Shock-horror: the Tesla Model X configurator is online, and Elon Musk’s first electric SUV isn’t going to be a cheap car. Cue gasps from the soccer moms, Valley trundlers, and EV enthusiasts expected to make up the Model X’s initial audience, wowed by the $133,200 and upward price of the initial “Signature Edition”.
It’s a big sticker, but the kit list is big too. Model X Signature Edition cars get Autopilot features as standard – including automatic lane steering and self-parking – plus smart air suspension that uses GPS to remember when to adjust.
The upgraded audio system is included, along with the premium interior and lighting; that means ventilated heated/cooled leather seats and a power tailgate.
However, it doesn’t take into account the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade which Tesla confirmed a few months back would be coming to the SUV. That’ll set you back another $10k.
It’s become mildly popular in recent months to criticize the tech press for being somewhat fawning about its coverage of Tesla. You can certainly see where the appeal might stem from: unlike traditional automakers, Tesla talks the same language that phone manufacturers do, and Elon Musk isn’t afraid to give media-friendly soundbites unlike more restrained rivals.
Still, I’m inclined to give Tesla a pass on its premium sticker.
Trying to squeeze as much money as possible out of early-adopters isn’t unique to Tesla. The Volvo XC90 for instance? The Swedes couldn’t resist a special launch edition themselves, offering the first 1,927 cars with bumped-up specs and a price to match the early spot in line.
Customers seemed to like it, too: it took less than 48 hours for every one of the XC90 First Edition cars to be ordered. That’s despite a $65,900 price tag for the non-hybrid model, albeit for a well-equipped version.
Tesla hasn’t said how many Signature Model versions it’ll be offering, but it was always clear they were going to be at the premium end of the scale: sign-ups, which are no longer being accepted, demanded a $40k deposit after all, whereas a regular Model X deposit is just $5k.
Meanwhile the regular SUV will be priced more akin to the Model S, Tesla has said.
So, I can’t really begrudge Tesla milking the Model X’s arrival for all it can. After all, with a couple of delays under its belt already, and the next new car – the Model 3 – not expected for a couple of years, a bank account bump from well-heeled early adopters can’t hurt.