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Auto Show : 2012 Chicago Auto Show

Tesla Model X Preview: Chicago Auto Show

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer
  • Tesla showed a silhouette of the Model X.
  • The official unveiling is February 9.
  • The Model X will be a fully-electric crossover.

Tesla recently previewed its upcoming Model X ahead of the fully electric crossover's debut later this month. The automaker showed a teaser image of the new model in an invitation to its premiere, which takes place Thursday, February 9 at the automaker's Southern California design studio.

Although the image doesn't reveal many of the upcoming crossover's exterior details, it clearly illustrates the Model X's rounded front fenders, pronounced grille and steeply raked windshield. It also displays a connection between the Model X and Tesla's upcoming Model S sedan, which also features rounded styling and a dramatically angled windshield.

Fortunately, we won't have to wait long to see the Model X in final form. The crossover is set for a debut next week at the automaker's Los Angeles Design Studio, which is located near the Los Angeles International Airport in suburban Hawthorne, California. The automaker is referring to the event as "the most exciting vehicle premiere of 2012" and promises that Tesla Roadsters will receive preferred parking. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk further added to the hype surrounding the Model X's debut, Tweeting that "most cars are pretty blah. This is not."

But despite the buzz, the Model X is likely still several years away. In a 2010 interview, Musk promised the crossover would debut in 2014, or about two years after the mid-2012 launch of the Model S sedan. When it does arrive, the Model X will likely feature an innovative new interior configuration - not unlike the Model S, which manages to pack seven seats into a typical sedan body style.

Founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and multi-millionaire and PayPal creator Elon Musk, Tesla released its first electric vehicle, the Roadster, in early 2008 with a base price of around $110,000. Through the end of last year, the automaker sold nearly 2,000 units of the small sports car, which is based on the high-performance Lotus Elise and can reach 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in around four seconds. The Model S sedan, which be offered with a starting price of $57,400, will be the automaker's second vehicle when it goes on sale later this year.

What it means to you: An electric SUV isn't as far away as you might think.

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Tesla Model X Preview: Chicago Auto Show