Tesla takes wraps off "falcon-winged" Model X SUV

Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:02am EST
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By Edwin Chan

HAWTHORNE, California (Reuters) - Tesla Motors Inc on Thursday showed off a prototype of its Model X, a battery-powered SUV that represents the company's bet that consumers will buy a range of electric vehicles spun from a common platform.

The Model X, which features what the company calls "falcon-wing" doors and faster acceleration than a Porsche 911 -- it goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds -- will start production late 2013 and begin delivery in 2014.

Tesla begins taking reservations at noon on Friday for the characteristically sleek vehicle resembling a taller version of its Model S sedan, but with a folding door hinged on the roof.

CEO Elon Musk touted his latest electric vehicle as cramming in more space than a typical sport utility vehicle. It seats seven, with ample storage.

"Minivans and SUV have been trying for years to overcome these problem," the entrepreneur told a rowdy crowd. Musk didn't lose his cool even when the front trunk -- or "frunk" -- stubbornly refused to open in the middle of his demonstration.

Tesla -- which has never made a profit -- hopes to create a buzz with Thursday night's event, which featured a smattering of lesser-known celebrities, a buffet spread and an open bar, with hundreds of guests milling across a hangar-sized space at the company's California design engineering offices.

The well-heeled guests were offered a chance to be first in line for the Model X, sales of which will follow a reservations-and-delivery template much like the preceding sedan.

While flashy car debuts are a staple of the auto industry, nine-year-old Tesla tracks and reports the number of reservations for upcoming models as a benchmark for investors.   Continued...

<p>People look at the Tesla Motors Model X electric vehicle at its unveiling at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California February 9, 2012. REUTERS/David McNew</p>