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TheStreet Open House

Explaining Tesla's Model X Delay

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Tesla (TSLA) Model X was originally scheduled to enter production in December 2013. The purpose of this article is to discuss why it was delayed by one year, and whether it will be delayed even more.

First of all, what is the Tesla Model X? It is Tesla's minivan version of the current Model S, which entered production around the middle of 2012. It makes for a much more spacious interior, and it adds four wheel drive for optimal Winter performance.

It has been my opinion since inception that the Model X is a guaranteed success. Almost everyone I know want some sort of plug-in minivan, as opposed these smaller or otherwise low-slung cars that's been the norm for plug-in electrics to date.

So why has it been delayed?

Let's first establish the history: The Model X prototype was unveiled in February 2012, and you were able to place a deposit immediately. At the introduction, Tesla said deliveries would begin in December 2013 and significant volume production would happen in early 2014.

Thousands of people put down refundable deposits of $40,000 (the first 1,000 units) or $5,000 (subsequent units), expecting to get the Model X in late 2013 or early 2014. Some estimates now have that list approaching 10,000 deposits. That would imply $85 million in total deposits for the Model X (1,000 multiplied by $40,000, plus 9,000 multiplied by $5,000).

At some point around the first half of 2013, Tesla said that the Model X had been delayed by one year: initial deliveries in late 2014; volumes in early 2015.

That's roughly where the official Tesla line continues to be today. Tesla maintains it will ship the Model X in late 2014, with the car ramping production in the second quarter of 2015 (sounds like a one-quarter slippage from early 2015).

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