Can Tesla’s Model X Shake Up the Crossover Segment?

One of the biggest gripes over electric cars must be their small and impractical size. Most models to reach the mass market have been hatchbacks, and for some, even the title “hatchback” is a bit generous. While Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S has certainly raised the bar for size, it’s the company’s next project that will really put the myth of a “practical electric car” to rest.

Originally slated for delivery later this year, Tesla’s Model X crossover was pushed back to a 2014 delivery date to accommodate production for the Model S.

Tesla Model X

Significantly, the Model X will boast a four-wheel-drive drive-train, using two electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles. It will also feature a set of “falcon wings”  in the back, which open up in such a way so as to allow the X to park in slim spaces and not have to worry about whacking the door on another car, or another obstacle.

The outside draws many cues from the Model S — and that’s a good thing, given how sleek and appealing the sedan is. The Model X keeps the sharpened, ovular headlamps and a similar grill, though the latter is stretched a bit to make up for the car’s higher format. More importantly, the X boasts more ground clearance than the S — very handy if driving on a dirt road, or if one encounters a brutally massive speed bump on a frequent basis.

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Of course, the main selling point of the Model X is that it provides all the space and comfort of a crossover in a gasoline-free package. Inside, the X features the same 17-inch touchscreen control panel that’s found in the Model S, and the falcon wing doors allow for more comfortable entry (“You easily step, not climb, into Model X”). The CUV boasts third-row seating, and the company says “adults find the third-row seats as accessible as the passenger seat.”

The Model X will compete with Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Highlander, Ford’s (NYSE:F) Escape, and the Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Equinox, among many others — a crucial segment in the automotive industry right now. As gas prices swell, a mass exodus has been taking place as people trade in their full-size SUVs for more economically-sized models that offer similar features, but are easier at the pump. The big question now is, when the Model X is released next year, will the market have room for another contender or already be too saturated?

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