Elon Musk, Tesla's charismatic CEO, unveiled Tuesday the company's hotly anticipated sport utility vehicle, the Model X, bringing an electric-powered vehicle to a segment known for its gas guzzlers.
"Any type of car can go electric. We showed you you can do it with a sedan and now we're going to do it with a SUV," the 44-year-old South African said at a launch party Tuesday evening at Tesla's Fremont, California factory.
The Model X, which is hitting the road two years later than initially planned, complements the company's only other vehicle, the Model S sedan. With a price tag of $130,000 (116,000 euros), the Model X is nearly double the $70,000 cost of the sedan.
The X has a surprisingly rounded and tapered profile for an SUV compared to the more massive frames and rectangular lines of its competitors.
This car is full of gadgets. The wing doors can be opened from a distance, with sensors adjusting the angle to avoid other cars parked close by, and there is a special "biodefense" air filtration button.
"We're trying to be a leader in the catastrophic defense scenarios," joked Musk, who also founded Space X, a space exploration company.
Musk, who has a large family, mentioned his twins as he highlighted the SUV's three rows of seats before an audience of several hundred people.
This 4x4 "goes so fast it's wrong," he said, boasting of its ability to accelerate from zero to 60 miles (100 kilometers) an hour in 3.2 seconds and its 250 mile (400 kilometer) range on a single charge.
That acceleration beats a top-of-the-line Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, which takes 3.8 seconds to reach that speed, and costs $157,000 in the United States.
Tesla expects to sell a total of 50,000 to 55,000 vehicles this year, and has ambitions of expanding sales to more than 500,000 units by 2020.
To do that, it wants to roll out a smaller, more affordable car, the Model 3, in two years. It is supposed to be priced at $35,000.