Tesla Model X Continues To Fight Losing Battle Against Delays

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 63

Tesla Model X Concept

Tesla Model X Concept

Tesla Model X Concept

Tesla Model X Concept

These are the words nobody wishes to hear:

The launch of the Tesla Model X has been delayed.

In its Q1 earnings report, Tesla Motors tried to slip by a mention of the Model X as though it wasn’t delay-related, but it was fairly apparent:

“Extensive development work on Model X is underway and we expect to have production design prototypes ready in Q4.”

“Model X efforts are on track to ramp up production in the spring of 2015. We have just completed the final studio release of the vehicle. The tooling process has started with several suppliers …”

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

With design prototype not expected before Q4 2014, there’s almost no chance that even 1 Model X delivery will be made in 2014.  Previously, Tesla Motors had announced the following in regards to Model X production:

  • Limited production by end of 2014
  • Mass production by April 2015

Mass production by April 2015 is now “ramp up production in the spring of 2015,” which could imply as late as June 2015 or as early as March.  However, when an automaker goes from a specific month to a more vague by season (Spring, Summer, etc.) statement, that usually indicates a by the end of that season release.

Okay…now if we flashback even further, to say 2012, we see that the initial promised “Late 2013” launch of the Model X came and went.  So too did the early 2014 deliveries.

If we had to wager a guess on production, it would be that Tesla Motors will indeed begin limited Model X production in Q2 of 2015 and will slowly ramp up weekly output rates before hitting full production status by late 2015.

What’s your guess as to when the Model X will enter production and when it will hit full production status?  And will these timeline changes impact Tesla’s business and its would-be Model X owners?

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63 responses to "Tesla Model X Continues To Fight Losing Battle Against Delays"

  1. kdawg says:

    As long as Gen3 stays on schedule 🙂

    (sorry Model X’ers)

    1. GeorgeS says:

      even more important is the giga factory.

      1. arne-nl says:

        Model E and gigafactory are siamese twins. Neither can exist without the other.

    2. Brian says:

      Yeah, that’s not likely to happen. Every slip in the Model X timeline probably translates to the same or greater slip in Gen III timeline.

      I predict Model X will see another slip or two, but will ramp up by the end of 2015 – within about 18 months from now. Gen III won’t be delivered until 2017, and will take into 2018 to ramp up.

      1. Gibber says:

        Exactly Brian, Tesla is young and has limited engineering resources. A delay with this model means certain delay with the next.

        1. Rob Stark says:

          But Tesla’s engineering resources are not fixed.

          1. Mikael says:

            Nope, but they will most definitely have a hard core team of engineers working hard on the Model X now and that will be the hard core team that develops the “Model E” after that.
            There is no reason to try to get another brilliant team of engineers to start earlier on the “Model E”.

  2. David Murray says:

    I wonder what is taking so long. Doesn’t it share all of the important parts with the Model S anyway?

    1. Boris says:

      The falcon doors are to blame…

      1. GeorgeS says:

        @ Boris,

        That’s funny

        1. Spec9 says:

          No, it is not funny. Apparently they are having difficulty ensuring that they reliably seal up.

          I think they look cool and provide a way to get to the rear seats . . . but they might be more hassle than they are worth.

          1. Eric Loveday says:

            And you believe that?

            1. koz says:

              Don’t know about more hassle than they are worth but they are certainly full of development risk and take a lot of extra design time. They are probably worth the publicity and image appeal but I sure wish they would come out with a standard door version for $2K less and maybe even available sooner.

              1. Josh says:

                This feels like the same arguments against the door handles on the Model S. Now that they work well, they are pretty much a hit.

                The doors will be the same. If they make them work great, all the time, they will be a hit. If they don’t work well, it will drive some people away from the car.

                I think Musk is set on them though, so they are going to be on Model X hell or high water.

                1. Koz says:

                  Yes, it is x10. I have them and everybody loves them but if given the choice not to pay for them I would have likely opted for conventional handles. There was a less design risk with the handles. There was some aero benefit (small) with little compromise (realibility, tiny delay for entry). The “WOW” factor is certainly worth having them and producing two types of doors was probably not worth the added production complexity and loss of signature feature. As a whole, I think they made the right decision with the handles despite preferences.

                  The Falcon doors on the X are another matter. Unless they can magically solve some functional shortcomings, they will cost Tesla some sale and their cost add is much more significant. I wouldn’t expect Tesla to produce both out of the gate but it would be a popular configuration down the road once initial demand is met IMO. Just because there are some general similarities with the extending handles doesn’t mean the current situation shouldn’t be evaluated fully and on its own merits.

            2. Gibber says:

              I love the style element but they are going to be hell in a hard rain and I now have no way to mount my bicycles to the roof or skis/boards. A AWD CUV needs to be able to get me to the things I want to do and these doors kill that.

    2. I guess it’s the fancy X-wing doors and the AWD. I do wonder if it’ll actually be kind of a flop unless the third row seats are really adult seats. If they’re just kid seats, why is the X any better than the S with the back seats? (AWD is marketing BS, my opinion – good tires and good sense – and with electric motors and TC, you don’t need it.)

      1. Joshua Burstyn says:

        My wife and I had a good experience this winter in rural Ontario with our Model S. The TC was absolutely excellent and the air suspension helped as well.

      2. Nix says:

        The difference between 2-wheel drive and AWD in my state, is that you aren’t required by law to put on tire chains when the chain law is in effect.

        Whether or not AWD is overrated for snow and ice, I’ll take an AWD over any 2-wheel drive vehicle every time. It is worth it for me just to avoid putting the tire chains on in the snow on cold, dark early mornings before heading to the ski resort.

        Tires do matter (especially width). But I’ve seen plenty of RWD and FWD cars even with snow tires get stuck when AWD/4WD vehicles with snow tires don’t get stuck.

    3. kdawg says:

      Not sure. We are quoting on some equipment for the Model X line, probably for the body panels. If we get the work, I’ll have somewhat of an idea of Tesla’s progress, but nothing definitive. It’s a lot of work to layout a line, buy the equipment, set it up and integrate it, do all of the PPO stuff, etc. You are also coordinating w/a lot of suppliers, so stuff inevitably goes wrong.

  3. Josh says:

    This is not surprising for Tesla. They set overly ambitious goals and then have trouble keeping the dates.

    From a customer perspective, if they take their time and knock Model X out of the park on design and functionality, all will be forgotten.

    From a business perspective, global expansion of Model S sales (namely China), will keep production humming and revenues streaming to pay for the business growth. The more service centers and SuperChargers that are online when Model X starts rolling off the line, will only help its success.

    I still think they have an ace in their sleeve of releasing AWD Model S ahead of Model X this year, just before winter…

    1. GeorgeS says:

      AWD Model S?
      Are you just speculating?
      I think it’s a great idea.

      1. Josh says:

        AWD Model S is a guarantee, just a matter of timing. They have already changed the VIN codes for “Single Motor” and “Dual Motor”. They have developed the dual motor AWD for Model X using the Model S.

        I am thinking you will have to buy the Performance 85 to get the Dual Motor AWD. Should be pretty amazing though, 0-60 3.8?

        1. TomArt says:

          I hope you don’t need to order the P85 in order to get AWD. I am under the impression that the current Model S performs extremely well in various slippery conditions. However, people are going to want AWD whether it makes a big difference or not. I think TMC would make more money providing AWD as an option without having to also buy the Performance package.

          It’s also possible that the P85 would be AWD only…for a sub-4.0s 0-60 time…

          The question I have is whether AWD will be an option with the 60kWh pack. I have a feeling that it would only be available with the 85kWh pack…I would hope not, but it’s certainly possible…

          1. Priusmaniac says:

            A 110 KWh Model X is actually more likely, according to the timing, than a 60 KWh one, the more so when considering the higher energy requirement of this larger and heavier vehicle, so you need more battery to increase or even only maintain the range.

      2. TomArt says:

        I agree, Josh.

        And George, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Model S will have an AWD version ever since it was announced that the Model X would have AWD as an option (which is now a standard feature).

        Supposedly, either Elon Musk or someone else within TMC stated that an AWD Model S will shortly follow the intro of the Model X. I haven’t seen nor heard anything about it since, however…

  4. Cavaron says:

    If the stock is crashing, I will buy this time 😉

    1. Gibber says:

      It has been ridiculously over valued, it can only come down from here.

      1. IDK says:

        Same thing was said when the stock price was at $33 and then $91. Now look at it.

  5. no comment says:

    i think that Tesla will be better served by making sure that they get the vehicle right before offering it for sale than they would by trying to rush the car out too soon.

    i’m not a BEV fan but visually, i like the proportions in this car more than i do those of the Model S. i’ve got some questions about how well the gull wing approach will hold up against water intrusion but getting the rear door completely out of the way in that manner makes it easier to load stuff in the rear door. if i were inclined to spend money on a second car, i could easily see myself wanting to buy one; plenty of range for most local driving and lots of room for loading stuff (i assume the rear seats will be able to fold down). it looks like it might also have good sight lines from the driving position.

    1. TomArt says:

      Wow, I think you’re the only one I’ve ever read that likes the X better than the S. Very interesting.

      I think the Model S is near perfection (can’t make up my mind about the nosecone, but I’d buy one regardless, if I could afford it). To my eyes, the Model X proportions just aren’t “right” somehow.

      1. no comment says:

        for my part, i think that the XLR is the best designed automobile in the *EV segment although for me i like the design of the Volt. i definitely think that the dash/console of the Volt looks a lot better than that of the Model S. you might have to take my statements with a grain of salt because i used to own a Saab 9000, and i liked the design of that car, where many people associate Saab with quirky automobile designs.

  6. MrEnergyCzar says:

    They are under a microscope, the X needs to be perfect. Don’t rush it..,

    1. vadik_veselovsky says:

      Rather telescope.

      As in how far away is the X and if it is we are all doomed.

    2. IDK says:

      I agree…take your time and get it right. They did an excellent job with the Model S.

  7. EV says:

    Not a problem at all. Obviously they aren’t putting out a half ass car. They want to make the Model X as good as it can be and better.

    And things have changed and Tesla is doing other things at the moment so that stuff is getting in the way, which wasnt on the agenda back when 2014 was a release date.

    Patience for the greatest SUV ever made.

    1. sven says:

      It’s a CUV, not an SUV.

  8. arne-nl says:

    Elon Musk once said the Model S could be produced profitably with 15,000 per year.

    Ahum, did he say 15,000?

    Tesla is now at double that rate and still increasing. They are production constrained and their factory can not put out any more cars.

    Model X production would eat into the Model S market and the total number of cars sold would be the same. In reality it doesn’t change a thing.

    Ah, I forgot, it does. They have more time to make it awesome.

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      Why would Model X eat into the Model S? The two cars are for different demands so the customers are likely somewhat different as well. There sure will be some overlap, but it won’t be 100%, so the total market will expand.

  9. Steve says:

    It will disappointing if the falcon doors are delaying production. they are the biggest feature that I feel uneasy about. That and the price. I am not sure yet whether my desire for an EV SUV can make me pay triple or more than what I paid for my Outback.

    1. TomArt says:

      You’re comparing an Outback to a luxury SUV (think Q7…X7…)?

      1. taser54 says:

        It drives better than the model x, which doesn’t exist yet.

  10. TomArt says:

    As I’ve posted elsewhere, it obviously wasn’t happening in 2014 because there were no alphas paraded around yet. Crash testing is done on the beta vehicle, which comes after alpha…

    I would agree with your assessment in the article, Eric: first production units roll off the lines in Q2 2015, ramp-up through Q4 of 2015 and beyond.

    And, count on this: first production models of GenIII roll off the assembly lines in Q2 2018, ramp-up through Q2 2019. Any promises earlier than that are probably B.S.

  11. Anton Wahlman says:

    In my article from January, I predicted September 2015 for first deliveries. People told me that I was absolutely crazy, as everyone were sure that there could be no delays from early 2015.

    1. kdawg says:

      With all the delays, maybe we need to specify which Mayan calendar we’re using.

  12. Chris B says:

    I wonder if, in retrospect, Elon would have skipped the (lower volume) Model X entirely and gone directly to putting efforts into the Model E/gen III/whatever. Of course, it may be that they need the greater profits from the high end SUV in order to fund the likely lower profit gen III (which is also probably dependent on the giga factory) – domino effect.

    1. Bret says:

      I think Tesla has a great game plan:

      1) Model S
      2) Model X derivative
      3) Gen 3
      4) Small CUV derivative
      5) BEV/EREV Pickup Truck?

      They can cover almost the entire spectrum of potential buyers from three basic designs.

      If they were to deviate from their long published game plan, it would cost them a lot of credibility and potential customers.

      1. Nix says:

        Don’t forget the New Roadster based upon the Gen 3 chassis….

    2. Koz says:

      Mostly correct about higher profits but don’t forget X is based on the same platform as the S and there are symbiotic advantages for the S too, such as AWD.

  13. Bearer of Bad News says:

    This is a great article. I was wondering why there has been so little discussion of the Model X delay that was softly disclosed on the conference call.

    Anton has been warning about this for a while, but again people haven’t really focused on it.

    Its a serious issue for Tesla. First, if it slips just a little more, then the company will almost certainly miss 2015 earnings as much as 20 percent.

    Second, there is no doubt that the focus on Model X will delay the intense engineering ramp on the Generation 3. With every other car company focusing on that product, Tesla can not afford to be late.

    Third, the delays in Model X are now costing lots of money, costs that hadn’t been modeled by investors.

    Fourth, the idea that this delay is really do to engineering on seals for the doors is total BS. Its a lie. In all likelihood, the reason for the delay is that the company is changing the design or chemistry of the battery. The Model X needs to be better for cold weather applications than the Model S. Thats whats required for a cross over vehicle, the company has said as much. Touching that battery means they may be dealing with a delay of indeterminate length.

    1. TomArt says:

      Since when has the Model S’s performance in cold weather been an issue? I am not aware of any substantial capacity degradation in cold weather. There are a number of owners profiled who live in very cold climates and do back flips over their Teslas…in some cases, it’s the only type of car they own!

      I don’t buy the door thing, either. Elon Musk said himself in an interview a couple months ago that it is very hard to design a good-looking CUV. He openly and freely blamed himself for holding up the design process. He said that the alpha model will have a decidedly different appearance (mostly in proportions, as well as I can remember) than the prototype.

    2. TomArt says:

      It is true that TMC has had the next-gen cells from Panasonic for easily a year or more, but all evidence points to the cost/kWh being too high for the target profit margins.

      I would be pleasantly surprised, but I seriously doubt that they are using anything other than the cells used in the S.

    3. Anon says:

      Utter BS…

      1. Bearer of Bad News says:

        Anon Wrote

        “Utter BS…”

        Yes, I agree. The company does tend to inflate the good news and hide the ball on adverse developments.

        I think in this case, they affirmatively put it out there that the Model X is delayed. They wouldn’t do this if the continuing delays were just incremental.

        By disclosing that there won’t be even prototypes until Q-4, they are laying the groundwork for further disclosures that will almost certainly shift volume out into late 2015 or potentially into 2016.

        Remember that just 3 months ago, before the financing, there were rumors that prototypes were seen on the road, and Tesla made a comment about being 97 pct done. Now the time for prototypes is 9 months later. Thats a lot.

        If prototypes aren’t available until the end of this year, there really will need to be another year of testing and ramp before they deliver cars. No car company can put out prototypes on date x and be in full volume either 9 months later.

        Also the company said it is just doing initial tooling. Thats not last stage stuff.

        I am sure we all agree with the comments about it being better to wait and get it right, rather than push it out before its ready and risk a major quality problem or recall. I am sure that Tesla, its customers and ultimately its investors would also agree.

        We are really looking at the company reconditioning the market to start to expect that this car will not add material revenue in 2015. Just start to adjust for that.

        If its not batteries, I wonder what the big work is? Remember, they say they are ramping R and D dramatically right now due to the Model X. That can’t be seals for the door. What could be holding this up so long?

    4. arne-nl says:

      ” costs that hadn’t been modeled by investors.”,/I.

      Haha, lol.

      If ‘investors’ are using models. Nothing as sophisticated as that. It’s all emotion and mass psychology at this point. It will be at least 10 years before Tesla is worth its current price according to the ‘models’.

      And if the extra money goes into making the car really really good, then that is a wise investment. Trying to rush a product to market is penny wise pound foolish and I trust Elon Musk to make the right call.

      1. arne-nl says:

        You see what I did? I rushed my comment to market 🙂

        And did it twice. Oh my goodness.

  14. arne-nl says:

    You see what I did? I rushed my comment to market 🙂

  15. CherylG says:

    “Extensive development work on Model X is underway and we expect to have production design prototypes ready in Q4.”

    Prototypes in Q4?

    Q4? That seems very late and a recipe for a repeat of the Model S reliability problems.

    Hopefully the extremely delayed prototypes doesn’t mean the Model X will join the Model S on Consumer Reports list of ” cars to avoid” list due to excessive reliability problems that should have been uncovered during the development process.

    1. GSP says:

      CherylG – ROFLOL, what a comic.

      GSP

    2. TomArt says:

      It’s not a car to avoid, for crying out loud! What planet are you from? It had the highest rating ever!

      1. CherylG says:

        Consumer Reports has placed the 2013 Model S on their ‘cars to avoid’ list due to reliability issues.

        I take it you are not a subscriber to Consumer Reports.

        1. Trace says:

          I am and I can’t find that article. Link please! You’ve been blabbing about this elusive CR “avoid list” for 2 months now. Put up or shut up, because you’re starting to sound like the girl who cried wolf.

        2. Phr3d says:

          She (it) always disappears when asked for proof, as do most lying sax o’ merde

          Sure wish a thumbs up/down system could be retrofitted here, i.e., a user’s comment won’t be shown if several people vote that its inane repetitions do not add to the discussion (you can, of course, click and read what it wrote -again- if you wish to).