I was driving.  We arrived at just past 6:00pm, early enough that only a few guests had arrived.  While we waited, we met other guests, and watched as a variety of Tesla Roadsters made their way slowly to the Tesla preferred parking area that was immediately adjacent to the area where we were waiting. 

Several Roadsters caught my eye.  There was a black one that belonged to a gentleman by the name of Michael.  His Roadster was tastefully accented with a small Batman logo on its dash.  In my conversation with him, I learned that the sound of the Tesla Roadster motor, was in fact amplified, and used in as the sound for the Batmobile in the last Batman movie, The Dark Night.  There was one other Roadster that particularly caught my eye because it had a gorgeous red paint job that differed from anything I had previously seen.  I had not seen the Model S in signature red, so I wondered if this was the same color.  If it was, I could understand all the rave.

We went to check in and of course the hosts were sporting and accommodating the check-in procedure with the technology of our time; each by using an Apple iPad.  Check-in was quick, easy, and painless.

The time finally came, and we walked by a red carpet with a Model X backdrop that was suited well enough for an Academy award gathering.  This made the event feel even more special.  As we entered a room, we were greeted by a Signature Red Model S.  It was at that moment that it all clicked.  The red of that roadster was very much like as the red on this Model S.  I then at that moment recalled having a conversation with Adam Sussler, Manager of the  Tesla Store in Los Angeles.  He told me that the “Signature Red” was spectacular and I told him, I just didn’t see why.  Now I suddenly and completely understood all of the hoopla regarding the “Signature Red” color on the
Model S, because I was mesmerized.  It was love at first sight!  Previous to this, I had only seen the “Signature Red” color in photographs and in videos, and I’m not sure why, but even to the left of this gorgeous car, was a mural-sized photo of this Signature Red Model S, and like all pictures I had seen prior to this, it simply could not capture the impressive pop-out quality of the actual paint job itself.  It’s clear the Model S was born to be in this color. 

I wasn’t the only one who came upon this realization either.  In my previous conversations with Rob Dekker, we had discussed how we both had an intent of choosing the Shasta Pearl White for our Model S’. But as I glanced over at him to see if he too was “carstruck”, he smiled, looked over at me and said in his dutch accent, “Well, I guess its going to be have to be Signature red instead”.   Yep, he was sold too.

As we made our way past the entryway, we entered a huge room, and I then realized were inside the airplane hangar.  But this was no ordinary airplane hangar.  It was laid out impeccably, and as I walked in, the upbeat background music that filled my ears and the layout of the room made it clear that we were all here for something very special.  Normally a room of this immense size would feel cold and uninviting, but the further I entered, the more I was drawn in to a space that the nevertheless felt warm and welcoming.

Speaking of welcoming, I was welcomed by none other than Franz Von Holzhausen, the creative genius that designed the body on the Model S and X.  He welcomed me to the design center and made me truly feel at home.  To pass the time we wandered around, took another close look at the
Model S, and then ended up in the design studio room that displayed all of the colors available for the Model S as well as all of the interior materials.  Since I had not opted for the Signature version of the Model S, I found myself studying the alternate “Muir red” color that would become available in 2013.  Then I looked at another panel in the room and saw that I was looking at an interior design element using a brown wood called, Wenge (with which I was familiar). I thought, “wait, this isn’t black-stained lacewood!;  are they now offering a brown-tone Wenge wood in the Model S as well?”  A nanosecond later, I glanced at the text on the panel and realized that I was looking at the interior materials for the Model X, not the Model S!  I explored the color choices and the fabrics and interior materials including a brushed aluminum that looked stunning.

The actual Model X reveal was scheduled for 8:00pm and it was 7:52pm, so we all headed over to the stage to get ready for the unexpected.  There was one thing we knew, and DeDe, who was there in hopes of liking the Model X put it beautifully.  She said, “There is no way they were going to mess up the design of the X considering the design they had come up with for the Model S.”

As the clocked hit 8:00pm, George Blakenship, Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing, paced around and then ultimately began to speak.  Incidentally, he is a very approachable and friendly individual with an interesting career history (did anyone say Apple store pioneer?) and one goal in mind.  He wants anyone who visits a Tesla store to leave with a smile.   That sure pushes the envelope on that old pushy car salesperson approach that we all love to hate.  As he began to speak, he let us know that today there were guests present from 30 different states, and 18 different countries.  We also then became aware that we were actually in one of the buildings of the Los Angeles design and engineering studios.  He spoke about how much Tesla and all of its employees love California, and then introduced Governor Jerry Brown.    Governor Brown said, “We can work our way out of our mess with creativity, openness and the kind of sprit that is willing to take risk and not get bogged down...”, and people cheered.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors was then introduced, and within seconds thereafter, blinding headlights peered onto the stage and not until the car began to rotate, did it become obvious that this was a red Model S, not yet the Model X, that had been driven onto the stage.  Out of the the passenger side came out Musk, and as he did, he received applaud and cheering fit for a hero. 

He welcomed us all and began to explain “Why did we create Tesla”.  He spoke about making a difference, Tesla goals, and about their milestones, and how the mission of Tesla was not just to make an electric car, but to make the most compelling car that just happens to be electric.  He answered a question that is one I often hear.  Many people say, “what’s the difference in using an electric car, your electric company still produces CO2 in creating electricity for you to use in your electric car.  He revealed that in California, for example, driving an electric car would produce about 25% of the CO2 a gasoline car would produce, and showed data from the worse case state, West Virginia, which was 75% CO2 production with the best state being Vermont at 1%.  It wasn’t the CO2 that the car produced that he was referring to because it directly produces none, but rather, what the quantity of CO2 is produced in the creation of electricity in each of those states.  As he spoke, he threw in a couple puns and was quite funny and modest too.  In regards to the Roadster, he said, “It looks pretty good.”

Before introducing the the Model X, he spoke about how SUVs and minivans have offered functionality and style, using the Dodge Caravan and the Audi Q7 as his points of reference.  But never before had this vehicle category been offered with performance; until now, that is.  Then as another pair of headlights came looming out onto the stage the Model X had emerged!  It  then it stopped and began slowly rotating from the pivoting platform that it had descended on.  This gave us the opportunity to see it from multiple views as it gently spun around.  What first impressed me as it did its 360, was how similar it looked to the Model S.  It seemed like a beefier version of the S.  It was almost like an SUV/Minivan crossover that looked like a regular car since it didn’t have its traditional boxier styling.  It was in fact, very sporty and beautiful in its own right. 

As Musk made reference to the its most unique feature--the falcon doors, the rear doors opened in the same way a a large bird of prey would proudly spread its wings on its back.  At that moment it was clear, that Tesla had created another game changer that would change our perceptions and expectations of all future cars forever after.

From the car emerged 7 people, including the driver, Franz Von Holzhausen, Chief Designer.  The passengers all exited quickly and no one appeared to be folding down or sliding any seats forward to enable the passengers in the furthest back row of seats to exit.  The back of the “X” was then opened and from it was removed an immense amount of luggage.  This car certainly had plenty of cargo space even with none of its seats folded down.  This car accommodates 7 adults and Musk demonstrated the ease of entry and exit from the back row as well as the headroom one had when stepping into the car before entering it.  He demonstrated too how it had two electric motors, not one, to provide AWD (all wheel drive) and performance of 0-60 at 4.4 seconds, beating the performance of a Porsche 911 at 4.6 seconds.  He closed by saying that orders could be placed tomorrow at Noon, and said, ”but you can order one tonight.”

We were then invited to come up on stage and see the Model X up close.  But getting up close and personal was pretty much impossible with the huge crowd that surrounded it.   But I knew I’d get my opportunity later than night.  It felt like the evening had just begun and I knew that as the night progressed I was going to have many more experiences among which ultimately would include a ride in the Model X.