There is no denying that the Tesla Model X is in trouble. Amid the United States’ current SUV boom, Tesla’s midsize SUV has ranked consistently low compared to its competitors. With some problematic technology, a price that is deemed too high and a design that is far too complicated, even Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that the EV maker miscalculated when they came up with the Model X.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Model X’s over-complicated design could be one of the reasons why the luxury SUV has not really made an impact since being launched to the market. According to Michelle Krebs, an analyst for Autotrader.com, the Model X has eventually evolved into a vehicle with a pretty bad reputation.
“Luxury SUVs are really hot right now, and the Model X should have been a big hit and broadened Tesla’s audience. You don’t hear a lot of buzz about the Model X, and when you do, it’s the negative stuff.”
The technology issue with the Model X has been admitted by Musk himself, who stated in a previous earnings call that the decision to stuff all the latest technology and features in the luxury SUV was a “terrible strategy.” Consumer Reports director of automotive testing Jake Fisher has stated that in the case of the Model X, Tesla has simply overreached, so far that the carmaker ended up making an SUV that does not do things that vehicles of its class are expected to do.
“SUVs are popular because of utility, and this is an SUV that doesn’t have a lot of utility. The X was a big science experiment to say, ‘How far can we go?’ And they went too far.”
Overall, the Model X ultimately became a hard lesson for Tesla to learn. In a particularly candid tweet, Elon Musk stated that in the case of the Model 3, Tesla would be producing the simplest variants of the vehicle first, before offering AWD options and other features that would make the mass market EV more complicated.
“To start with, we’re making the simplest Model 3 first, like we did with S. Didn’t do it with X, because I was an idiot.”
While much of the fault lies in Tesla itself, Autoweek stated that the SUV market is partly to blame for the Model X’s poor sales performance as well. After all, SUVs are, at least in theory, vehicles that are supposed to be able to take their passengers on and off the road. Thus, the idea of a fully electric SUV might still be far too drastic for many potential buyers.
Apart from this, the Model X is currently the only mass-produced all-electric SUV, making it pretty much a niche product at best. Since being released to the market, the Model X has garnered mostly negative reviews from consumers, with many stating that some of the vehicle’s most novel features, such as its Falcon Wing doors, were unnecessary and counterproductive. While the doors are no doubt eye-catching, they do make it practically impossible to load things on the roof of the vehicle. Such a feature, of course, is widely considered basic among SUVs.
Despite its weak sales and its damaged image, however, the Model X continues to improve thanks to Tesla’s over-the-air upgrades. Thanks to these constant updates, a Consumer Reports survey held last December has found that 88 percent of Model X owners would likely purchase the vehicle again, a number which is impressive considering the luxury SUV’s notorious reputation. Overall, the Model X would most likely serve as a lesson for Tesla, and its lack of success in the SUV market would definitely make the EV maker far wiser in the future.
[Featured Image by Tesla]