Though Tesla has enjoyed marked success in a short time period, and future prospects seem promising, the Tesla Model X hasn't proven itself as the key player it was expected to be for the electric automaker.
One would think that with SUV and Crossover sales at monumental numbers in the US, the Tesla Model X may have exceeded Model S popularity and sales.
However, the numbers don't prove this. Model S sales continue to climb, as does Tesla's overall sales, but the Model X is not yet close to outpacing the sedan as was anticipated by many. In the U.S. Model X sales have surely been up and down since its debut, and global sales for the SUV have grown as worldwide production has come online over the course of 2016, but it certainly hasn't been the hit that was expected by many.
Over the past 6 months, Tesla has pegged global Model X sales at just over 21,000 units (Q1 2017 Model X sales at ~11,550, Q4 2016 sales at ~9,500), while the Model S has sold some 25% more at around 26,000+ (13,450 in Q1 2017, 12,700 in Q4 2016). In the US, where one assumes the SUV would have a big advantage over the sedan, given the preferences of the American consumer, we estimate the sales split to be even larger at around 40% in favor of the Model S (Q4-2016 to Q1-2017): 13,750 Model S sales to 9,800 Model X.
Tesla Model X Interior With Seating For Seven
The upcoming Tesla Model 3 has attracted a substantial amount of interest, and if reservations and popularity transfer to sales, Tesla will have another winning vehicle on the market.
Much the same, interest is already peaking for Tesla's Model Y compact SUV which is still a long way from production.
So what gives? What does everyone have against the Tesla Model X?
Autotrader analyst, Michelle Krebs, shared:
“Luxury SUVs are really hot right now, and the Model X should have been a big hit and broadened Tesla’s audience. You don’t hear a lot of buzz about the Model X, and when you do, it’s the negative stuff.”
Consumer Reports ranks the Model X near the bottom of its list of luxury SUVs. The publication's director of automotive testing, Jake Fisher, explained:
“SUVs are popular because of utility, and this is an SUV that doesn’t have a lot of utility. The X was a big science experiment to say, ‘How far can we go?’ And they went too far.”
The important point to remember is the Tesla CEO Elon Musk doesn't deny any of this. He has said publicly that the Model X came with too much whiz bang. Musk has gone so far as to call himself an idiot:
“Model X became kind of like a technology bandwagon of every cool thing we could imagine all at once. That is a terrible strategy.”
“We’re making the simplest Model 3 first, like we did with S. Didn’t do it with X, because I was an idiot.”
The Model X is not cheap, and its crazy falcon-wing doors haven't help. Not only did the doors come to market with issues and generate negative press, they are expensive and difficult to engineer. Musk has also mentioned similar concerns with the independently operable second-row seats.
Regardless of early problems with the Model X - which amounted to unhappy customers and critics, causing repercussions that the company is still trying to overcome - Tesla has made many improvements, and most owners are happy with their Model X SUVs today. In fact, 88 percent of owners told Consumer Reports that they would purchase the vehicle again.
Now that Tesla has been around the block, and is becoming more known among the masses, future expectations will be higher. A J.D. Power focus group showed that currently Tesla owners tend to be pretty forgiving about flaws with their vehicles. But with the mass-market Model 3 coming to market soon, a bigger sample of the population will be scrutinizing Tesla. Director of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power, Kathleen Rizk, told Autonews:
“Model 3 buyers will not be as accepting of body panel gaps or misalignment. As millennials step into the Model 3, they are expecting it to work perfectly.”
Being that Musk is well aware of his oversights with the Model X, we can only expect that Tesla will be on its 'A' game with future pursuits, and will work to ensure the Model Y doesn't make the same mistakes as its big brother.