Tesla Model X prototype in Culver City, California [photo by Instagram user jmtibs]Enlarge Photo
Whenever Tesla Motors holds a conference call to discuss its financial results, its webcast is mobbed by journalists, financial analysts, and fans.
So it was yesterday, when the electric-car maker broadcast its 2015 annual shareholders meeting.
As always, a few pieces of news emerged--the most important being that the Tesla Model X all-electric SUV remains on track to launch three to four months from now.
That is roughly consistent with the company's previous forecast for deliveries of the crossover utility vehicle late in the third quarter of this year (July through September).
Musk's statement, from the Seeking Alpha call transcript, runs as follows:
So with the Model X, the long-awaited Model X, we’re expecting to begin our first deliveries in probably about three months or four months.
And as with the software, I am looking at the latest iteration of the Model X every week. And it really is -- it’s turning out to be a really great car. I think the Model X may arguably be a better SUV than the Model S is as a sedan. So that I think is really exciting.
Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto Show
Tesla Model X at 2013 Detroit Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
We want to make sure, obviously, that some of the key features of the Model X--particularly the "Falcon Wing" door and the way ... the second row seats are done and a few other things that people unaware of--are done just right, and provide true functionality and true value improvements versus just sort of feeling gimmicky.
It’s got to be a genuine improvement in utility and esthetics I think for to be right.
So getting those final nuances right for the Model X is what we’re focused on right now. But we’re really in the short starts with getting this to market.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We have slightly edited the wording to make Musk's statement more readable and correct possible transcription errors.]
Other news from the annual meeting included an announcement that Tesla's chief financial officer, Deepak Apuja, would retire this year.
Apuja joined the company in 2008, just as the two-seat electric Roadster was struggling onto the market, and has been with Tesla Motors ever since.
Tesla Model X testing on California road, Mar 2015 [Twitter: ModelXnews]Enlarge Photo
Musk also revealed that he is testing the company's prototype Autopilot feature, consisting of software that processes data from a forward-looking radar, various cameras, and 360-degree ultrasonic sensors that extend about 5 meters (roughly 16 feet) around the car.
When implemented, the system will let suitably equipped Model S and Model X cars pilot themselves at highway speeds under certain conditions. Automatic parking will be part of the package as well.
In fact, I have typically two or three builds per week that I’m testing in my car. We’re making gradual progress towards what I’d say is a releasable bit of software. But it is quite a tricky thing and we want to make sure that our testing is exhaustive before we release the software.
But if we keep making progress, I think we may be able to get it out to all the 'access' customers, which is sort of our public beta program, around the end of this month.
Stay tuned for more on that release and testing process.