MODEL X from Tesla

With typical Tesla showmanship, the newest model was finally unveiled at its factory in Fremont. It’s called the Model X.

“The Model X has been much anticipated and a lot is riding on this. A lot is riding on every launch when you’re a small manufacturer,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director at Irvine-based Kelley Blue Book.

It’s an SUV with the same basic underpinnings as the increasingly popular Model S sedan, but with a lot more practicality. It can carry seven people, even tow a 5,000-pound trailer, but still runs on electricity alone. Good acceleration and a promised range of some 250 miles round out the package.

When first announced a few years ago, the new Tesla SUV was supposed to cost around $60,000. But it’s not quite that low.

“The ones that were just introduced and delivered were more like $130,000. I mean that’s pretty rarefied air even in the luxury market,” Nerad said.

The base price is $75,000 before options, and like the Model S, they’re all built to order. Place an order today, and it’ll be sometime in late 2016 before you’ll get it.

So far, Tesla is succeeding as a car company, but it’s succeeding as a high-end car company. What about something more affordable? That’s actually Tesla’s next move, a vehicle under development right now is supposedly in the $30,000 range.

“The vision has always been, as I understood it, to be a much broader-based car company, and that’s going to take vehicles that are much lower priced,” Nerad said.

But Chevy might be beating Tesla to the punch by debuting the all-electric Bolt, which is due out next year. They’re promising a range of 200 miles and a price around $30,000.

It won’t be the only one. Audi introduced an electric SUV concept at the recent Frankfurt auto show. It appears to be aimed squarely at the Model X. Porsche created an electric concept, also introduced in Frankfurt. Those efforts just go to show that Tesla has sent a ripple through the auto industry in its short existence.

And if you want the new Model X, the line – a long line at this point – is forming right now.

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