Regular doors only on the Model X?

Regular doors only on the Model X?

With all the delays with this car, one has to wonder if the Falcon Wing doors will be dropped altogether.
I know there were issues with testing the doors on steep hills and they might just say enough is enough, we have to get this car out there (with regular doors only).
Winter snow and ice would also pose problems when closing the Falcon Wing doors.

timf2001 | 03. März 2015

I've lost count of how many times I've seen this exact same post. The falcon wing doors aren't going anywhere. Elon would likely rather cancel the Model X entirely than deliver it without the signature doors. He's even gone on record saying the doors are not the reason for the delay, and their design has been complete for quite some time.

proven | 04. März 2015

I agree with timf2001. There is no way the doors are going away. It is one of the main features of the car, and removing them is a lot harder than just swapping out doors. It changes both the structural engineering as well as the seating issues. Three rows in that car doesn't even seem possible without the big opening of the falcon wing doors.

jordanrichard | 05. März 2015

At least publicly Elon said the issue is the rear seats, actually it's the second row that they are focusing on.

I am very interested to see how they will deal with prevent ice/snow from falling into the interior as the doors open.

ian | 05. März 2015

How about cleaning it all off the roof first? Or at least away from the door openings? | 06. März 2015

I fear that the MX, despite Tesla's best efforts will not be idiot-proof, just like this forum...

mike | 06. März 2015

+ @ian - I regularaly get snow in my current car because I didn't take time to wipe it off the door and roof area.

Brian H | 07. März 2015

exactly. The MX will be about as vulnerable, probably.

spacevertex | 07. März 2015

The keyboard on the Blackberry had and has aficionados, Apple was long criticised for departing from tradition of doing away with keyboards, we all know how it ended.

It takes courage to venture into something new and away from the beaten path and the conviction that the idea is on the right track to follow it through.

To not keep an open mind restricts ourselves of the potential joys of the unknown.

Red Sage ca us | 07. März 2015

Did I mention...?


guyb | 09. März 2015

To timf2001, and Tesla Management -- if you have lost count of how many times you have had to tell people who want normal doors that there won't be normal doors... well, maybe there's a message there. The bleeding edge may be happy with Falcons, but the more conservative majority won't be.

I have always felt that the design decision to make the S look like a (very nice) normal car was brilliant... and here in Europe have received many compliments on behalf of my S for its classic styling. The X initially appears to follow the same philosophy... but open the rear doors and that impression evaporates. Too flashy... and that won't fly in many European countries.

One last observation: it's an odd step for Tesla to make from a brand management perspective. If, as Elon has stated, the mission of the company is to bring electric cars to the mass market, then a model that moves your image closer to the likes of De Lorean and Lamborghini isn't going to help.

proven | 09. März 2015

I think 20,000+ reservations says that people in general are pretty comfortable with the idea of the doors.

Sure it is different, but actually they seem almost necessary if a car this size is to have 3 rows of seating that are accessible. SUV's that have three rows are typically huge, or you have to do some acrobatics to get to the third row.

So, the opening needs to be large enough to get to the third row. If the door is a normal door, it would be too big to open in a normal parking lot. The minivan solves the problem with a sliding door. Tesla's solution is the falcon wing door.

My guess is that any apprehension that people have will go away once they see/experience it in person.

guyb | 09. März 2015

Where does the bleeding edge stop? Somewhere well north of 20,000 I suspect. To be clear -- I think the MX is a great car. If I lived in CA, I suspect that I'd be fine with the Falcons... but I don't, and I think my concern about them is widely shared, at least here in Europe.

It would be interesting to know the regional distribution of MX reservations... although since I was encouraged several months ago by a Tesla employee over here to sign up despite my concern ("Who knows what options there will be in the final version?"), it may be that only final sales will tell for sure.

And unfortunately I doubt that the concern will go away when the car is shipping... because it's not a concern about the doors per se, it's a concern about how one will be perceived by others. I'm not saying this is admirable, but it is real. Perhaps it will quickly become conventional wisdom that Falcon doors are pragmatic and not flashy... I certainly hope so... but until then European sales may well be slim.

sbeggs | 09. März 2015

Good point about geographical distribution.

From the reservation numbers reported, probably 16,000 in North America, 3,000 in Europe, and the balance in Australia and Asia.

Anyone have more definitive numbers?

vandacca | 09. März 2015

Please note, that everything about Tesla is about re-invention. They built their vehicles from the ground up to be an EV, which provided them with tons of benefits (more space, frunk, low centre of gravity, better aerodynamics, etc.). They have always questioned every aspect of the vehicle design and tried to do better.

The Falcon doors are just another example of that. At a price of $100,000 USD, I doubt that most Europeans would be making this purchase, and the ones that do, are okay with a funky/flashy design, and maybe even want it.

I know that this is a real concern, because my European wife feels the same way. She refuses to be seen near it with the rear doors open. That may change once she actually gets to drive one. But either way, I don't mind, it'll be my primary car. :)

Brian H | 10. März 2015


As Elon says, his successes where others balk come from starting from 1st principles. In the process, 3rd level principles like what others might say take a back seat. They are derivative, not basic. | 10. März 2015

Interesting thread

Apparently some people buy cars somewhat based on what other people think and some buy cars based on what they, the purchaser, think. Both criteria are allowed.

If you were running a fledgling car company and you were thinking about following your initial sedan entry with a second entry based on the same chassis to enlarge the addressed market while recycling much of the fundamental vehicle design hardware and software, you could build a minivan or you could build a crossover form of SUV. The minivan market in the US is something over 500,000 vehicles a year. The SUV/crossover market is almost 5 million a year. That's a tipoff to begin with. But you entered the sedan market with a "premium" car because you chose to build a BEV and you couldn't build one cheap enough yet to move down scale into mass market vehicles. There are no premium minivans. There are premium SUVs and crossovers.
That's another clue.

The MX makes sense in that context but what about the doors? When looking for a 7 passenger+ vehicle a couple of years ago, I looked at some crossovers and found the third row seating to be poorly conceived and hard to use. Some years ago I had a Lexus LX. It was a great snow car. It had a roof rack. The third row seats were almost useless. I never used the roof rack. It got almost 14 mpg. I thought about an Escalade but it was another gas guzzler. I settled on a minivan for the safety, the excellent passenger seating capacity and access until something better came along. The something better is the MX. Excellent seating arrangement for three rows, excellent access for three rows, and likely high safety ratings. The falcon wing doors are the design step to enable the easy third row access without having to build a monster car on a truck chassis. That is their function. Yes, they look goofy because they are novel but I think that they will grow to be appreciated and some will enjoy the attention that they draw when opened.

paradis | 10. März 2015

#1 GH | 11. März 2015

And by the way, the website has this to say about the doors: "brilliantly functional Falcon Wing Doors"
How about that? I'm drinking that Kool Aid for sure. :-))

Red Sage ca us | 12. März 2015

georgehawley: +42 UP!. I love it when people understand design logic.

vperl | 12. März 2015

Those folks that dislike the MX, worry, or otherwise think negatively about the MX are free to leave the forums, buy a KIA, Hundai, or some other vehicle.

While I ponder the MX as I drive thru America.......

Be jealous

pebucher | 13. März 2015

and when can we finally step into these great seat-and-door-design-lounge?

vandacca | 13. März 2015

@pebucher, the only official word is 3rd Quarter 2015. That means anytime between July-September 2015. Hopefully, there will be more information in the next 4 months prior to launch.

AlMc | 14. März 2015

The falcon doors will be on the production model. My hope is that an excellent way to break up the worries of some about roof racks and the falcon doors is to have the door engineered in such a way as the 'falcon opening' is supplemented with sensors that detect when there is a roof rack in place that the door 'slide opens' similar to a van.

While the falcon opening is novel, dual ways to open doors (OK usually tailgates) is not new, novel or difficult to engineer.

Fingers crossed.

Founder's series out by June 30th; design studio opens July 1 for everyone else with deliveries for Sig starting in early August.

vandacca | 14. März 2015

@AIMc, it doesn't look like Tesla has implemented any kind of secondary "slide" motion to the falcon doors. Every single video/photo of the Model-X (from the prototype to the betas) clear show that the only possible option for the rear doors is to open up. There is no place for the doors to slide backward and they can't go forward into the front doors.

But I think its guaranteed that they will have sensors to prevent them opening into a roof rack (or garage ceiling) and sensors to prevent them closing on someone's fingers.

AlMc | 14. März 2015

@vandacca: I do not think we have seen the actual production X. Spy shots are of the beta and I am hopeful (wishful thinking??) that the X production will be different, and allow for my 'bi opening' doors. :)

Time will tell.

grant10k | 14. März 2015

AIMc: "Time will tell."

Also, common sense.

Vans have a distinctive rail behind the rear door to allow the sliding mechanism somewhere to go. The spy shots of the X don't have that rail and it's not the sort of thing you can/should add at the last minute.

So, you'd have to add the rail, and some sort of mechanism that can disengage the door from the roof or the sliding rail yet still be strong enough to hold the door from either the trailing edge or the roof edge.

All for what? In case someone wants to double the car's drag coefficient? Towing something behind the car reduces air resistance, so it makes little sense to encourage roof racks with what I imagine to be a very costly feature.

If something has to be put on the roof the inelegant solution is to borrow someone else's car. Borrowing someone's pickup truck for your $80k-$100k Model X is not something many people are going to say no to.

vandacca | 14. März 2015

@AIMc, I totally agree with you that we haven't seen the actual production vehicles yet. The spy shots appear to be heavily camouflaged with front and rear body panels being replaced by fake one. Tesla has gone the extra mile to keep the production model secret. Most other car manufacturers simply apply a distracting paint pattern to their new models.

However, if you ignore the fake body panels, I do believe that the spy shots are 99% of the final production model. If there are any changes to be made during the next few months of testing, they will be fairly discreet. Tesla is at the final stages before full-blown production, so don't expect any major changes.

Having said all that, I can't see how they can possibly manage to implement a 'bi opening' door. Not that there is anything wrong with that. | 14. März 2015

Maybe the could design the FW hinges so that you can lift the door and disengage it from the car. No, that won't work. You'd have to open the door first.

Or you could double hinge the door with hinges at the bottom as well as the top. If the doors open up, the bottom hinges disengage. If the doors open down, top top hinges disengage and the door becomes a ramp for loading stuff into the second row of seats. Up for tight spots; down for wide open spaces where you want to take advantage of a roof rack.

AlMc | 14. März 2015

@grant10K: Yes, Time will tell. I could be totally wrong about the doors...just a solution to the 'love the doors/hate the doors sentiment' but I also don't think the spy shots are 99% of the final production vehicle.

grant10k | 14. März 2015 " top hinges disengage and the door becomes a ramp for loading stuff into the second row of seats."

"Yeah, just load it all up in the side there but uh...please don't step on the windows. And try not to track dirt on the side of the door you'll be walking on."

Brian H | 14. März 2015

Another million-dollar innovation destined for obscurity! You're a cornucopia of 'em. | 15. März 2015

Yes. Lots of ideas; not all good.:-))
I've already started working on the combination Falcon Wing/Vertical clamshell doors. This would be a truly amazing combination, once I figure out how to coordinate with the front doors....

Red Sage ca us | 15. März 2015

And yet, I seem to be the only one in the world that thinks half size clam shell rear door panels that only open after the front door are stupid...

Does someone here really think that Elon Musk is secretly Optimus Prime and that Tesla Motors will produce the world's first fully operational Transformers...?

proven | 15. März 2015

All the "ideas" about other ways the back doors will work seem fairly ridiculous to me.

All available evidence points towards the fact that the car is designed with these doors in mind, and that any change would require a massive redesign. Access to the third row alone eliminates any other door option on a car this size. | 15. März 2015

@priven: Yes, you have revealed the secret of the Model X. It will have Falcon Wing doors and there is no turning back. Love them or leave them.

jackhub | 10. April 2015

Get over it! Move on! | 10. April 2015

@proven that is. i is next to o on the qwerty keyboard and I am inaccurate at times. Sorry.

robert_wiederhoeft | 11. April 2015

The falcon Wing doors ruin the car´s usability. (at lest for hang glider pilots, padlers, windsurfers, skiers...)

The Model S is too low in my eyes, but it is fully operational including a roof rack solution.
What I dislike most in these low cars is the rear view mirror hanging just in front of my eyes.

Why should the X-model that seems to be the more comfortable ans better every day version of the TESLA come as a SUV that is ruined by stylish race car doors?

I´d rather have 5 Seats, 5 common doors and a solid roof rack.

Tesla, please build a car for those who love to live!

Svenssons | 11. April 2015

The Model X suit my needs better than Model S. You can not build every car to please hang glider pilots, paddlers, surfers and skiers. However, Tesla have been working on solutions to please some of those with the Model X.

If the doors does not please you, buy another car.

Red Sage ca us | 12. April 2015

You could stop by the Volkswagen Group website and demand fully electric, high performance, superior cargo capacity versions of Porsche Cayenne, AUDI Q7, and Volkswagen Touareg. Oh, wait... | 12. April 2015

A Tesla study found that hang glider pilots are slowly approaching extinction like an earlier version of the species known as pterodactyls, mainly due to collisions with drones. But they could be wrong and miss a major market excluded by pterodactyl er, falcon wing doors.:-)) | 12. April 2015

Not a drone but a chilling example:

Svenssons | 12. April 2015

I can not understand why those hang glider pilots, paddlers, surfers or skiers that whines about the falcon doors does not think about getting a trailer. A trailer would be much more practical and probably more energy efficient, safer and easier. If they really want to put stuff on the roof for what ever reason, get another car and stop whine about the falcon doors. | 13. April 2015

@Svenssons: You are probably correct about a trailer as an option for hauling large belongings but I wouldn't call complaints "whining". These are people accustomed to old-fashioned roof racks who really want a Model X but have no trailer experience. Trailers have their own challenges of course. The best solution is probably a pick-up truck. The best selling vehicle in the U.S. is the Ford 150 pickup truck. The second best seller is the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. That's because they have much more utility than "utility" vehicles. That is a future market target for the Tesla Model P. Can you see the videos of the 700 hp Model P racing a Corvette and winning? It will be just a matter of time but then Tesla sales will really "pick up".

vandacca | 13. April 2015

Thanks @georgehawley, just spent the last hour watching Hang Gliding videos on YouTube.

BTW, its much easier to carry a hang glider/paddle-board/kayak/canoe on the roof than behind on a trailer. Not only do you considerably extend the vehicle length, but parking and backing-up becomes so much more challenging.

I think the Model-X whining electric motor is a perfect match for these sporting types. :)

P.S. I can't believe that guy didn't bend a down tube in a crash like that. I have a silly little bounce and bend the crap out of my expensive, aerodynamically flared down tube.

rob | 13. April 2015

Yes, they look awesome. And I'd love to sit and play with the buttons for an hour or two. Open... close... open... close...
But then the novelty would wear off, methinks. And I'd be stuck with them for another eight years.
Yes, I understand that there are advantages to the design, primarily relating to the access to the third row of seats.
But there are, in fact, many DISadvantages to the Falcon Wing doors. Some of which go directly against many of the inherent benefits of the electric drivetrain.
1. Increased drag, therefore reduced range. In order to achieve the required structural strength in the narrow roof section that has to handle the (dynamic) load of the doors, you need to add a structural member of significant profile. This is either going to add to the frontal surface area (increasing drag), or decrease headroom.
2. Top heavy. One of the great advantages of the "skateboard" battery pack is the low center of gravity. Now we go and add a whole of extra mass in the roof. Probably still not going to get the vehicle to roll over going around a corner, but still... sort of the opposite of the original design ethos.
3. Just plain old heavy. After taking all those steps to reduce mass (aluminium body panels, etc) we now go and add a whole lot back again. Old-fashioned doors are relatively simple, leading to low total mass. And the mountings for the hinges are incorporated onto the main pillars, that need to be strong in any case. Now we add heavy doors, with additional springs, motors, etc, mounted onto a thin sliver of roof that has to resist the dynamic loads of a heavy door on either side. That's going to mean a lot of extra mass in the roof area. Every extra kilogram eats into range, meaning more batteries, meaning even more mass to move around, etc etc. You want to get the vehicle as light as possible.
4. Reduced torsional stiffness. Take a tube/pipe. Cut two big holes into the sides. Now twist that tube. The fact that the doors are hinged not only at the top, but also in the middle, means that they will not form a single structural unit. Old fashioned doors rely on a the basic inherent strength of the triangle. Two hinges, one latch. Nice and secure. These doors are going to make the car's tail move about like a twerking hooker. Unless the engineers add a lot of extra structural members (more cost, more mass, reduced range, etc) this thing is not going to have sportscar handling.
5. Reduced side impact protection. Unless there are multiple latches incroporated into the door on the sides as well as the bottom (adding to expense, complexity and mass) the doors are simply "hanging loose" within the frames. Bulking them up to ensure side impact protection is then going to require additional bulk in the door. Adding mass and reducing cabin space.
6. Reduced rollover protection. Doors hinged in the middle. Not a single structural unit. The basic "cage" has been compromised. Now roll that thing down a hill and see what happens...
7. Increased cost. Whichever way you dice it, these doors are going to add significantly to the production cost. Lots of additional parts, lots of additional production steps, lots of R&D to re-invent the wheel. The Model X is supposed to be more of a mainstream car, broadening the appeal to families etc. Yes, people will probably be prepared to pay a bit more for a Tesla SUV than a similarly specced Land Rover, Merc, BMW or Porsche. But there is a limit to how much people are prepared to pay. You want to make the maximum PROFIT from each vehicle, to enable the massive investment required for the Model 3. Therefore, you want to make the car as cheaply as possible, whilst providing all the features that might be required to attain a selling price of around $100-120k.
8. Warranty exposure. One of the great benefits of the electric drivetrain is that maintenance costs can be significantly (and predictably) slashed. "Only two moving parts" etc. So it is easy for Tesla to provide a long warranty. These doors go against that. Multiple potential failure mechanisms, due to inevitable wear and tear. Not the sort of thing you can fix with OTA software updates. If one of the servos or sensors or springs wears out, suddenly the kids can't get in or out of the car. What is the cost to the company of a single Ranger visit to replace one of these items?
9. Resale value. Traditionally, used car buyers are a lot more pragmatic and less impressed by gimmicks. Many of the "novelty" features of new cars are heavily discounted by the time the second or third (potential) owner is making his decision, and these "features" depreciate much quicker than the rest of the car. Brand loyalty is less important than a means of "getting from A to B'.
In fact, gimmicks can actually reduce the resale value BELOW that of the base model, if there are known maintenance issues. "Never buy an old BMW with a sunroof - they leak". That sort of adage. The guy on the used-car lot isn't a Tesla fanboy and he doesn't care which car you buy, he just wants to make sure you drive off the lot in one of his cars, and he wants to maximise his markup.
In a situation where Tesla is guaranteeing the resale value (based on the assumed low maintenance costs) this sets the company up for a very significant revenue hit.
10. There are a few more I can think of, but there is a delicious mutton stew waiting for me at home, so it's time to leave the office now.

Feel free to disagree with any of these points. Or to add more.
I think Tesla would be well advised to make the Falcon Wing doors an optional extra, and charge a premium for them, commensurate with the real costs of manufacturing and maintenance.
After all, the ability to CUSTOMISE your car on order is one of the great benefits of the current direct sales model.
Just make the doors an OPTION, and everybody wins! (Except perhaps the people who order the fancy doors, but only time will tell...)

vandacca | 13. April 2015

Good post @rob. However, I think your first 6 points (increased drag, top heavy, generally heavy, torsional stiffness, side-impact & roll-over protection) are all minor issues that are easily solved (IMHO) by good design/engineering decisions. I'm not concerned with any of them.

Your last 3 points (increased cost, warranty exposure & resale value) are all valid concerns and they may or may not become a problem. I guess only time will tell, but these last 3 points are probably the biggest risks that a new Model-X owner is going to have to consider.

The increased cost though are probably mostly during design time and once they get rolling on these doors, I don't see them increasing the cost of the vehicle that much. Even if they are twice as expensive as regular doors, thats not that much when you consider the whole cost of the vehicle. My guess is a low single-digit percentage.

grant10k | 13. April 2015

@rob, Your point that Falcon Wing doors increase R&D, and your suggestion that they provide an optional swinging door and body structure are counter productive. They spent the R&D already. They aren't getting a refund.

As for structure, rigidity, etc. If car companies can get a convertible (which is like, just a floor, when you open both doors) to feel sporty, then they can certainly do it with a non-removable roof.

Structure is a sliding scale anyway. Even if the falcon wing doors reduce structure (I don't think they will), the goal is not to maximize structural integrity but rather to maximize it within reason. You could add a ton of stiffness while reducing weight by simply removing all the doors completely. The inconvenience of having to enter and exit the car from the window every time is not worth the performance and range increases, unless you're a race car driver.

You have to draw the line somewhere, and for me the convenience and novelty of the falcon wing doors are worth the extra cost and weight (though, I think the extra weight won't be much more than a couple of Pneumatic cylinders).

robert_wiederhoeft | 13. April 2015

@ Svenssons

You are probably right, I should consider to get myself a different car than this one.

But is that the right solution for Tesla and for people who would like to drive a functional car powered by renewables? | 13. April 2015

@rob: excellent post with many valid points. That having been said here are some thoughts:

1. Increased drag: doors have no effect on the coefficient of drag or the height of the vehicle. Non-issue
2. Top heavy. Jeez-Louise, there's a half ton battery pack in the bottom of the thing. What is a little Al and glass going to do to offset that? Non-issue
3. Plain old heavy: Elon says 200 pounds more than the MS (4%) and I'm going on a diet which will help. Non-issue.
4. And 5 Reduced torsional stiffness and Reduced side impact protection: reduced from what? If it tests well, it will be as safe as the MS. If not, they will make it so. Non-issues
6. Reduced rollover protection: see above. Besides there are no hills in FL to roll down. Non-issue
7. Increased cost: the cost will be what it will be, dictating the asking price. If too much, product tanks with no buyers. Elon says single digit price iincrease over MS. Non issue
8. Warranty exposure: warranty expense is built into the price. If they underestimate, more fool them and good for me. If not, non-issue.
9, resale value: I'm old. My heirs can worry about that. Non-issue
10. Mutton? Now, if you were talking about a rack of lamb roasted to rare/medium rare perfection, you would have my attention. Mutton sounds like something out of a Dickens novel.

All kidding aside, I'm absolutely sure that there have been many debates among the members of the Tesla engineering team about all of your valid observations. But here's the thing. The X is a "crossover", a three row box on top of the MS frame. A couple of years ago I looked at such vehicles with interest because I wanted a safe vehicle that would accommodate the grandkids and their parents. My Lexus RX had only 5 seats. I looked at the Buick Escalade and the Infiniti JX35 (now the QX60) as examples. The third row was very hard to access and they were gas guzzlers. I settled on a Honda minivan. Did the job very well, safe and decent mileage but still wasteful.
Last summer I learned about Tesla. I liked the idea of the MX with the goofy doors that promise very easy access to the third row, inheriting, one hopes, the safety and performance of the MS. Sliding doors would have been fine but the Honda for example in order to ease third row access is over half a foot longer and a couple of inches wider than the MS, not a good match for the MS underpinnings. Elon for better or for worse chose the FW doors. That's OK with me. I'll make sure not to roll down any hills.