Tesla would like all eyes to focus on its 2012 Model S electric sport sedan this week.

But there's a second model lurking in the background: the 2013 or 2014 Tesla Model X crossover, the next vehicle to use the platform that underlies the Model S.

A lot of information has emerged in bits and pieces over the years about the Model X. We chatted with Tesla executives and staff about their next vehicle, and here's the list of what we know--and what we suspect:

[UPDATE: Tesla Motors says it will officially unveil the Model X crossover in the first quarter of 2012 2013, and show off its new southern California design studio at the same time. CEO Elon Musk has been quoted as saying the company will show it to a select audience--presumably owners and strong prospects--before the end of the year. ]

We know for sure that ...

  • The 2013  or 2014 Tesla Model X crossover will be unveiled in the first quarter of 2012 at the Los Angeles Auto Show in mid-November
  • Tesla will show the Model X to an invited audience before the end of this year
  • The vehicle will carry "seven full-size adults" in three full rows of seating, unlike the optional pair of child-sized jump seats in the rear of the Model S hatchback sedan
  • The Model X will have the same level of luxury as the Model S
  • Tesla hopes to sell up to 15,000 Model X vehicles a year, as Musk said in an August earnings call
  • The Model X will "incorporate the functionality of a minivan with the consumer appeal of a sports-utility vehicle," according to Tesla's SEC filings
  • In June, Tesla raised an additional $210 million to fund Model X development and related projects

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

We suspect that ...

  • The Model X will cost as much as, or more than, the Model S
  • Its platform will have a longer wheelbase than the Model S sedan
  • The Tesla crossover will offer all-wheel drive, though we can't say whether it will be standard or optional

Speaking at a Cleantech summit in February, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Model X was destined to be the “coolest SUV” on the market. Given that most Tesla buyers likely have three or four cars in their household, it seems a logical line extension.

Tesla IPO presentation via Retail Roadshow

Tesla IPO presentation via Retail Roadshow

The first hints of the Model X's existence came in June 2010, with the release of slides from the company’s IPO presentation. Soon afterward, Musk confirmed that an electric SUV, dubbed the Model X, would arrive for 2014.

The Model X and other derivatives of the Model S platform, including a convertible, will be followed in three or four years by a new, higher-volume electric car that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] hopes to price around $30,000.

The Fremont, California, plant has oceans of assembly space available for that vehicle and others, which might forego the aluminum construction of the Model S--at least in parts--for less-expensive pressed steel.


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