2016 Tesla Model XEnlarge Photo
Given Elon Musk's habit of revealing snippets of information when he talks, electric-car advocates, owners, and industry analysts pore over any live event at which the Tesla Motors CEO presents.
On June 1, the Silicon Valley carmaker held its annual shareholder meeting, which clocked in at a remarkable three and a half hours.
Among many topics covered at the event, Musk discussed the continuing challenges related to the "falcon doors" of the pricey and complex Tesla Model X electric crossover SUV, its newest vehicle.
Musk said that the company has been working hard on the software that operates the four doors of the Model X, and will release a pair of updates to it.
While some early Model X buyers have reported problems with the fit of the front or rear doors, a larger number has found the falcon doors to be somewhat unpredictable in operation.
The East Coast owner of a Model X P90D we tested recently, for instance, has perfectly fitting doors—but acknowledged that they don't always open as expected.
2016 Tesla Model XEnlarge Photo
The problems stem from a network of sensors in the doors that provide data on their immediate surroundings, so they don't open into ceilings above, people next to them, or other objects.
Musk called the sensor operation and the control software "incredibly difficult to refine," and took full responsibility for the many Model X challenges the company has encountered.
“I need to fault myself for a little bit of hubris for putting too much technology all at once into a product,” he said.
ALSO SEE: Why Tesla Model X Electric SUV Is Late: Range, Towing, 'Falcon Doors' (Feb 2015)
Musk continued, describing the doors' operation as "a software problem," and enumerating the many challenges of developing those programs.
“How do you interpret all the information from the sensors? What should you remember? What shouldn’t you remember? How should you open the door in different circumstances, if you’re in a low ceiling or a narrow situation?" he asked.
"If the sensor is giving erroneous feedback, when is the right time to ignore the sensor? Digging ourselves out of the hole has been quite, quite hard.”
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
The company has already sent out one software update to the Model X, allowing all four doors to open or close simultaneously (a capability offered by every other SUV on sale).
Two additional updates, one later this month and one next month, will further refine the operations of the sensors.
Once they are distributed, Musk said, “Finally we’ll be at the point where the doors are better than normal doors, as opposed to worse."
But, he said, "I think we’re almost there in making the doors useful."
Another piece of news from the marathon meeting got more attention last week than the Model X door problems, however.
That was Musk's suggestion that buyers of its future Model 3 would have to pay some undetermined amount to use the company's growing network of Supercharger DC fast-charging sites.
Early buyers of lower-range versions of its 2012 Model S sedan paid $2,500 for the Supercharging capability, but more recently it has come standard on that vehicle.
Tesla Model 3 Driving on a Public RoadEnlarge Photo
The Model 3 sedan was unveiled at the end of March, and Tesla says it will go into production during the second half of 2017.
The company says it has received 380,000 deposits of $1,000 apiece from buyers around the world to reserve the 200-mile, $35,000 electric car.
For those who want to watch the entire event, Tesla has a video webcast of the entire June 1 shareholders meeting on its website.