Tesla's Model X has been a long time coming - the company has been accepting orders for years now, but only started deliveries in the last few weeks. The car is eighteen months late getting to customers - ostensibly because the company wanted to focus on deliveries of its Model S. Or so it claimed.
However, when I look at the car I have to ask if the technology used actually caused the delays and I also have to question the reasons for those technologies.
For example, the Falcon doors. They look interesting and do achieve their stated aim of making it easier to access the second and third row of seats, but how are they superior to a sliding door? The truth is they aren't and from an engineering viewpoint they look very wrong. Cutting away such a large chunk of the roof rail can't help structural rigidity. Did they reject a proven solution purely to showboat?
Another question, why does the driver's door have to sense you and open automatically? If you walk past your door in your garage at home at you going to be swiped by an opening driver's door? What about if you approach from a different angle than normal - will it still sense your approach. What's wrong with a door handle, or if you really don't want customers to touch their cars, a button on the remote?
The push button to move the second row of seats forwards and backwards to provide rear seat access is a reasonable innovation. However given the likely low frequency of usage (for most buyers) is it really worth the expense, weight and complexity?
In short this isn't a car that has been designed to hit a low price point. Or to appeal to a wide demographic. It isn't likely to 'accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport' and it isn't even sound engineering. By simplifying the design I don't doubt that Tesla could have got this car to market much earlier.
So why do it?
Was it just an Elon Musk vanity project? Or has all this intelligence been built in because Tesla is building towards an autonomous self-driving car? Is Tesla setting itself up to challenge Uber by building the taxi, the service and the driver?
If it were, then the Model X is the car that it would use to do it. Seven seats, lots of luggage space and even the ability to self fuel once Tesla rolls out its self-connecting charging rig.
It even explains the ridiculous doors, or it does if they plan on naming the service Johnny Cab.