Tesla Model S Alpha buildEnlarge Photo
Tesla’s current focus is on the Model S electric sedan due for sale this July, which has been confirmed to include four different trim levels including a high-performance, BMW M5-rivaling sports variant.
However, work is well underway on a crossover to share the Model S’ aluminum chassis and running gear and we should see the first fruits of that labor as early as this year.
GigaOM recently met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and learned that the Model X, most likely in early ‘Beta’ prototype form, will be unveiled on February 9, a date that just so happens to be the opening day of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.
The new crossover will feature even more innovative packaging solutions than the seven-seat Model S, including third-row seating capable of comfortably accommodating seven full-size adults--and it will be a fully-specced luxury vehicle.
Musk also sees battery technology improving constantly, so there is room for even greater capacities in Tesla’s upcoming models like the Model X. He explained that the cost in battery energy could be as much as 7 to 9 percent per year, which on its own may not seem like much but over a period of just a few years becomes very significant.
For now, Tesla plans to build the Model X alongside the Model S at its newly established plant in Fremont, CA, the site of the former Toyota and GM NUMMI plant. Production numbers of the electric crossover may reach as high as 15,000 units annually.
Pricing will be set as high, or higher, than the Model S, which has a starting price of $57,400 ($49,900 after tax credits), and it will feature all-wheel drive, though we can't say whether it will be standard or optional.
In previous comments Musk revealed that the Model X would arrive less than two years after the Model S, which puts it right on time with our prediction of a 2013 or 2014 model year launch.