Tesla Model X Prototype Testing, Interior Spotted – Video

MAY 11 2015 BY JAY COLE 73

Tesla Model X Prototype Out For A Spin Near Palo Alto - Interior On Partial Display

Tesla Model X Prototype Out For A Spin Near Palo Alto – Interior On Partial Display (via Youtube User nbkagzw13)

It was only a few days ago when a Tesla Model X prototype was spotted rolling down Rt101 near Tesla’s HQ in Palo Alto.

Now comes the best, and cleanest, footage of the company’s upcoming electric SUV we have seen to date.

Unlike previous high speed/distance shots of the X, this video features a pull-beside, and a pretty decent look at the interior of the EV.

Also the fit and finish around the Falcon Wing doors on this particular X seems to be a lot more acceptable (but not yet perfect) over previous vehicles caught in the wild.

Tesla Model X In Palo Alto Over The Weekend

Tesla Model X In Palo Alto Over The Weekend (via Youtube User nbkagzw13)

Tesla Model X Driving

Tesla Model X Driving (via Youtube User nbkagzw13)

Youtube User nbkagzw13, via TeslaMotorsClub forums, hat tip to Khai Lam!

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73 Comments on "Tesla Model X Prototype Testing, Interior Spotted – Video"

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The doors are still slightly off. I may cancel my deposit if it looks like the doors will be a maintenance problem going forward. Such a shame; this car won’t need such gimmicks to sell.

Another on the pile of disinformant ignorant comments about the doors that nobody tried.

Try looking in the mirror before calling somebody else ignorant. You continue ignoring the obvious when it comes to the falcon doors.

Oh! You had the chance to test them? Tell us about your experience…

No test needed……’fit and finish’ is something one can see. And many of us who aren’t in denial have seen poor fitting doors in the pictures that exist.

And what kind of pictures?

Pictures of TEST VEHICLES– __NOT__ final production models.

Judgmental much? Sheesh…

Of course we’ve only seen test vehicles – final production is yet to be.

What the test vehicles did do was confirm my predictions regarding fit and finish issues. Which IMO justifies my criticism of Tesla for wasting time and resources on reinventing something as trivial as third-seat access.

The major reason for the FW doors is easy second row access for the busy mother with a child in her arms, or bags. So said Elon.

OK, got it. Waste three years perfecting something that might ease things for a busy mom with a child in her arms, or bags.

+1 million

I’m going to guess the flexing tolerances on a double hinged door necessitate a larger panel gap than would be the case for a singled hinged door. The door is fine once seated, but could “come home” at greater incidence angles, thus requiring more adjacent panel clearance.

The gap on this unit may be the way it is for all the production models.

Dare you to cancel … likely you been waiting in line over a year that now is 25,000+ long for US deliveries.

Are you willing to step out of the line before seeing an MX in-person?

Please Cancel Now (if you actually have a reservation, or ever had full intentions of going through with a reservation you might have).

The last thing anybody cares about is potential Tesla owners who aren’t smart enough to know the difference between a PROTOTYPE, and a production vehicle.

Tesla needs a measuring stick like at Magic Mountain that says “You must be at least This Smart to buy this vehicle”.

Am I the only one who thinks this car looks great? The biggest two remaining variables are (1) Price and (2) Whether one can rely on the long-term durability of those doors.

No. It’s the sexiest fully electric Sports Utility Vehicle on the planet. Can’t wait for the July Presentation for this…

Well . . . it is also the ONLY fully electric Sports Utility Vehicle on the planet.

It amazes me that, according to some comments on previous articles about the Model X here on InsideEVs, some people actually think the boxy, flat rear and and rooftop of a typical SUV is somehow prettier or more “sexy” than the Model X.

I’ve never seen a “sexy” production CUV or SUV, and I don’t expect to ever see one. (Prototypes, yes. Actual production automobiles, no.) Cars and light trucks built to have a lot of passenger/cargo space in the rear can’t be given “sexy” body lines.

The Model X looks pretty nice to me, as compared to other CUVs. Asking for more than that is asking for the impossible.

All just my opinions, of course. De gustibus non est disputandum.

as is so often the case; before the car is available, there will be no shortage of people on this forum declaring: “i want one! i want one!”. then, when it comes out and they see the price the say: “it’s too expensive! it’s too expensive!”.

stuff ain’t free folks…

“I want one” and “It is too expensive” are not mutually exclusive, or even slightly contradictory.

Heck, the entire Free Market is built upon that exact reality. Prices ALWAYS reflect demand/desire. Everybody here could spend days posting examples of things I really want, but can’t afford to buy.

People will always want to buy cars they can’t afford. That’s true for all cars (regardless of ICE or EV) from every car maker, not just Tesla. That is why the vast majority of people buy used cars.

What is your point/complaint? Just trying to be the Master of the Obvious?

Hmmm, actually I think it doesn’t look good at all. Looks like an overweight Model S.

I am a big Tesla fan, but I hear many negative remarks about the styling of X from different people. This is not good. I don’t understand that Elon would allow such thing to happen.

The magic is gone….. at least designwise

??? It IS an overweight Model S. That’s pretty much the point of this exercise.

Teslamondo asks if the central screen is longer ? Seems longer to me.

Dashboard is different than before.

It is painfully obvious that it’s come to the point where people are now seeing defects on the rear doors which are not there. If this was any other car, people wouldn’t be looking at the rear doors so critically. Look at very nearly any car, and you’ll see very slight misalignments between body panels, or between body panels and doors, up to perhaps 1 or 2 millimeters. This is normal and expected, not a “flaw”. (I just gave myself a reality check; went outside and looked at a couple of newish cars, and sure enough, I found such “misaligments” on both.)

In fact, one of the reasons that auto makers have started using CGI cars (computer animation) in their TV and magazine ads, instead of real cars, is because that way they can show a car that is impossibly perfect, in a way that real world cars aren’t.

Um – while I do try to fully see your viewpoint, and these are pre-production mules, for goodness sakes – I have to disagree a whole lot. Manufacturers of even mid-priced cars spend countless hours and tons of money on body panel tolerances. Remember those ads where they run a ball bearing around a cars gaps to display just how tight and uniform all the body gaps where? In the ’70s I read an article about just how insanely anal Mercedes was about engineering manufacturing processes that insured there was no other word to define body gaps than “perfection”. These are luxury cars, even though we E-heads focus primarily on the EV aspect of them. When a consumer pays $100,000 on a car, they expect European-style panel fit. On the agreement-side…I will point out that a look at any minivan from any manufacturer will show the various tricks and lengths they’ve engineered to “hide” the slot that the sliding door mechanism rides in. Some try to place the slot next to the tinted window glass to make the slot less obvious. Others just forego the trickery for what works best ( Honda ) and place a big, huge slot on… Read more »

While I agree with the urgency for Tesla to get these doors right, I’m nervous about what “right” means.

If they look and work great on the showroom floor and the day a vehicle is delivered, but develop non-trivial issues in, say, 6 months of real-world use in very hot or very cold weather, then Tesla will be seen to have made a colossal blunder.

I’m guessing the day one quality will be perfect. I have no idea what will happen when Cool Feature meets Real World Weirdness. I sincerely hope there isn’t a problem; we desperately need Tesla to be wildly successful and push the general public and competing car companies towards EVs.

But man oh man, there’s no way I would have taken this particular design and production risk.

James said: “Remember those ads where they run a ball bearing around a cars gaps to display just how tight and uniform all the body gaps where?” Yes, I remember them very well because I found them ludicrous to the point of being unintentionally funny. Nobody buys a car based on the ability to roll a steel ball down a joint between the hood and the fender panels! (And if the fit was the hairline crack you apparently want, then the steel ball would immediately just roll down onto the floor.) “Previous sightings showed all hell breaking loose, basically, in the panel fit/door fit/window fit dept.” Previous articles here about Model X prototypes had comments from people making absurd claims, such as saying they enlarged the photo posted there, and saw things others were missing. I own a copy of Photoshop, and I can enlarge a photo. What happens when you enlarge a digital photo past its resolution is that you start seeing pixels instead of details. I actually did go to the trouble of examining a couple of those photos, and there certainly was no more detail present than was visible on the website, at least with my monitor… Read more »

You are obviously too young to remember the days when panel misalignment was an epidemic in Detroit. They learned a hard lesson from the Japanese, and now panel alignment is considered a hallmark of assembly quality. Tesla is not excused.

I’m with you that I am optimistic that Tesla will make sure the doors work. Like I said, they have to. You are cracking me up a whole lot with all your crabbing about me stating that a close inspection of those test mule shots shows all sorts of disaster with those doors. It’s ok if you’re visually challenged, many people are. Those early sightings of Model X mules revealed how much of a mess they were. The first shots revealed big spaces and uneven surfaces between door and roof. I’m sure you know how and where the Falcon Wings bend, and since you do – those are the places the uneven surfaces were. Tesla fans said I was mistaking gaps for “gaffer’s tape”. This made me laugh because I could see tape – just not at the seams I was pointing out. Also, the huge chasm that shows up at the wheel wells you just pass as part of the situation of the unique doors. I’m sorry, but those gaps are not uniform. Others like you were saying the wrap portions were to disguise the car. Nope. They were to mask people from shooting photos of the interior. The… Read more »

Today’s photos inspire more confidence. The great shots of the doors and seams shows progress of their fit. Much better, but still not passable gaps for a production vehicle.

James said: “To you – this is nitpicking.” No, it’s not even up to that level of importance. You’re complaining about flaws, some real and some imagined, in testing prototypes or mules. Amazing as it seems, I rather suspect testing prototype cars made by other companies also show flaws and defects which don’t appear in the finished model. “Many whispers have come out of Fremont that the FW doors have been problematic.” As I recall, a Tesla spokesman came right out and said, at least once, that they were having problems with the falcon wing doors. There’s no deep dark hidden whispered secret here, James… much as you’d like us to believe there is. But the issues with the falcon wing doors are sure to be issues of mechanical reliability, not with the ability of Tesla engineers to draw and fashion shapes which actually fit together. *Snort* But anyway, James, your obsession with these ephemeral pre-production problems is amusing. I found this bit in your post especially funny: “The white test mule had infamous gaps between front window and B pillar. Weeks later, you would think that would change, but the same test vehicle was seen and videotaped with the… Read more »

I wonder who cracks who up the most? Because you’re kvetching about my comments does humor me quite a bit.

Nowhere did I say the window-to-B-pillar crevasse with window rolled up was a cosmetic concern, Lensman. If you are a car guy – I would think you would believe this is a major deal also.

Lensman said: “Yes, I remember them very well because I found them ludicrous to the point of being unintentionally funny. Nobody buys a car based on the ability to roll a steel ball down a joint between the hood and the fender panels! (And if the fit was the hairline crack you apparently want, then the steel ball would immediately just roll down onto the floor.)” We’ll have to agree to disagree. I found the ads clever and effective. Nobody but a complete literalist would believe the ads were to prove a ball could roll on the car without them falling to the ground… Obviously it was about UNIFORMITY. A uniform gap allows a steel ball to roll evenly and smoothly. This was to show quality. Panel gaps are the crown of quality in any car or truck, as is the sound and fit of the doors. How many times have you experienced a neat car but for some reason the doors just didn’t close easily or sound “right” to you – with a satisfying, “thunk”? These are things that engineers spend thousands of hours refining. There are car companies that make high-zoot product that don’t fixate on such things… Read more »

That ad wasn’t any more real than the burgers you see on a burger ad. Or any more real than a model airbrushed in a photo. The ad agency won an award for special effects. See my post below.

James — You are actually unwittingly proving his point with the example of the 1992 Lexus ES300 Ball Bearing advertisement. The advertising agency that created that ad won a Clio Award for Best Special Effects for it. It wasn’t real. It was Special Effects for dramatization. The gaps on the E300 weren’t actually as good as the ad suggested. It is special effects magic, any you clearly bought into it like it was real. Duped by an advertiser. Good luck getting that McDonald’s burger at your local McDonald’s that looks like the one on TV too….. While everybody agrees that 1970’s gap issues had to be fixed because they were so bad, car makers fixed those issues decades ago. But that isn’t to say that gaps on cars are perfect. They aren’t. And that’s OK. Perfect gaps in production cars don’t exist. It is something that only exists in Special Effects. And while this definitely is a prototype, (and there is no reason to even be talking about a Fit and Finish on a vehicle that isn’t even built on the production line), people certainly should get real about gaps. They aren’t perfect in any car. This reminds me of… Read more »

That video is right at the intersection of Page Mill Road and Foothill Expressway in Palo Alto. They are going Northwest on Foothill and turning left to go SouthWest on Page Mill Road.

Very close to the Tesla HQ in Palo Alto. I bet I could snap some good shots if I dropped by there.

Another question I have for the Falcon Wing doors is – will they use conventional hydraulic cylinders to lift the doors? I hope not. Anyone reading this who has owned a hatchback or a car whose hood has those cylinders knows they wear out rather quickly and certainly operate differently in cold climate situations. There is nothing worse than banging one’s gourd on a hatch! OW! I have don’t it more times than I’d like to admit. Especially when you’re tired and the wife wants you to grab all her stuff out of the back on a freezing winter day and she is in a hurry ( and you’re short on nerves or sleep ). These doors have to be tested tens of thousands of times in all temperatures and humidities. What a chore! The huge risk here is bad press and bad rep. Once an owner struggles with the doors, a trail of tears begins for Tesla. Can’t you foresee the tons of ink on those stupid doors if they don’t work perfectly in all situations for a dozen years? It all comes back on Tesla and how they make crap. It has to be zero tolerance that these… Read more »

Yeah, as I like to say Tesla flew a little too close to the sun with their Falcon wings.

But at a certain point they were committed and there was no turning back. They need to do the best they can and get them out there.

That said, I suspect (at least hope) they are working on a version that just uses normal doors in the rear. That will eliminate potential problems, make it easier to use a roof-rack, and reduce costs. (It might make it harder to get into the third row of seats though. But perhaps they’ll sell versions with just 2 rows of seats.)

Being a kind of vehicle that likely will traverse uneven surfaces – dirt roads, etc. – I imagine chassis stiffness is going to be a factor as to whether the falcon doors remain silent and free of creaks and rattles. I wonder how well they will open and close if parked with one wheel on top of a curb and the three other wheels remaining on the pavement.

Well . . . in reality, most of those Model X vehicles will NEVER go off the road. Most will be used to transport rich children to elementary school. A few will have the harder task of handling a trip up to Tahoe with skis on a trailer-hitch mounted rack.

Oh, I can think of a few winegrowers here in the Napa Valley who take guests for a ride through the vineyards.

And I know of cabins at Tahoe that are reached on rocky, dirt roads…

You don’t ignore possibilities like these when forging ahead with something like these doors. Test, test test.

Why all the blind bitching? Don’t you remember that the Model S broke the machine that was trying to crush its roof?!?

Model X is not a Model S, especially in the roof.

One more reason to bring it special care.

Because the vehicle is very late and they admitted that the door was part of the problems.

How big part? i think it is more of a pretext for the delays.
The BIGGER part being the tremendous success of Model S, (but telling this openly would be very bad P.R.)so they take their sweet time to perfect it even more to be another hit, while Model S bring aboard all the necessary cashflow once supposed to be brought by the sales of both models.


Well, of course we’ll have to wait to see what happens, but I fear you’re right. Putting in a door that requires not one, but two, servo motors for each door to open and close properly, is just asking for trouble. For example, our Chrysler Town & Country minivan’s rear lift gate malfunctions in cold weather; it won’t stay open. The dealer has worked on it, to no avail. I personally think Tesla should have use sliding minivan-type doors for the Model X, to achieve the same goal: to make doors that will open in tight places and still leave plenty of room for Mom to put that child seat into the rear. I think Tesla is just inviting long-term mechanical troubles by using a type of door that nobody else ever has; one more mechanically complex. I’m not concerned about the cosmetic appearance of the fit of the falcon wing doors. I am concerned about the long-term mechanical reliability, and I’m also concerned about what I see as a more important issue: that Tesla may not be giving proper consideration to the needs of long-term reliability in their cars. I fear the falcon wing doors are a triumph of… Read more »

Elon could have done a one-piece sliding door that rolled part way into the roof, similar to the 1960’s Stingray and the rear doors on Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limos. It would have improved ingress/egress a bit over the standard sliding door.

But it wouldn’t have given the Model X the WOW! LOOK AT ME! factor which honestly has to be the biggest reason behind these doors. I have no doubt Elon realizes their public impact when the doors open up in the shopping mall parking lot. Apparently, the perceived value of this outweighed the problems they were to sure to face getting the doors to be bullet-proof.

Or a sliding door like a minivan door. Of course, that would bring up the image of a minivan though and that wouldn’t be as cool.

Like a sliding minivan door is what I meant, but with the top of the door curving into the roof a bit, like a 1962 Cadillac limousine. No minivan does it, so if Elon did it he’d be leading the way with something better in a simple way.

Stuart22 said: “Elon could have done a one-piece sliding door that rolled part way into the roof, similar to the 1960’s Stingray and the rear doors on Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limos. It would have improved ingress/egress a bit over the standard sliding door.” Yes, one of the stated purposes of the falcon-wing doors is to allow easier access to the third row seats, which I guess means you can step in without having to crouch down; so the doors cut deeply into the sides of the roof, allowing passengers to step in while standing up. Regular minivan doors don’t cut into the roof like that, but they do pop out before sliding back. Seems to me it wouldn’t be that hard to get them to pop up and out at the same time, on a 45 degree angle, before sliding back. That would also eliminate the potential problem with restrictions on the falcon wing doors opening due to overhead obstructions. Yes, I know that is supposed to be dealt with using proximity sensors and allowing the doors to open only part-way, but again it’s something that’s never been done on a passenger vehicle. One thing we can be sure of… Read more »

And this will be a non-issue pretty soon since all new cars will have self-driving capabilities and there will be zero need to open or close doors in cramped places. An ordinary side-hanged door is just perfect when you never have to follow the car to the garage and other such spaces.

Funny you mention minivan doors. I had a 2004 Toyota Sienna and the sliding doors that worked perfectly for over seven years. The front doors were the problem with the hinges breaking due to a manufacturing defect!

I’m sad about the doors. They seem like a silly thing that is likely to go wrong. I’d like to look forward to this car, but there’s no way I’d buy it for the first model year or two, just because the doors are so complex.

I’m sad about the engine. It seem like a silly thing that is likely to go wrong. I’d like to look forward to this car, but there’s no way I’d buy it for the first model year or two, just because the engine is so complex.

It’s amazing how a door suddenly becomes a complex point of failure because it has two extra hinges, while people shrug off the fact that they’ve long been driving cars with hundreds of heavily-used parts operating at high speed, force and temperature.

Getting the falcon doors right certainly won’t have been easy, but good engineering is never easy.

ItsNotAboutTheMoney said:

“It’s amazing how a door suddenly becomes a complex point of failure because it has two extra hinges…”

…and two servo motors, and a sensor to detect obstructions to opening the door, and apparently electronics to control the angles at which the door sections open. All that is adding decidedly non-trivial complexity. Any unnecessary mechanical or electronic complexity is a bad idea, because every moving part and every electronic widget is a potential failure point.

To add to that, explosive door hinges to allow the door to open in the event of a roll over. Or if not that route, if the window are big enough, an escape mechanism to remove the glass to egress.

Elon, why aren’t you paying attention to the forums about how to design a groundbreaking car in a burgeoning EV space? You can’t succeed! Just copy Chrysler and Toyota’s minivan so your environmental nirvana can succeed.

Oh, was that out loud?

It cracks me up that Tesla has gone so far that folks have to complain about the doors on a vehicle with the most revolutionary drive-trains in decades. Tesla builds extremely advanced electric drivetrains so well, that their ability to build that part of the Model X just isn’t an issue anymore.

A decade ago, the trolling and hand-wringing used to be over the drivetrain for the Roadster. They said that the drivetrain would never work, and the Roadster (and Tesla) would be a failure and go the way of Tucker.

Folks betting against Tesla have done rather poorly in the long run.

If you pay attention – and you’re not a newbie, you know the trolls vs. EV-heads who want Model X to succeed – and who are concerned a product decision made by an eccentric CEO may derail the entire company.

Tesla is new. They also are financially right on the edge. We Tesla fans want them to succeed like nothing else. I think that is why some angst is spreading at the multiple delays on a CUV that basically has all the underpinnings of a P85-D. I’ve talked about the whispers – Lensman reminds us of the actual announcements out of Tesla that those doors are a problem.

It is sad that we are talking about freaking rear doors and not the vast performance parameters of such an amazing vehicle platform. We just realize how vital it is that each rare new product that rolls out of Fremont be above reproach. Literally, Tesla is the flag-bearer of the future of the EV.

If you live in a city, most parking spots are tight. There are many times the sliding doors are in the way to move to the rear of the van without squeezing through. For those of us in that situation, these doors will be amazing. Entry directly into the third row. That will be spectacular.

I will wait until I see the final product to judge. For all we know, these are early testers which are used to put high miles to test the motors and batteries, and the fixed door version has yet to be spotted and captured on camera.

It looks better in the video than in the spy photographs.

I don’t see how the 3rd row is going to be useable for adults with that Roofline.

I understand why they are holding off on the reveal, but the anticipation is starting to kill me.

Well, that may be the very reason for the Falcon wing doors. It eliminates the roof where you step in.

Yeah, I want to see the reveal and see how it really works.

The Tesla web site claims there is room for seven adults. I am waiting to see how will that works but if the falcon wing doors work as promised, it could be very usable. Minivans and SUVs with the third row are not adult friendly. Add two car seats to the second row, and the third row is unusable. This could be a big advantage to parents with small kids.

Does anyone know what the seating configurations will be? Removable? Or how they are adjusted for cargo when needed?

The last information I read showed the third row as on option. So that is good for people that need the room in the back instead of people hauling. What we don’t know is if you buy the third row, it is removable when you need space. That would be the optional situation. Fold flat seems unlikely due to the battery pack, but who knows, maybe the higher body has some space down there.

Thank you. You would think more people who currently drive mini vans or have a few kids would be asking and seating configuration might even be the deciding factor for some. I might have to keep my old minivan as a third car if the Tesla doesn’t accommodate some cargo.

It has the potential to be much better than a minivan. Elon has five kids so hopefully he is designing something that can fit that many people and carry cargo. If it works for him, it would work for the average 2.5 kid household.

There is also the surprise of something extra that we did not see on the concept car.

Many of you have a point about playing it safe and go with standard rear doors. It has less risk. But when has Elon ever gone the safe route? He takes the gamble and it usually pays off.

This could be a disaster for Tesla as a whole or this could be the most amazing thing we didn’t know we needed. Other car companies start to emulate it. There are many things in history that fall into this category. Now see if anyone wants to give it up. Probably not.