After nearly two years of delay, Tesla Motors' chief executive Elon Musk handed the first of the electric car company's new Model X crossovers to customers Tuesday night at a ceremony near the company's Fremont, Calif., factory.
The sales mark the first time the Palo Alto, Calif., car company will have two models on the market at the same time. The company already sells the Model S electric sports sedan. Additionally, Tesla is developing the Model 3, a compact electric car.
Tesla has not released many details or even the final pricing of the Model X, but that hasn't stopped the automaker's passionate followers from putting deposits on the car. According to the Tesla Motors Club blog, the company already has nearly 32,000 orders for the vehicle. Each reservation requires a $5,000 deposit.
Musk has said that with the same options, the Model X would cost about $5,000 more than the S because of its larger size and body complexity. The rear-wheel-drive base model of the S with a 70-kilowatt-hour battery and 230-mile range starts at $70,000 before any federal and state incentives for electric cars.
The electric car company plans to offer a fully loaded Signature Series version of the Model X for $132,000.
Tesla originally said it would start manufacturing the Model X at the end of 2013, with sales to start in 2014, but the program is behind schedule. The delay occurred, in part, because Tesla could not use many of the same parts for both the X and the S, Musk said.
The Model X, designed at Tesla's studio in the Los Angeles area, will fit seven adults in three rows of seats, the automaker said. It will use Tesla's flat battery pack, positioned on the underside of the vehicle. That clears space in the cabin and also allows for a second trunk under the hood. It will be the only fully electric crossover on the market.
"It is a beautiful car. I am a big fan of the design they have chosen. It doesn't look like anything else in the market," said Anton Wahlman, an independent analyst and investor in Palo Alto, who has seen the Model X as the automaker tested the crossover on local roads.
The crossover is noteworthy for its distinctive "falcon wing" doors that fold up rather than swing out, a tricky design Wahlman said will make the vehicle stand out in the crowded luxury crossover market as long as they work correctly.
"They are in uncharted territory," he said.