Tesla Model X Falcon Door Lets Water Rush Right On In


Water Incoming

Water Incoming

Is leakage going to be a fundamental design flaw for the Model X?

This video – originally posted to members of the TESLA MODEL X Owners Club on Facebook, and now uploaded to YouTube via Richard Rahlcaptures a rain-drenched Tesla Model X Falcon door opening.

The rainwater streams directly into the second-row seat of the Model X, drenching the interior of the electric SUV, as well as any occupants who happen to be in line with the incoming water.

Is there a way to fix this?  We sure hope Tesla comes up with a solution quickly. Hopefully this turns out to be more of an isolated/small issue rather than not.

The original video uploader notes that Tesla is working to fix this particular Model X. The uploader also notes that both doors leak, but that the left door only drips, whereas the right streams in as seen in the video.

Our fix? Having an ordering option to swap out of the Falcon doors for something more traditional for those who don’t desire the feature.

Additional reports confirm that some Model X SUVs are affected by this issue.

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104 Comments on "Tesla Model X Falcon Door Lets Water Rush Right On In"

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Just a pre-emptive note to the community.

This is sure to be a “hot topic” discussion, and as such it will not be allowed to turn into an ever-escalating, long vs short, name-calling train wreck thread that makes it too unpleasant for moderates to read.

Obviously, all comments/opinions are welcome as ever, but only “big boy pants” behavior on this one please. Thanks!

Update: Multiple/frequent offenders will be given 12 hour “time-outs”

Thank you for the Responsible article headline.

Door. One door, of one customer that is being repaired so that it performs normally like other customers doors.

Not Doors!

Julian, pretty much all the gull wing and many other car doors will wet you in the rain.
If you are going to buy a GW door car, you should expect some problems.
Same with various sunroofs. You couldn’t pay me to have a sun roof as I live in Fla where we get more in 1 day than Cal gets in a yr at times.
I’m in the process of designing a gullwing door sportvan but I’m keeping a full roof to avoid the problems.
In the Tesla likely just a seal problem that needs replacing.

Seriously, one door with a bad seal.

“The video uploader notes that Tesla is working to fix this particular Model X. The uploader also notes that both doors leak, but that the left door only drips, whereas the right streams in as seen in the video.”

The fact that the other door only has a drip tells you that the one door has a seriously defective seal.

So, the story is “DEFECTIVE SEAL found”.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Well I was wondering what might happen in a nasty rainstorm. Now to see what happens in winter weather. I do wish they’d offered this vehicle with regular doors. Not functional for me as-is.

I guess the answer to what would happen in the snow: “kids like snow cones even in the middle of winter.”

The problem in winter areas I’ve lived is that you will often get a layer of ice or very hard snow on the roof, or conversely wet snow that is hard to dig out of hatches.

Then of course there is the whole issue that the roof is useless for ski rack, canoe, kayak etc; of which in my area probably at least 1/3 of vehicles have.

Elton stated that a rack is coming that works via suction cups. Rack on one side, door access on the other. Tested up to well over 100mph.

My recollection is that he referred to a third party product. Tesla not making one. Also has restrictions on weight. Still not enough room left for my canoe (and probably not my pod). Not to mention lose access to one side of the car.

I remain hopeful that they will not hamper the Model Y with these doors.

There is a third possibility between FWD and standard doors that could be interesting. It would be a standard door but with a mini roof part only separate FWD. You could open it after opening a normal door for easier cabin access but you could leave it closed when under the rain or when carrying a roof rack. In a sense that would be like replacing the falcon wing with two separate doors roughly where the outer articulation is now standing. This would result in a rather advantageous combination that allow better rain event protection, a roof rack and still as easy access even if it would be a little less impressive to watch the opening.

Kootenay, if you put ski racks on it, it destroys the aero dropping range 10-50 miles at speed.
Put the ski’s inside.

Not worried about the aero – I’m contemplating a rack for my Leaf just to get the skis back out of the car actually. My hill is within range of a Leaf. For the odd regional race our young kids do, the drop in aero also won’t matter, we’ll just plan to take slightly longer if we need a mid-trip charge. I was actually hoping the X would have both rows of seats on pillars, which would allow the skis to be on the floor. They didn’t do that, so the only viable way that I see for skis to go in the car is to get the 6 seat version, then fold the two rear seats and have the skis in between the middle two seats. Kind of ruins the vehicle for taking more than just my kids (remember “more functional than a mini-van”?). As much as I love Tesla and have been following them since 2008, unfortunately they screwed up on the “functionality” part of the X for me, as far as a CUV/SUV goes. My Leaf has more utility, and if I need the range I still have my Subaru Forester. (If some car manufacturer reads these… Read more »

Go have a look at this photo on my Facebook page – this is an example of what I want to be able to do with our future SUV EV (which hopefully is a Tesla).


Foldable boats. They fit on the inside while you leave the bikes on the back.





Musk flew too close to the sun with his Falcon-wings.


I think we can now officially call them albatross-winged doors.

Good one! It sure seems so.

Kids and babies like fresh water inside a hot car – it’s a great feature, not a bug.

Also, nobody would ever buy an SUV – ICE or electric – without these doors. Just look at the sales stats. SUVs and CUVs sell very poorly worldwide, only these doors can sustain sales.

Back to reality.

Exactly. “There’s too much fresh potable water!”

Total first world problem.

A quick OTA software update will fix this.

This was one of my first thoughts when I saw these doors. Even cars with conventional doors have gutter systems built into the body. It’s one of those uncelebrated complexities of even a cheap car, that gives you an appreciation of everything that goes into an auto design. I had assumed this was one of the subtle, but important bugs that held up the design. I guess they just punted on this one.

My then brand new 1971 Mustang’s Rear Floor Pods would fill up with water whenever it rained.. Traded it in for a new a 340 demon, it was faster (12second 1/4 mile times) & did not leak..

Yes, it has a gutter system. Likely something went wrong with this one. Other Model X’s have been in the heavy rain without this issue.

i had commented on this possibility several months ago before the car was released. this doesn’t appear to be a “seal” problem because if it were, the car would leak when the doors were closed. indeed, it looked like the car was designed with channels that provided positive drainage around the rear doors.

the problem is that those channels can only conduct so much water per unit time. when you open the falcon wing doors, a lot of water can be potentially dumped into the channel. apparently, the water is being dumped into the channel at a faster rate than the channel can drain. this is a function of the surface area of the top section of the falcon wing doors. the result is overflow of the channel and entry of water into the cabin.

as some have noted, you can get water intrusion when opening the door with just about any car, but the design of the falcon wing door makes this water intrusion a much bigger problem because the surface area on which the water collects is much larger.

one possible solution is a much more slowly opening door. but that may be unacceptable for ergonomic reasons.

I would hope a different solution can be found, if this turns out to be a significant problem. From what’s posted elsewhere, it does seem it’s a significant problem in the monsoon rains in Asia, and according to what’s reported, Tesla has already instituted a software change to cause the FW doors to open more slowly in that market.

Perhaps molding some grooves into the roof of the car would help direct rain runoff away from the door openings. That would likely give a bit of a hit to streamlining, and therefore a (hopefully tiny) hit to range. But if the rain runoff situation turns out to be a significant problem, rather than just an occasional annoyance, then I think it would be worth the change.

Quality control, probably on the weather seal, based on where the water is coming in. This is definitely a one-off in manufacturing, not in design. I know enough Model X owners who aren’t having problems like this.

Now I know why they didn’t put child seat anchors in the second-row middle seat, usually the safest seat in a car for a baby seat.

Thats the problem with being the first to buy, you get bugs and worse build quality, but to be fair, the signature… err.. signature surely looks great!

When you’re the first to buy an Model X, you get water bugs.

How can the journalist swallow the story that “they are working to fix it”. Isn’t this one of the most obvious issues they could face with such doors? They obviously tried long ago, failed, but decided to sell it anyway.

It is unreasonable to assume that this is a design flaw. You do not need to be a specialist to anticipate the need to avoid rain running into the passenger compartment while the door is open.

It is likely that this particular vehicle has a manufacturing flaw.

Which is what the owner reported on Facebook. It’s a defective deal on one of the doors and the service center is on it.

It isn’t clear whether this is a problem with 1 car, or if this is how they all work.

One would be a manufacturing defect, the other a design flaw. If it is a manufacturing defect, that happens to every car company, and they will fix this car. If it is a design flaw, they’ve got a much bigger problem.

Something to consider is that Tesla is a California based company. While it does rain there, the intensity of storms are mild compared to the SE US. This PDF ( https://www2.iccsafe.org/states/Virginia/Plumbing/PDFs/Appendix%20B_Rates%20of%20Rainfall%20for%20Various%20Cities.pdf ) shows that CA sees rainfall rates of around 2″ / hour, where as FL is almost 5″ / hour.

Pretty sure Tesla has the design experience to put an SUV under a big hose to see how it handles a lot of water…

Given the ubiquity of rain, this would have reared its head a lot sooner if it were a design flaw. I suspect it’s a bad specimen.

I had a 1980’s Corvette where the door seals were screwed up and when you drove it in the rain it was like being in a fish tank.

To be honest when I saw these doors I knew they where going to leak water like crazy. And in a lot of my comments on this website I said if you guys buy this car make sure you keep it in a garage at all times when you are not driving it.

I had a ’72 MGB GT. My feet got wet every time it rained.

But then again, it was a ’72 MGB GT.

This can’t be called a design flaw yet and your preconceptions regarding the door styles don’t matter one bit. The world was once convinced that Model S and EVs in general were not safe because of two battery fires but the balance of cars on the roads proved them wrong. Regardless of our feelings on the doors I think we can all hope together that this is a similar unique situation/QC issue that will be a non-issue down the road. Tesla succeeding with the Model X and Model 3 is critical to the evolution of the EV industry as a whole.

Looks like a bad weather seal to me, not something that is an issue with the design.

I’m more curious how it performs in the snow as naysayers say it would be horrible vs conventional doors.

When you open both F.W. doors, you get what we are dubbing a “snowhawk.” When the doors are fully deployed, they create a reasonable canopy, because the bottom segment is larger than the top segment opening. Horizontal winds like in a tornado would be detrimental to the design, but I struggle to believe anyone out there sincerely believes Tesla failed to engineer a solution for inclement weather.
Serious buyers have already asked and been given answers to this question.

That is what happens when you design a car in California during multi-year drought and never think about possibility of rain :/
Seriously, other premium automakers also have their own set of abysmal quality issues when trying to push too much gimmicky features. E.g. Mercedes was very unreliable at some time due to electronics. Hopefully X has some gutters for water flow just like every hatchback or sedan trunk and it is just a matter of seating/aligning rubber seals properly.

That’s probably why the Model S AWD handles so terribly in snow, because CA has so little of it…Oh Wait….

AWD + Electric Motors = Good in Snow.

But Tesla actually has issues in cold weather, which don’t seem to be addressed…

Just think of all the money you will save on not having to pay for those expensive water park tickets!

This only increases the fun-factor of owning a Model X!

Shouldn’t the reality distortion field fix this? Oh, wrong company.

“This is the perfect EV for Mars, no rain there!”
– Elon Musk

This excerpt is from the 4th quarter conference call, edited for brevity. The full transcript can be found at the link below.

Emmanuel Rosner, CLSA – Analyst [31]:
Hi, good afternoon. I wanted to ask you first, can you give us a little more color on what exactly happened with the Q4 launch? In the letter, it implied that it took maybe longer than expected. What issues have you encountered? . . .

. . .

JB Straubel, Tesla Motors, Inc. – CTO [37]
It was seals.

Elon Musk, Tesla Motors, Inc. – Chairman & CEO [38]
Seals. Yes, the seals have been a huge bane. Essentially, the seals had to be redesigned. Then the seals that we did have had to be re-worked by hand in order to fit correctly. Yes, seals were a bane. We had a lot of issues with obviously secondary seat, but we’ve now in-sourced that capability. Yes, we really don’t see any fundamental issues.

Emmanuel Rosner, CLSA – Analyst [39]
Okay. It sounds like it’s basically mostly behind you.


Yeah, the issue with the seals is behind you if you’re sitting in the front seat. 😉

Telsa is already trying to solve this Model X specific problem in Asia where the monsoon rainstorms are common almost year round (google report on this in Hongkong where Tesla is “looking into it”). Very few Model X will ever be sold in Asia, only more as a trophy car by the wealthy.

Jim Sage said:

“Very few Model X will ever be sold in Asia, only more as a trophy car by the wealthy.”

Hmmm, well if you mean relatively few as compared to the very large population of China, I guess you could say the same about any expensive foreign import.

A lot of people have predicted the Model X will outsell the Model S in China. It’s too soon to know if they are right, but I think their guess is more likely than yours.

Model X is designed in California, which doesn’t get much rain. Are you surprise?

California actually has rainy season and dry season.

it does rain decently between Nov and April. Although we have been in a drought recently. But December is usually very rainy in California (Northern California where Tesla is based).

As a Californian, I would say that is not true at all. We may be in a drought, but typically we still get plenty of rain (and pouring rain recently with El Nino).

Simple fix: a towel.

LOL. Like everybody says about the touch screen and seat belt, “just move the seat”. Maybe with the MX, it’ll evolve to “just sit somewhere else”.

Seriously, I once had to pull over and seat a door seal, for wind noise. Another Tesla owner might have made a video or audio, compressed it down to social media size, and then uploaded it to Facebook.

It’s too funny, when you think about. We’ve turned repairs into social movements, and ultimately become handy at proving the problems we can’t fix. Bravo, humans.


Elon will regret forcing falcon wing doors on the Model X for a long time.

It reminds me of Jeff Bezos and his insistence for including the Fire phone’s faux 3-D feature. It was a feature that was pretty useless in real world applications, but Bezos insisted it be included in the final version of the phone. Not surprisingly, the phone flopped.

The falcon wing doors? Super cool? Sure. Very unnecessary? Definitely.

And unlike the 3D feature of the Fire phone (which was useless, but also harmless), the Model X falcon wing doors already have exhibited a serious flaw (water leakage).

I think this issue will be rectified quickly by Tesla.

After a rainstorm, however, I wouldn’t want to accidentally open the rear hatch while one or more of the FWDs are open. In that scenario nothing will stop any water on the hatch from draining into the car.

This challenge is part of the concept. Unless this was considered and designed for in the first place, there is no easy fix to this problem.

New door design is a new body in White. Massive tooling and leadtime.

Any attempts with extra sealing or padding will only solve part of the problem. It will lead to more issues.

However, I have a hard time believing this has been overlooked by Tesla. DeLorean had similar issues in the beginning, related to door sealing tolerance issues.

I don’t at all intend to minimize the extent to which the Model X would have to be changed to install, for example, minivan type sliding doors instead of the falcon wing doors. That would require significant structural changes to the rear half of the car. The motorized tracks and bicycle-type chains needed to operate the doors would require some changes to the bottom of the car; in fact, the placement of the battery pack might require the motorized track and chain to be moved to the top of the door. But back in the day — the 1960s and ’70s — it was common for an auto maker to offer a station wagon version of sedans. Surely this would be a lesser change than that. Obviously this wouldn’t be something that Tesla could do cheaply or easily. It would require making a different edition of the car, requiring separate crash tests and so on. This should only be done if there is a significant market for the Model X without falcon wing doors. But arguably, that market is already there, from all the people complaining they can’t carry anything on top of the car. That’s probably 10% of the… Read more »

Well, since the problem occurs with just one door and not both, then it would appear the problem is one of installation on this particular unit, not necessarily design. One example of a “lemon” doesn’t mean it’s a bad model.

On the other hand, it’s exactly this type of problem that concerned me from the very first, about this type of door. It’s an “experimental” design which is going to have problems that normal doors don’t.

The article says:

“Our fix? Having an ordering option to swap out of the Falcon doors for something more traditional for those who don’t desire the feature.”

Yes, and I posted several times in the past that I hoped Tesla would do so. Obviously they weren’t listening.

However, I think it’s rather early to proclaim the FW doors a “failure”. We need to give this more time to see how it works out, and to see how Model X owners like the doors — or don’t.

If Elon offers even an option for “regular” doors, it would be admission that the falcon wing doors were a poor idea. I don’t think his ego could take such a hit.

Perhaps he could phrase it something like “due to changes in market conditions, we have decided to offer conventional doors as an option on the Model X”. Spin it as an additional option instead of an admission of a gross error.

If any face-saving “spin” is necessary, Tesla can just say that it’s offering the option for those who want to use a roof rack. There were already a lot of complaints about not being able to carry things on the roof, even before deliveries began.

It would mean new car model, everything would need to be redone. No chance it will happen any time soon. It is a bit premature do declare these doors a failure, it may be just a bad sealing that can be fixed. After all main Tesla market is California that doesn’t see that much heavy rain, so it should work at least for them.

zzzzzzzzzz said:

“It would mean new car model, everything would need to be redone. No chance it will happen any time soon.”

Quite true. Probably at least two years, maybe longer.

“It is a bit premature do declare these doors a failure…”

More than a bit, I’d say.

I don’t know what the big deal is, us Jeep Wrangler owners have been getting soaked when opening the doors years before Mr. Musk was even conceived…

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Some discussion — and not exactly civil argument — about the issue (or non-issue, depending on whose post you read) on the official Tesla Motors forum:


Apparently there is an issue with opening the FW doors while the hatchback is open; water runs down the hatch and into the FW roof openings. One post quotes the Mode X manual:

On page 7

Caution: In rainy weather, leaving a falcon wing open while opening the liftgate can result in rain water falling from the liftgate into the rear seating area
[end quote]

However, some posts say this is happening even when the hatch isn’t open.

I was one of the early doubters about the FW doors but not for this particular issue, I assumed over time, the gradual wear due to the force being placed on them would cause closing issues.

This is most likely an isolated case ?

Basic picture isn’t really so much different from regular hatchback backdoor. They just work for many years. You may need to replace some parts a decade later, but that is all.

It’s possible that even if it looks like a manufacturing flaw, it’ s really a design flaw because design flaws LEAD to manufacturing flaws. Sorry Tesla but the decision to use this kind of doors primarily show an embarrassing ego-problem to prove the world that they can do what all others before could not do, namely to develop good falcon-wing doors. I hope Tesla will not make this mistake again with model 3.

Ouch, this is not good. It looks like the Model X is going to be a lot of trouble for Tesla. This issue could easily kill off a large part of the interest for the X.

Tesla is getting more and more dependent on delivering the 3 as soon as possible. It would be interesting to know how well an X with regular doors would fare in comparison. The falcon wing doors may be cool for the moment but it might be more hassle than it’s worth.

There is software update to pause the rain.

The big problem with the doors seems to be that they’re preventing Tesla from making very many Model X. I know a guy who is willing to buy a Model X but apparently Tesla doesn’t even have enough production to give each of its stores one.

He doesn’t suffer fools gladly so for amusement purposes he sent around his email correspondence with Tesla. Clear that Tesla is having big problems on the line though it won’t say that.

Tesla is guiding to 85,000-90,000 units in ’16, and I don’t think it’s because they’d love to be crucified.

Well 79,645 Model S and 355 Model X would meet this guidance. LOL AFAIK there hasn’t been any guidance on the mix. Plus Tesla missed initial guidance in 2014 and 2015. Not to say it will miss in 2016 but it would not be a shock if it did.

I still think the FW Doors were a mistake but this doesn’t look like a major flaw.

Oh, automatic gear box, you can imagine how many flaws and issues it will have that manual gear box would not have, well this will neither work. Electric windows aperture, we can imagine all the flaws and issues. And what happen when it will stack open when it’s raining. No guys, this electric windows will never go mainstream because people will be afraid of issues….blablabla, do I have to continue?

Sure, new technology usually have issues at first. However, Tesla is a startup with a very shaky financial situation. Producing an Edsel this early in the company lifetime could mean Tesla’s undoing. GM or Toyota have the financial muscles to experiment with new designs that might become massive failures, Tesla is not in that situation.

The real problem Ford had with the Edsel was lack of demand.

That doesn’t appear to be a problem with the Model X! 😀

I’ve learned at least a couple of things in designing building plumbing and HVAC systems for the past 30 years. One of them are that some design decisions can be fundamentally-flawed, as they work against some basic rules of physics, especially when it involves water. The work-arounds are always expensive and frequently fail, which keeps attorneys very busy with the subsequent lawsuits. They usually reflect an architect with more ego than common sense. I politely decline these projects.

Some examples:

Roofs that slope to the center. (Butterfly roofs)
Cities built at below sea level, especially in hurricane territory (Nawlins comes to mind.
Putting the major plumbing fixtures down in the basement.
Big skylights.

When I saw the Falcon wing door concept, I cringed. This isn’t new technology. This is egotistic vehicle architecture that places form before function. The door violates some fundamental requirements of an efficient, reliable door.

Only that automatic gear boxes and windows offer great convenience for many drivers, these doors on the other hand don’t make sense for most use cases.

Children will grow up (enter/exit the car themselves) and the show-off factor even is a negative for some potential buyers.

If this door feature wasn’t a personal pet project of the Tesla CEO it would have been killed off after the concept stage – but of course nobody at Tesla dares to admit that.

PS: And let’s remember that all these Model X videos are from brand-new cars with a few mikes.

I would like to see these doors after a few years of use in winter or heavy rain…good luck once the warranty expires.

I sincerely doubt that.

The doors are just very new conceptually so old school thinkers have a hard time grasping their potential. It will take a little while and people reporting their experiences to understand it.

Comments I saw so far are: […] this actually makes me excited that this huge covering protects the cabin when raining. I like the idea of half way [opening] in very heavy rain. Seems way better than traditional […] Usually when you open the FW doors in the rain, the top part of the FWD shields the passengers from the rain very nicely. I was in and out of a couple of Model Xes last night in heavy rain and wind at the Meet Model X event in Manhattan. No problem with water getting into the car through the FWDs. Definitely better protection for occupants than a regular door.

There is some point to them. They allow easy access for parents putting kids into baby seats. They also make it easier to get into the third row of seats.

But these things could have also been handled with a minivan type of door . . . but a minivan type of door just isn’t cool.

And this is what it all boils down to.

For nearly 20 years, I used sliding doors on my work vehicles. Simple, incredibly easy and fast to open/close and in all of those years never ran into any issues that FWD are suppose to solve. Other than being “cool”.

“…parents putting kids into baby seats.”

That was my point above, babies grow up quickly. What’s the point after 3-5 years?

I doubt most nannies can afford the Model X who handle small children for a living…

Sliding doors in minivans and utility vehicles solved amost access problems for decades – gull wings may look cool but don’t belong in a mass-produced car.

Kids from 5+ years on into their early teens still have issues banging regular doors into the cars parked right next to them. BTDT (sigh) So a FWD would help there. Oh, but wait, so does a much simpler sliding door.

This has been an issue with gull-wing doors since the first time anyone tried to make them. It should be no surprise that the same issue can be a problem with Falcon-wing doors. If you live in a really rainy place, perhaps this is not the car for you.

I think there is some truth to the fact that the car was designed in California. In a way Michigan is a good place to design cars because it is such a full 4-season area of the country. They get it all . . . from stifling heat to frigid cold to massive thunderstorms.

Just offer some free umbrella for Tesla Model X buyers. Make sure to use them inside the car during the rain as well…


I hope Falcon doors won’t be standard on the upcoming Model 3 based CUVs.

Wow, all the video links are deleted.

That is some quick actions…

Yes, it is a private group but insideevs went for clicks … especially since it was *1* door and there are many Xs out there now that have certainly be through some carwashes and rain.

Tesla doesn’t have the experience to know that these doors were a mistake. It does have a CEO with a huge ego. The model x will prove to be a huge costly mistake for years to come because he can’t admit he ducked up.

I love my model S.. really have no interest at all in a SUV… or a panoramic sunroof either…I don’t use the auto pilot or the summon… I hope Tesla takes the “toy” factor out of these vehicles before going mainstream… these vehicles need to function at a higher level of integrity or Tesla’s reputation for quality beyond reproach will suffer immensely. ..whooooosh! Im gone….

Autopilot and summon features are not “toy” features – they are the future. I’m also impressed: based on my test drive, autopilot works quite well.

There are some really idiotic comments in this thread – since Tesla Motors has been selling cars globally since 2008, they are aware of the meteorological phenomenon called RAIN. The fact that the company is based in southern California is completely and utterly irrelevant! Only a fool would not test a vehicle properly. As the above quotes from the conference call clearly demonstrate, there has been extensive rain testing.

The other common comment is something about a cool factor and ego. These are secondary to the fact that the Falcon Doors are extremely effective and functional for getting into the middle and 3rd rows easier. The roofline is a problem, even with sliding doors. The FW doors are a functional and practical solution to ingress and egress for anyone.

The only legitimate concern is the lack of utility for those who actually use their roof racks. That is a problem. Those people probably shouldn’t buy a Model X, as unfortunate as it sounds.

this model X should come with mandatory latex seating!