Are The Falcon-Wing Doors Holding Up The Tesla Model X?



In last week’s quarterly report, Elon Musk admitted that Tesla Model X production might be pushed back. Are the falcon-wing doors holding up the Model X? Or is the extra weight of the Model X and its all-wheel drive system reducing range too much for customer expectations?

No doubt, the falcon-wing doors are one of the coolest features of the Model X, able to open up in the same amount of space as standard doors, but with better accessibility. However, as members of the r/teslamotors subreddit are quick to note, the falcon-wing doors stand in the way of utilizing roof racks that buyers of SUVs are want to utilize. While many members of the tesla subreddit are quick to point out that roof racks also adversely affect aerodynamics and thus, range, the whole point Tesla is trying to make is that its electric cars are no-compromise vehicles.

It isn’t just roof racks that are causing issues with the Model X. Elon Musk has gone on record as saying that getting the falcon-wing doors to properly seal against wind and rain is proving difficult, and that it is “damn hard” to design a beautiful-yet-functional SUV. Then there’s the issue of weight. The Tesla Model S is a hefty car, coming in at between 4,400 and 4,700 pounds (give or take), and even with an aluminum body and chassis the Model X is likely to tip the scales at close to 5,000 pounds. Even with a 85 kWh battery pack, the Model X might be struggling to exceed even 250 miles of range. Add to that the extra weight and decreased efficiency of the standard all-wheel drive system, and the Model X might be suffering from range anxiety of its own.

Of course that’s nothing that a larger battery pack can’t fix, though the roof rack thing might be a bigger issue to resolve. Still, the fact that the Tesla Model X has been conspicuously absent from the auto show circuit this year isn’t exactly encouraging news. As it stands, volume production is tentatively slated to begin the second quarter of 2015, with the first design prototypes completed by the end of the year. Hopefully this is the last delay before Tesla’s next big vehicle debut, as there are a lot of people waiting for their Model X.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • 97898752

    I have a simple solution , start building Pick Up Trucks sooner, much easier to do than the X and there is just as much demand for a Tesla truck as there is an X and I would be happy to convert my model X reservation to a Model T order in an instant.

  • J_JamesM

    The “Falcon Wing” doors are an adorable concept, but they gotta go. Ditch them entirely, or make it an (extremely expensive) option and just give the damn car normal doors.

  • QKodiak

    An all-electric AWD system does not reduce efficiency anymore than having an extra passenger does. In this, the article author is incorrect. There should be an option to have “normal” doors with the falcon wing doors as standard. They could just make the “normal” doors larger than normal. The Tesla Model X will have a 10% reduced range which means the 60kWh Model X with a 188-mile range might have a difficult time utilizing the Supercharger network in the dead of winter. The 85kWh Model X will do just fine with 238 miles of range. Maybe they’ll add a few more battery cells and make 70kWh and 90kWh battery packs for the Model X. The extra weight is not really an issue. Why does everyone keep bringing it up? The 2014 Audi Q7 TDI weighs 5,567 lbs, and it does just fine. The Inifiniti QX80 AWD weighs 5,878 lbs. The Cadillac Escalade tips the scales at 5,840 lbs. The Tesla Model X is supposed to weigh much less than these. I really hope that Tesla starts to add competitive features to their vehicles such as a HUD, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure assist, cross-traffic sensors, and automatic crash avoidance systems. Almost every other vehicle in this price range offers these things as options.

    • Joe Viocoe

      having two separate production lines would be needed for such an option. Having up the costs for everything. That may work for a model that is already produced on multiple lines in multiple locations and with a large overall volume. But the model X can only afford to have options which are superficial to manufacture.

      • QKodiak

        They already have multiple production lines for the Model S. Having one or two more for the Model X is a no brainer.

  • Robert Fahey

    What’s delaying it? Innovation and the agita that goes with it. Undoubtedly the X would already be in production if Tesla settled for just a tallish Model S with normal doors. But Musk will have none of that milquetoast, and good for him.