“We’ve got a rocketship next door, and you know as Governor Moonbeam that I like rocketships,” quipped California Governor Jerry Brown, at the introduction of the upcoming 2014 Tesla Model S, gesturing toward the big SpaceX facility next door to Tesla’s Southern California Design Center. “But I also like electric cars.”
Just as Brown has (especially in earlier days) been a political idealist and outlier, Tesla is boldly forging itself a following (and a market), and plenty of interest from the affluent green set, whether or not the mainstream is ready to jump aboard yet.
Falcon wings, faster than a 911
The new, all-electric Tesla Model X crossover, which was introduced on stage by Tesla CEO Elon Musk (also the man behind SpaceX), isn’t exactly a step toward the mass market. But it does take on premium utility vehicles with three rows of seating for up to seven, better maneuverability than a Mini Cooper, and a 0-60 mph time of just 4.4 seconds—that’s faster than a Porsche 911, Musk jeered.
But the real oohs and ahs of the evening came when Musk showed the Model X’s much-anticipated ‘falcon doors’—essentially gullwing rear doors, behind normal hinged front doors.
A secondary motion in the falcon doors’ action allows them to open in a way that keeps them very close to the side of the vehicle—requiring no additional garage or parking width. And as soon as you step onto the low floor and attempt to get into the third-row seat—as we captured Musk doing on stage with the following three frames, we see the point: